According to Eventbrite, 75% of diners would pay more money for a unique dining experience, and those customers are hoping to get more from their night out than just a delicious meal.
The study determines that ambience, innovative menus, and unique experiences are also consumer priorities. Not only that, about 90% of restaurateurs plan to implement customer engagement initiatives to keep customers coming back throughout 2022. Here are some thoughts to help build your customer base, increase sales, and stand out from the competition.
Era of Experiences
Igloos, yurts, greenhouses, and other creative enclosed areas were born out of necessity during the pandemic, and many have stayed around due to of popularity. The Instagrammable-experience of dining in a themed, cozy igloo, or breezy canopy with lounge chairs will have the younger demographic flocking to your restaurant.
A small firepit in the center of an outdoor communal table will keep guests lingering longer and increase ticket prices during the chillier nights. For the spring, consider a tent or canopy to shield from the shade, rain, or wind. Take advantage of your rooftop dining space, complete with bistro lights, comfy couches, and lounge areas to bring the comforts of home to your restaurant.
Strike A Pose
Social media engagement is more important to your bottom line than ever. A recent survey showed 30 percent of 18-to-35-year-olds would avoid a restaurant if they didn’t like their Instagram presence. But this goes beyond social media ads, sharing specials, and a photo here or there. Guests want to share their experiences with everyone, so whether it’s a special cocktail, selfie wall, mural, or compelling dish, having that social media-worthy factor can assist with boost sales and keeping customers coming back.
Kick It Old School
Nostalgia is a powerful tool to increase foot traffic and sales as well. Whether it’s classic comfort food like pot roast or grilled cheese and tomato soup on your menu, ‘80s or ‘90s music, or pop culture décor, it can be an easy and affordable way to have a leg up on the competition.
Diners love customization. Adding options that allow guests to craft their own experiences can be an efficient and cost-effective way to boost sales. Create a Build-Your-Own Bloody Mary or mimosa bar with all the fixings, consider placing a few grain or salad bowls on lunch menus where customers pick their ingredients, or a “pick your poison” cocktail menu where libation lovers can pick their booze, mixers, and garnishes.
A trend that’s been growing in popularity for the last several years, pop-up dining events can be a fun and relatively easy way to stand out from the competition. Not only is it a way to draw a crowd, but it’s also perfect for chefs who want to test drive their new menu or concept before taking it full scale at the restaurant. Make it your own by hosting a mystery chef or theme or even host it in a surprise location.
Take it tiki, inspire with international, or slip into a speakeasy for the night. Internationally inspired dishes continue to be a top trend, and a fruity, vibrant tiki cocktail with an umbrella garnish will always be popular. Drinks and special LTOs that offer something creative, different, and interesting can increase the likelihood of new customers and build customer loyalty. And marketing it as a limited-time-only menu creates a sense of urgency, and ideally, a surge in traffic.
We are seeing around the industry that consumers are more likely to support an establishment when they see local eateries engage with meaningful causes. In fact, 81% percent of consumers are engaged when businesses provide food or supplies to community organizations, events, or service providers. Build customer loyalty and increase foot traffic by partnering with a local school, picking a charity to donate to monthly, or hosting a food/toy drive to support your local community.