Consumers Crave Great Cuisine And Ambiance As Hospitality Venues Reopen

Good food, facemasks & a feelgood atmosphere must all be on the menu over the festive season

As pubs, bars and restaurants across some parts of the nation once again reopen following lockdown closures, a new study from SevenRooms reveals that factors such as food quality and restaurant ambiance remain at the heart of positive dining experiences for many UK consumers. Three in five (61%) report that the quality of the food continues to be a key factor in their overall enjoyment of dining out, while the general ambiance of a venue is important for a third (33%).

The COVID Confidence Report’ from SevenRooms, a data-driven guest experience platform for the hospitality industry, polled a representative sample of 2,214 UK adults through YouGov to discover the factors shaping guest comfort and satisfaction in a new era of dining. With venues hoping to drive reservations and deliver positive guest experiences, the report reveals a range of evolving and enduring expectations to be catered to:

  • A hunger for health and safety – Feeling safe is now a critical factor in the overall enjoyment of a dining experience. A majority of UK adults (55%) want to see staff in personal protective equipment (PPE) and half (49%) want hand sanitiser available throughout the venue
  • A taste for technology – Having a reservation system in place is vital for two in five diners (42%), while over a third (36%) say that contactless order and pay would make for a more enjoyable experience
  • A penchant for preparation – Helping guests plan ahead for their dining experience should be on every operator’s agenda. 38% of consumers want to be made aware of what to expect in advance of their visit and a third (34%) wishing to be informed specifically on a venue’s new COVID-19 related health and safety measures

With ongoing social distancing measures meaning fewer covers for restaurants when they do reopen, hospitality operators will be mindful of making sure every booking counts over the holidays. More than a quarter (29%) of UK adults say they prefer to book directly with a venue, and there are four key aspects that give guests confidence when making a reservation:

  • Safety – 42% are more likely to make a reservation if they were confident the restaurant could allow for proper social distancing and time between arrivals to minimise contact with others
  • Communication – More than a third (38%) want the restaurant to share their COVID-19 health and safety guidelines and procedures ahead of a visit
  • Reviews – Over a quarter (29%) are more likely to book if there were reviews from other diners that gave them confidence in a venue’s approach to COVID-19 health and safety. 27% are more likely to book if there were reviews from other diners that gave them confidence in the broader dining experience
  • Technology – 27% see the incorporation of technology to aid with COVID-19 contact tracing efforts as important, while a quarter (25%) state that using technology generally to ensure a safer experience would encourage them to confirm their booking

Among ever-changing COVID regulations and restrictions, the study also indicates that hospitality operators must continue to be dynamic by diversifying their dining offerings and forging strong relationships with loyal guests:

  • Leveraging loyalty – over a third (35%) of UK adults are more inclined to dine at a restaurant they’ve been to previously
  • Injection of confidence – one in five (20%) wouldn’t feel comfortable dining out until there is a vaccine
  • Al fresco appetites – 19% will be more likely to book a restaurant if outdoor dining is available
  • Delivery devotion – 15% said they will only order delivery or takeaway for the rest of 2020

Danilo Mangano, General Manager Europe at SevenRooms, comments: “Having endured a second lockdown and venue closures so close to Christmas, diners’ desire for engaging experiences is likely to be even higher, which operators need to be ready to maximise. Safety considerations may now be a bigger factor for many guests when dining out, but being able to enjoy good food and a great atmosphere still sits at the core of an exceptional experience. Venues have done well to adapt to ensure customers are safe, but it’s also important that they look at how to elevate the guest experience altogether and make it even better than it was in pre-COVID times.

“While the run-up to the festive season will look a little different, there are still opportunities for operators to provide memorable and personalised experiences for their guests – no matter where they are. Having the right technology in place to enable them to capture valuable insights and build direct relationships is fundamental to this. Armed with this insight and using it to tailor each and every offering will be critical to building deeper loyalty that powers their success into the new year.”