Combining entertainment with quality food service is becoming more and more popular as Americans seek out experiences from their nights out, rather than products alone. The popularity of “Eatertainment”, as it’s come to be known, was examined recently by restaurant reservation platform SevenRooms, who commissioned third-party research group YouGov to survey 1,248 Americans age 18+ on their nightlife preferences.
Results of this research demonstrate a shift away from high-traffic bars, loud music, and a drinks-only menu for what people look for in a night out. In fact, 64% of people said they were very likely to leave a bar/club if it’s too crowded, and half of them said the same if the music is too loud.
Instead, the trend is moving toward highly personalized guest experiences, and one-stop destinations where patrons can enjoy quality food and drink as well as activities, with 29% preferring those venue types and 21% saying they’re willing to spend more money in them. 62% of Americans are choosing an eatertainment venue for a night out with friends, and just over a quarter (27%) attending one for a first date, and so SevenRooms has deemed eatertainment “The New Nightlife.”
Sure, it’s good news for venues that either currently feature various activities or can easily add them, but what about casual-dining restaurants, sports bars, local pubs, and contemporary restaurants?
How will, for lack of a better term, non-eatertainment restaurants stand out from the competition? Can they still attract this one third of customers who value full experiences from the venues they choose to patronize?
To start, we can rest assured that the rise of one does not necessarily mean the fall of the other. That is to say, eatertainment’s popularity does not point to the death of casual dining and the like. However, without a focus on modernization—of the menu, décor, ambiance, etc.—it’s substantially harder to experience growth in revenue. Maintaining your usual sales is possible, but increasing them will be difficult without providing something more to the guest experience than food and drinks.
You don’t have to install bowling lanes or virtual reality arcades to bring the feel of eatertainment to a restaurant or bar. Borrowing smaller, more manageable aspects of eatertainment venues can upgrade your space without having to overhaul the entire business and concept.
For example, many eatertainment venues focus on craft beer and high-end food selections, which are actually driving their revenue much more than the games are. When deciding where to go for a night out, customers are largely considering the quality of food and selection of drinks. Consumption of new food and drink choices absolutely lends itself to experience-based dining.
Think of those “Instagram-able” moments and how often young adults incorporate social media into their restaurant experience. Providing unique, local, and/or generally interesting menu options gives your guests something to brag about.
Another area to examine is the entertainment provided within your space, like background music and what’s playing on your TV screens. Eatertainment venues like Dave & Busters and Smash not only have professionally curated music playlists, but also the songs’ accompanying music videos playing on their screens. Both of those companies use Control Play for this service, as the software is built specifically for the food and beverage industry. (Click here if you’re interested in seeing exactly how it works)
Modernizing your music and video setup is an easy way to bring a social atmosphere and entertainment quality to your bar or restaurant. If your space allows for it, however, you might also want to consider if live performances will work in your venue.
Musical acts, wine and paint nights, and stand-up comedy shows are becoming a very popular attraction in eatertainment. The SevenRooms study, in fact, showed that 30% of people find live performances the most appealing attraction.
Restaurants and bars without the qualities of eatertainment are seeing enough challenge as it is with the growing popularity of order-in apps like Uber Eats, Grubhub, and the like. The ability to stay in and have restaurant-quality food is making it harder for businesses to keep guests around for one extra drink or to upsell menu items. But delivering experience-based nights out that are highly personalized and lend themselves to the social interactions consumers are craving will draw more and more people out of the house and into your restaurant.