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What Your Diners Really Want!

What Your Diners Really Want!

It’s critical to know what your diners are looking for as part of their dining experience.  You need people coming in, people returning and as importantly people talking about how great your restaurant, café or hotel is.  Whilst every business needs to focus on new business, so must we focus on returning business.  So here are some tips to help you:
The menu truly does matter!  
More than 86% of diners will check out your menu before they dine.  If you are in a tourist area, you still need the menu on the sidewalk for possible walk-ins, but seriously you absolutely need to have your menu up on your website.   It should be easy to find, sound delicious and have lots of amazing photographs to ‘wet’ our appetites.   If you don’t have a website (huge cringe) you really need to get one.   If they can’t find you online, I can assure you they will find your competition.   Also be sure to manage social media comments about your business; 25% of people will listen to what others have said; if it’s bad and they don’t see you suitably responding, they will go elsewhere.  

Online bookings.  
More than 85% of diners would love to know how long the wait is for a table, and almost as many would love to add their names to a waitlist.   Of course if you don’t have huge waitlists, people still want to use technology to book a table.  
Technology rules!   Does your business have an online booking facility?   Do you ask a few questions about their seating preferences?   Technology is here to stay, diners are even saying they would be happy to use a phone to pay the restaurant.  In a recent survey, 18% of diners said they would regularly engage online in a restaurant’s loyalty program, although interestingly only 6% of diners would actually download a specific restaurant’s app. 

Lunch is THE meal of the day!   
Statistics show that more people eat out for lunch than any other meal.   Establishments often focus on breakfast (the most important meal of the day as we often hear) and of course on dinner – but the lunch diners can be forgotten.   What is your marketing focus relating to lunch?   Have you given special thought to your lunch menu?  

Australians do care about nutrition.  
For most diners, when you say nutrition they are thinking fat content of a meal.  Whilst it’s not practical to have all the nutritional information on your menu, having a logo “healthy choice” against 5 or 6 of your menu items will alert people that those options are low in fat, low in sugar, low in additives and carefully prepared with quality and fresh produce.   Australians are wanting a focus more on light and fresh – which means more salads and vegetables.  

Know your target market.   
You need to know your target market, because Millennials’ dining habits are quite different from their parents, Gen X or the Boomers.   Millennials dine out more (good news for you) but they prefer quick and casual dining options.   Their idea of healthy is about not having preservatives or anything artificial in their food, and having food which is less processed.   They are more likely to frequent businesses with greater ethics. 
You’re in the business of hospitality.  
It’s the whole dining experience.   Yes the food plays an important part, but remember that dining out isn’t just eating a meal we didn’t cook.  If that was the case, then why not sit in the carpark eating chicken from a box?   We dine out to enjoy ourselves, spend time with friends, enjoy a nice meal and have a nice time.   That includes how we are treated in the establishment.   Did we have to wait absolutely ages to order?   Are staff always pleasant and smiling regardless of how run off their feet they are?   Are staff attentive?  We shouldn’t have to crane our necks seeking out someone to place a drink order with.  Think about background music (quiet enough we can hear each other talk), ambience, décor etc.   It all goes towards the dining experience.   Do you allow bill splitting?  I know it’s a pain, but if you don’t, at least offer a calculator and pen to make it easier.  The perfect bill would be split up by seat number with shared items as a separate.   Wouldn’t it be easy as the waiter takes the orders to get the first name of each guest?   Then where you serve, s/he could use that person’s name “How are your prawns Janet?”   Now that’s customer service!  

If you’d like to know how you can have more time to focus on your customers and your menu, just call me on 0415 168 729.