Technology is growing at an incredible rate and shaping the very nature of our industry. The popularity of Eatertainment, personalization, and experiential dining options are transitioning the concept of innovation from a nicety to a necessity. To keep up, your business must innovate in one way or another—lest you be left in the dust.
At the touch of a button on their phones, people can “eat-out” while staying in. Therefore, from the menu to the venue, keeping your brand modern and inventive is a powerful driving force in bringing people into your space.
With that in mind, we present you today with a list of 6 great tips that should be considered in your restaurant or bar in order to gain that competitive edge that’s so necessary in today’s food service businesses. You might not need to incorporate all of them at this point, and there are so many innovative technologies to browse that can help, but here's a great place to start!
We’ll start with a big one here and move into specifics as we go along. Modernizing the guest experience is absolutely key. There are, of course, many ways to do so and many different touchpoints you could focus on specifically.
Today, importance is laid heavily on fresh and unique ingredients. These “elevated dishes” are being incorporated into spaces like brewpubs and other fast-casual dining restaurants that historically served traditionally common meals like burgers, fish & chips, and the like.
While the food options are changing in many businesses, so too are the drinks. A wide variety of drink selections has become more or less expected in the modern era of dining. Craft beers, kombucha teas, and interesting non-alcoholic options have become a driving reason for young adults to have a night out rather than staying in to drink with friends.
As well as your menu, modernization must also apply to your venue. Being able to pay as conveniently as possible is a high priority for today’s guest, as is the entertainment within your venue. If you’re not looking to transform into a full-on Eatertainment venue, consider which aspects of entertainment you can enhance that already exist in your space, such as your music and what’s playing on your screens.
2. Leveraging social media
Speaking of modernization, the importance of social media marketing is not a new discussion, but the strategies applied to it are almost always changing.
For example, Instagram has become a lot more influential in the past few years than ever before. Where once stood Facebook as the penultimate social media site for targeted ads and User-Generated Content (UGC), Instagram now sees more engagement from younger people—and engagement that specifically centers around food and foodie culture. With well over 168 million posts that include the hashtag “#food,” Instagram is the place where young people share their unique dining experiences.
As well, a whopping 71% of consumers are likely to recommend a brand that responds quickly to their comments/feedback online. If you’re not utilizing social media to its fullest potential, revamping your online marketing strategies is a must!
Much like the product recommendations in the ads you see online, people expect personalized options offered to them in real life these days. Personalizing the guest experience is no easy task, but with today’s technology, it has become far easier to accomplish.
Many technologies now exist to help track customers’ orders, spending habits, and what days/times they’re likely to visit. Knowing their go-to drink or even just their name can make their visit all the more personable.
Using personalized playlists can ensure that the music and atmosphere of your venue suits the wants of your guests and enhances the vibe to exceed their expectations all the more. We’re all pretty accustomed to restaurant background music, but if an aspect like that is impactful enough to make someone stop and say, “wow, this place is my kind of venue,” then they are far more likely to become recurring visitors.
4. Brand Loyalty
Some places have found great success with loyalty programs—points cards, phone apps, etc.—and some accumulate brand loyalty beyond a program. If a points card system is too expensive or cumbersome, consider how the other aspects of your venue can drive loyalty to your bar or restaurant.
The aspects already covered on this list lend themselves to establishing a loyalist connection in your guests. Your social media strategy and the personalization elements of your venue can especially be factors that contribute to how attached to your brand a customer is.
Remember: repeat business isn’t the same as brand loyalty. A loyalist will whole-heartedly recommend your brand online and to friends, they’re more likely to try new options in your venue, and they’ll stick with your brand if a poor experience occurs. Making a connection from guest to brand means their business will be recurring and not just repeated.
5. Brand Consistency
The benefits of brand consistency in this industry are abundant, but it mainly comes down to building trust in your customers. Trust that they’ll have just as great an experience as they did the first time, every time. Also, trust that if they were to visit your brand’s business in a different location, it would also be as quality as it was in the original place they visited.
In a study done by Brandworkz and Software Advice, consumers ranked “consistency” as the most important aspect of brand loyalty to them. They want to know that if they do choose to be loyal to a particular brand, they can remain loyal to them with confidence.
Each aspect of the guest experience therefore must remain consistent throughout your brand. From the décor and furnishing to the music and menu, people are seeking out your business for a particular reason that you’ve got to deliver on.
6. Daypart Strategies
Organizing your business by daypart is also not a new concept, but definitely worth focusing on if it seems to be lacking lately. Consider who’s coming in at what times and where you can tweak the service and atmosphere to fit accordingly.
Different lunch and dinner specials are an obvious route, but also consider what music you’re playing for them, what deals you can offer at what times, and how long you want them to stay after their meal is finished.
Check out our guide to enhancing daypart strategies for more details on this subject here:
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