How changes in consumer behaviour impact the hospitality industry
Since the pandemic, there has been a vast shift in the way consumers behave from their spending habits to their overall attitudes towards...
Since the pandemic, there has been a vast shift in the way consumers behave from their spending habits to their overall attitudes towards dining out. Small habits from consumers that were born throughout the pandemic, have proven to become the new ‘normal’ within the hospitality industry.
How does this affect you as a hospo owner? By not keeping up with your consumers and their expectations, this may cause frustration and ultimately disappointment on arrival (After all, a smooth transaction is key!) Here are three changes in consumer behaviour that you should probably take into account:
Bookings and reservations are here to stay
Long lines outside of buzzing restaurants or cafes was once a thing of the past, however times have changed. Since the introduction of restrictions surrounding dining, there has been a rise of online booking systems that has forced consumers to be much more intentional when it comes to dining out. Restaurants that used to only take bookings for more than 6 people now feel obligated to take part in these changes, as ‘walk-ins have notably died off’. The clear mind shifts from ‘let’s just see if we can get a spot’ to ‘did you book in advance?’ demonstrates the consumer’s fear of missing out (FOMO) and if it’s one thing that the pandemic has taught us, it’s that we should not waste any more time.
For business owners, this was a win! Online booking systems have helped venues plan better in terms of stock, staff and service. Whether it’s a small or large booking, restaurants are able to receive confirmation from their customers that their bookings will be going ahead accordingly. This means less last minute cancellations that leave you out of business! If you’re quite new to this whole booking system, here are a few pointers on where to start:
Set up the booking system to be a part of your website
Customers that are searching around for a new dining experience will most likely have a peek at your menu. Having everything in one place, makes the process easier for them from start to finish.
Have automations set into place
Set up your workflow to include a confirmation booking email and another reminder/confirmation email sent 48 hours before booking date to minimise no-shows.
Optional - Require a deposit to make a booking
Depending on your audience, you may want to consider having an initial deposit fee when booking to avoid any late cancellations that will affect your business. Let them know that the fee wont be taken out of their account unless they don't show up.
Keeping these restrictions in mind when setting up your online booking system is important in creating a seamless transaction between both you and your business.
More consumers are embracing digital technology
Since lockdown, consumers that already were on social media and those that weren't, have consumed and been exposed to the digital space more than ever. Relying on social connections through social media was once the only way to connect with others (and we all know how addicting scrolling on your phone can be!). However, this embrace in technology has developed a new habit that is proven to stay. Consumers have discovered new platforms, creators and brands to follow where they have formed connections with. If you’re not already on Tik Tok at the moment, then you’ve definitely heard about it. During lockdown, Tik tok was the main source of entertainment for most and the numbers really show: The Tik tok platform was estimated to generate $4.6 billion revenue in 2021, which is a 142% increase from the previous year.
As a business hospo owner, this insight is a sign to innovate and invest in digital technology. The old school ways of doing things are just simply not going to cut it anymore, it’s time to move in the direction of consumer shifts and implement new changes for growth. Want to make use of these new habits and insights? Here a few tips to get you started:
Establish a strong social media presence
It’s even more important now than ever to create a strong social media presence. Since more of your customers are already on these platforms, this gives you an ever bigger opportunity to reach them. Having captivating content that is relevant and cohesive is key to getting higher engagement and exposure.
Implement app based services
Food delivery apps such as Ubereats, Deliveroo and Menulog have made it seemingly possible for hospo businesses to continue operating during these times. Consumers that have been relying on these applications during lockdown have forever changed the concept of food delivery. Having your business listed on one of these platforms could help increase exposure and sales as more and more people seem to enjoy restaurant quality food in the comfort of their own homes. Alternatively, if you already have a well established pool of regulars you should consider having a separate app that is specific to your business. Although it is a bigger investment, you will have the option to avoid additional fees from the other platforms and it could be later expanded to become another platform where you’re able to interact with your customers. Have a look at Yochi’s ‘chi club for an example.
All in all, these key changes in consumer behaviour that were born from the pandemic are worth taking into account when you’re planning your next strategy. Don’t stay stagnant and comfortable with the old ways of doing business, these new habits offer countless opportunities for you to grow in such a competitive market!