1. Higher expectations post COVID-19
With the majority of the COVID restrictions lifted, UK is beyond its “Freedom Day”. After multiple lockdowns and months of uncertainty, diners’ expectations have also evolved. While the main focus of the hospitality industry was on adapting to keep the customers safe, a recent Seven Rooms report found that UK consumers prioritize more their enjoyability. In fact, the study found that the number of people who agree the atmosphere of a restaurant affects their overall experience has increased by 10% since last September. Also, according to a survey by Payment sense, 71% of consumers view customer service as very important because nothing can make up poor food and bad service.
Therefore, to make guests’ visits even better than before COVID, restaurants should start thinking how they can provide meaningful, stand-out experiences to attract consumers and encourage them to re-book.
2. Shift in priorities
Years ago, a major part of the hospitality industry was made up of fast-food restaurants and bars serving alcoholic drinks full of sugar. However, there was a cultural shift post pandemic, as now staying healthy mentally and physically, is more important than ever for the population. Also, supported by the increasing trends on social media on healthy eating habits, more and more people are becoming aware of what goes in their bodies. In fact, consumers new number one demand is seeing healthier options on the menu.
To satisfy the consumer’s needs, restaurants needed to re-vamp their menus including more gluten-free, dairy-free, low fat, vegan, organic options, and low-sugary drinks. The survey by Payment sense reports that 71% of consumers say health should not be neglected, yet only 48% of restaurants consider these types of dishes. Also, ethical considerations are important to 66% of the individuals, including local produce, transparency in the food supply chain and organic foods all being of a high interest to consumers.
Given that 67% of population is influenced by a word of mouth, knowing customer’s habits is essential for restaurants to build a loyal customer foundation.
3. Personalized approach
Nowadays, consumers like to be treated as individuals. The use of guest management platforms enabling the capture of data, can be useful for making the guests experience more memorable. Restaurants should use this data to understand each customer’s likes and dislikes which will help to recognize opportunities for upselling or enhancing their experience. This could be as simple as serving them their favourite bottle of wine or sharing a personalized offer for a favourite dish on the next visit. Making the customer feel valued is key for boosting loyalty.
In addition, following up with a well-timed and relevant marketing email after their visit, keeps the restaurant on top of customer’s mind, increasing the chances of coming back or recommending the place to friend and family.
Restaurants have endless options to personalize the consumer’s experience whilst driving loyalty, repeating business, and revenue by using customer data and technology.