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8 tips for restaurants and pubs reopening their doors to the public

Posted on 12/04/2021

We recently ran a survey via our consumer social media profiles to ask the public their thoughts on the reopening of the hospitality sector to provide pubs and restaurants with key information to make your reopening as successful as possible.

Spanning cuisine types, planned frequency of visits, and health and safety concerns, our survey garnered over 4,000 responses from the Great British Public, who are chomping at the bit to enjoy some post Covid freedoms.

Download the full survey infographic here.

Restaurants and Pubs Reopening - Focus on Meals

02 Hospitality Survey Looking Forward To Doing

It appears as though the public have really missed dining out during lockdown. 59 percent of respondents said they were really looking forward to a meal out with the family, closely followed by 48 percent of people eagerly anticipating a meal out with their partner, and then 41 percent stating a meal out with friends is on their bucket list.

With a large percentage of people looking forward to a meal with their family it's important to make sure you are catering for all their needs. Make sure to have a good children's menu, enticing vegan and vegetarian options, and go all out to ensure your customer's first visit is truly special.

About vegan and veggie options, although they are the minority, a family or group of friends with one meat-free diner will be influenced by their choice.

We asked, what are you looking forward to doing when the hospitality sector reopens? The public answered:

Meal with family

58.7%

Meal with partner

48%

Meal with friends

41%

Drinks with mates

39.1%

Drinks with partner

25.4%

Bowling, cinema, leisure activity

14.4%

Big night out

14.4%

 

The public are missing what they couldn't get delivered

03 Hospitality Survey What Cuisine

We asked what cuisine type consumers will be ordering on their first visit to a pub or restaurant after the reopening of the hospitality sector and there was one resounding winner. Pub grub! Pub food had double the response to its nearest rival, with 60 percent of people craving traditional pub dishes.

Analysing the response and the psychology behind this choice, it seems as though rather than ordering the food that has kept consumers satisfied during lockdown, namely burgers and pizzas, they are looking for food and experiences that they have missed, think rich steak and ale pies and roasts.

The response from our survey, other than pub food, was varied, with Indian, Italian, and Chinese all in demand. The spread of the votes shows that the public have missed a wide range of different cuisines and we expect that once one craving is satisfied, consumers will seek out other foods.

We asked, what cuisine(s) will you be ordering first at your local restaurants and pubs? The public answered:

Pub food

59.6%

Indian

26%

Italian

25.1%

Chinese

21.7%

Fine dining

15.3%

American

9.5%

Thai

9.5%

Mexican

8.9%

Other

7.3%

Middle Eastern

5.2%

Japanese

4.3%

South American

2.4%

 

Consumers will eat out more often than pre-pandemic times

05 Hospitality Survey Frequency

We asked consumers in the first few months after the reopening of pubs and restaurants how often they intend to go out to hospitality venues. The results, when compared to 2019 figures from a survey run by Kitchen Stories, show that people will be venturing out more frequently.

96 percent of people stated they intended to go out at least once a month, which is a point down compared to the 2019 figures. However, breaking this 96 percent down further, 27 percent (+9%) of people said they intended to go out weekly, and 20 percent (+12%) said they would go out more than once a week. International data and insights company CGA have research to back this up, in their Consumer Countdown to Reopening Series, 39 percent of GB consumers said they plan to visit hospitality venues more than they did in 2019.

The hospitality sector certainly appears to be set for a major bounce back, assuming restriction easing goes as planned. How long this boom will last is unknown, but the fact foreign holidays are less likely in 2021 and many of the middle classes have excess savings due to the past 12 month's inactive spending, this boom could last several months. Make sure you're out there getting in front of potential customers to entice them to your venue.

The full results were:
In the next few months how often do you plan to go out to hospitality venues?

A couple of times a month

30.9%

Weekly

26.6%

More than once a week

20.2%

Monthly

16.5%

Not going out just yet

5.8%

 

People are ready for the reopening of pubs and restaurants

04 Hospitality Survey Safety

We couldn't run the hospitality sector reopening survey without a Covid-19 related question, so we wanted to gauge the public's feelings on their own personal safety. From the response it appears consumers are ready to get out and enjoy life once more by revelling in the service and fares that pubs, cafes and restaurants offer.

89 percent of people were either not worried at all, or were comfortable with masks and social distancing measures in place, for their dining out experiences. Only 6 percent said they wouldn't be going out until the virus numbers had come down, and a little over 6 percent said they would only be eating and drinking outside.

