How the Little Things Make a Big Difference in Guest Experience

Did you know that a whopping 51% of Americans said that their dining experience would stand out if a server simply remembers their name? That’s a sizable statistic for such a small effort. Making a guest’s experience memorable ways like this naturally benefits the effort of driving recurring traffic to your venue and, as I’m sure you’re aware, return visits are key when it comes to growing revenue.

Little moments like these should be sought after as much as possible in bars and restaurants alike. Most places can nail down the basics of guest experience, but making an extra effort to personalize or otherwise add to the experience is what really makes certain businesses stand out from their competition.

In an article for CSM, customer service expert and consultant Roger Wolkoff urges managers and professionals to “[b]e curious about the opportunities you have to create exceptional experiences for your clients and guests. Think in terms of putting the pieces of the puzzle together, think in terms of positive outcomes.” When it comes to the food and beverage industry, there are a plethora of puzzle pieces to mull over and positive outcomes to set as goals.

To find the small details you can improve in your bar/restaurant takes creativity and a willingness to experiment. You’ve got to observe everything, study your guests’ wants and needs, and make decisions from a place of empathy; feeling what they would feel in their shoes.

Let’s start at the beginning of your customer’s journey: the entrance. What’s the first thing they experience when they walk through your doors? We all know how important first impressions are, so what is your venue doing to make a positive impact off the bat?

While it often lasts for only a few minutes at most, walking into a venue and being greeted and seated sets guests’ expectations. It’s in this beginning step that they’re either wowed or pacified. Being welcomed in a pleasant setting is pretty much what we all expect in this moment, so take the time to examine how you could enhance this moment. Think about what it’d be like walking into a venue that’s playing your favorite music, has a staff member approach you with genuine kindness—a greeting that wasn’t just what they’ve been told to say—and has the aroma of mouth-watering food wafting through the air; now that’s a solid first impression! Take people’s senses into account and how they could come into play at the moment of a guests’ arrival to strengthen that impression.

In a sense, it’s a matter of figuring out what your customers’ expectations are and doing what you can to exceed them. It also shows how you differentiate your business from your competitors. Consider the sights and sounds of your atmosphere, for example, something that’s very noticeable as soon as someone walks in. What are the first things they see and hear when walking in? For a lot of bars and restaurants, it’s the TVs and music. So, while everyone else is using their TV screens to play sports highlights or The Food Network, you could instead play music videos and/or have eye-catching digital displays with messaging that’s relevant to your guests.


Of course, this is just one short instance that can be examined and enhanced. It’s worth taking an intimate look into each moment of your guest experience and putting the pieces of the puzzle together. As Wolkoff puts it, “notice the little things, act on them, and turn them into memorable experiences—it takes wit, creativity and the ability to make connections.”

These little things add up and make a big difference. In a time when more and more venues are struggling to attract guests away from delivery and into the in-house experience, finding areas that are ripe for improvement makes all the difference. Your menu may see multiple changes throughout the year, but opportunities for enhancement are abundant throughout your business.

Looking to enhance your venue’s atmosphere? Talk to the experts here at Control Play to see how we can upgrade your venue and tailor the entertainment to your specific guest experience needs:

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Kevin Avram

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