What are we going to see in our dining establishments once we are out of lockdown? Well I don't have a crystal ball but I think we might see smaller, very seasonal menus replacing large and lengthy menus. It will be necessary for restaurants to purchase supplies cautiously, in order to adapt not only to the financial restraints caused by the long lockdown but also price changes and availabilty caused by Brexit. Smaller menus will help. Perhaps there will also be a focus on food origins, moving away from Europe to a more global table. Customers who are itching to travel will be looking to spice up their dining experience. Middle Eastern, North African, Moroccan, Sri Lankan, Caribbean, African/American and other world cusines have all been popular in lockdown. Having a holistic approach to culture and food heritage would bode well with customers, many of whose habits and preferences will have changed and many will have become accustomed to cooking superb meals at home. The digital customer experience will also be critical to retaining current customers and enticing in new clientele. Instead of simply reverting to business as usual, seize the opportunity to innovate. The actions that you take now will go a long way in preserving the future of your business.
Rather than focusing on a post COVID world, businesses need to think of COVID as a chronic condition and learn to live and work with it.
Once the lockdowns are lifted we are likely to see an explosion of the experience economy as people are desperate to share experiences with their friends and family. Visitor Attractions are well placed to tap into this, especially whilst international travel is difficult. This could be the year of the staycation. Domestic tourism will rule with outdoor attractions and rural locations benefiting. But remember - sanitise your site and not the visitor experience.
Customers who feel that they have an emotional link to a brand or a business become loyal advocates, making repeat visits, repeat purchases and recommend to friends and family.
Thoughtfulness considers the intangible aspects of the customer experience and cannot be measure easily. It is the emotional factor that links customers to a brand. Build trusting, thoughtful relationships with your visitors and guests. Customers need to be acknowledged and understood and their feelings taken seriously. Customer centric mindsets must expand though to all employees who should always feel valued and inspired. Just a thought.
Diners are not turning up for their bookings and for whatever reason guests think it is ok to 'no show'. It's becoming such a problem that it is having an enormous financial impact on restaurant businesses. Of course it is a lack of courtesy on the customers part to not 'phone and cancel a booking or inform a restaurant that they can't make it. But can restaurateurs help themsleves improve this situation?
Working with accommodation providers who faced similar problems here are some of the suggestions that I know worked, especially with the online bookers who were the worst offenders.
* Set out your booking and cancellation policy - an official policy can't be disputed.
* Include - how far in advance a cancellation is required, how long a table will be held for in the event of a no-show, whether you'll charge customers for not turning up if they haven't cancelled their booking.
* Consider taking a small deposit at the time of booking - perhaps the amount you would consider charging for a no show. Diners tend to be more likely to show if they have money at stake.
* Engage with customers as soon as a booking is made - send menu's, a wine list, double check dietary requirements. Send a text or email to confirm the booking, reminding your customers who may have forgotten where they've booked. Include a phone number and address as well as the time of the reservation.
* The day before, engage again, make a phone call, text or email to remind customers of their booking, providing the customer with a good impression of your customer service.
* Make it easy to cancel the booking - this will at least give you more time to fill an empty table.
In Case You Missed It - social media is not just a way to communicate with your friends but necessary to target and market directly to those you want to reach. Top platforms are Facebook (the place to go to chat and be friendly, keep the tone light and informal), Twitter (interactive dialogue and communication, nurture, engage and build your following, retweet and answer questions when possible), Instagram (creative and collaborative with the chance to create stories and expand your reach using hashtags), Pinterest (female centric and image based, develop your own personality with eye catching, unique pinboards, great for recipe boards) and YouTube (create useful and instructive 'how to' videos as well as capturing attention), Google owns YouTube so is routinely ranked highly on Google search page. So what are you waiting for?
It's always good to get published in a cookbook! I have lots of local food knowledge and contacts in the food world if you need recommendations
I always try and keep up to date with what's going on in the food and drink world, especially what is happening in East Anglia. So today I'm off to Menta's Food and Drink Seminar at The Cookhouse. Suffolk Food Hall.
I was invited by Quality in Tourism to present a workshop on Taste and Food Trends for the VisitEngland annual conference in Broadway. Worcestershire.
We discussed the sensoriality (made that word up) of food and our five senses. I used different types of honey to carry out a taste test and to find out who was a taster and who was a non taster.
Talking about food trends created a lively discussion. Titled from the cramen burger to the cronut we looked at what was hot and what was not. Chicken Tikka Martini anyone?