Over half of respondents to the reopening survey said they were comfortable with masks and social distancing measures, so it would be wise to detail on your website and occasionally on your social media channels the measures you are taking to give your customers peace of mind.

Here are the full responses to the question:

Not worried at all

33.6%

Comfortable with social distancing measures and mask wearing

54.1%

Only happy to drink and eat outside

6.4%

Won't go out until virus numbers have come down

5.8%

 

Quality food and service rank number one with customers

07 Hospitality Survey Importance

When asked to rank factors of importance when visiting a pub, café, or restaurant, consumers overwhelmingly chose quality of food as their number one priority. Second and third place were close, with quality of service narrowly trumping safety. The CGA Consumer Countdown to Reopening Series also backs this consumer mindset up with 44 percent of consumers surveyed stating that something that is of good quality is perceived as value for money. Bringing in the rear of the Aviko survey were available deals in fourth place and lastly being able to personalise your meal.

The importance ranking provides you with a basis for what to communicate and prioritise to customers. Mentioning locally sourced ingredients and highlighting the loving care you've taken to create your menu are very important. Likewise, make your service sparkle, if you're using a reservations system, ensure communications are friendly and welcoming, as well as prepping your team to make your customer's smile.

Finally, although the Government has issued guidelines for Covid secure reopening, make sure you detail what measures you're taking to customers who may still be a little apprehensive about visiting your establishment.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner, or all of them?

06 Hospitality Survey Mealtimes

As you might have expected, dinner is the mealtime that most of the survey respondents said they were looking to enjoy when the hospitality sector opens its doors. 74 percent of people said they are intending to go out to dinner, followed by 56 percent planning to enjoy lunch out.

Brunch and breakfast received 13.5 and 12.5 percent of votes respectively and snacking out received 8 percent.

What can we understand from these figures? There are opportunities when combined with the frequency of monthly trips out for consumers, so making sure you cater to all those needs is important. Focus on the areas relevant to your customer base, with dinners, can you add specials for different days to pick up early-week trade as well as the end-of-week custom. Although receiving a smaller survey response, breakfast and brunch offer good opportunities, with people working from home more frequently, are there business breakfast/brunch services you could offer for mid-week diners?

Which mealtimes will you be looking to enjoy at a pub/restaurant/cafe?

Dinner

74.3%

Lunch

56%

Breakfast

13.5%

Brunch

12.5%

Snacking

8.3%

 

Customers rekindling lost loves

08 Hospitality Survey How Will You Decide

We asked 'when planning your first visit out again, how will you decide where to go?', and the results were a case of consumers yearning for what they've missed; 94 percent of people stating they'll go someone they know and love.

12 percent of people will make a decision based on friend and family recommendations, 6 percent social media, 3 percent Google, and 1.5% TV and advertising.

It's no surprise that people will go somewhere familiar, we are sure that we're not the only ones to have had conversations with friends and family about where they will eat or drink first. However, look past that first visit, the craving for new and exciting will soon take over as illustrated by the next question.

What would make customers dine out more often?

Meal deals (53%) and discounts (51%) came out top here, but that is an obvious response and not sustainable for profits. The interesting responses, coming in third and fourth, were trying somewhere new (42%) and seeing new dishes (42%).  That's a large section of the public who will be looking for new food and drinks and new places to visit in the coming months.

The numbers illustrate the importance of making sure you let prospective customers know about your establishment and your food. Where do your customers get their inspiration from? Is it social media, Google, word-of-mouth, reviews? Experiment with your available channels, spend small amounts on social media advertising focused around your area and track the results to see what works for you.

We would recommend forgetting about meal deals and discounts in the first few months after lockdown ends. The numbers in this survey show that consumers want to be out there enjoying their freedom so giving away profit isn't needed at this time. Revisit meal deals and discounts at a later date and see if you can use them for quieter times.

Once you've got your customers in the door, consider a loyalty scheme as 32 percent of respondents said that would make them dine out more often. Keeping customers happy and loyal is easier and more profitable than winning new ones.

Meal Deals

53.2%

Discounts

50.8%

Trying somewhere new

42.2%

Seeing new dishes

41.9%

Loyalty scheme

32.4%

Themed nights

14.4%

 

Final word

We wanted to wish you good fortune and happiness for the reopening of your pub, restaurant, or café. We're really proud to work within such a fabulous industry that has shown amazing resilience and innovation over the past 12 months in conditions none of us could have predicted.  Fingers crossed we're getting to the end of the pandemic and we can start to build and plan for futures that we have destiny of.

All the best.

Aviko UK & Ireland

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