2019 saw the announcement that Jamie’s Italian, a seemingly popular UK high-street restaurant chain created by the famously friendly Jamie Oliver, went bust. A situation that came completely out-of-the-blue, but in hindsight shouldn’t have been a surprise.
I would be the first to say I’m a fan of Jamie Oliver, his cheeky chappy personality coupled with my love of his food, meant that I regularly visited his restaurants over the years.
But it would be fair to say that during those years, my dining experience expectations changed, and Jamie’s Italian didn’t evolve to meet them.
Consumer expectations of F&B (food and beverage) outlets have seen a huge shift. From high-street casual dining and quick service restaurants in theme parks to street food markets across the country – as consumers, we want more than just the food on our plates to inspire us.
To generate the most exposure for your brand these days, every touchpoint within the experience needs to be memorable, considered, and shareable.
For participants who want to put F&B at the core of their experience, there is a great opportunity to generate greater revenue and take advantage of this current food explosion. Here’s a few ways to make it happen:
Switch to digital
Convenience is king, especially for casual dining outlets and quick-serve restaurants.
According to Omnico, 78% of visitors will walk away from a food and drink purchase due to queues, but if guests are able to order ahead it can boost average order value by 160%.
Utilise technology to simplify and streamline the experience for the guest.
Honeygrow has a digital ordering system, which enables guests to create their own customisable dishes. They can also order ahead to skip the queue and gain loyalty points and discounts for doing so.
At Inamo guests enjoy interactive projections on the table, enabling them to set the mood, discover the local neighbourhood, play retro games, see a live chef-cam feed, and even graffiti the table top.
What costs nothing and makes all the difference for your guests? An ‘on-brand’ attitude. Align your staff engagement with the experience you’re trying to create whether you’ve got an American fast food diner or a magical fairytale castle experience.
The Whispering Canyon Cafe at Disney World is not all as it seems, ‘whispering’ is a slight misnomer as the staff display rowdy antics to entertain the diners.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, Dans Le Noir in London, (a restaurant set in the pitch black), offers the complete opposite experience, in which great trust is put in the staff to deliver a great experience for the senses – well all except sight. The restaurant employs staff with visual impairments to wait on the guests as they believe that those with visual impairments are naturally more efficient in the dark. The level of trust required to be confident that your meal won’t end up landing on your lap makes it a really positive and rewarding experience for all.
If your food is served to your table in a dog bowl, the chances are you’ll take a photo and share it. Consider this same mentality. Quirky signage, activity-based tray toppers, staff uniforms… Anything that represents your experience. Give your guests the content to do your marketing for you.
Bunga Bunga is a series of playfully themed Italian restaurants in London, that encompass all the kitsch elements of Italy and throws them into the mix, along with sharing feasts, karaoke and live entertainment.
The Rainforest Cafe in London simulates the Amazon Rainforest with animatronics, special effects and even animal themed bar stools, they’ve thought of it all!
Primacy vs Recency
There’s research behind the ‘Primacy vs Recency’ effect that confirms the importance of making sure the first and last interactions with your guests are the most memorable, as these are the experiences they will remember when they leave. What is the first and last experience a guest has with your F&B experience?
A guest of Original Joe’s Restaurant and Bar in Canada was disappointed to find a note on her car windscreen that she’d left in the restaurant car park overnight, thinking it was a ticket. She was pleasantly surprised to find it was actually a voucher, and a note thanking her for not driving after consuming alcohol. She posted it on social media and it went viral.
A diabetic woman in Texas pulled into the drive-thru of a Burger King and explained that her blood sugar was low and made an order. When she arrived at the window to pay, an employee ran out of the building with a pot of ice-cream and showed her to a parking space so the team could keep an eye on her. She shared her story online, and it received over 200,000 shares, 475,000 likes and 43,000 comments.
Save the Earth
It’s a big topic at the moment, and with good reason. Not only will moving to eco-friendly practices help the planet, it also makes your guests feel better about buying from you. Consider the ‘recency effect’ – if the last message they see as they leave the outlet is how purchasing from you has meant they’re able to recycle ‘x’, that’s bound to make them feel good about themselves, and you.
At Good Bank in Berlin, you can see the fruit and vegetables used in dishes grown right before your eyes. Their vision is to provide food self sufficiently.
Silo in Brighton has been designed back to front, so they think of what may go in the bin first. It’s a zero-waste restaurant, so nothing is sent to the bin, ingredients are used thoughtfully, and waste is composted.
The chances are, your guests will visit your toilets. Do you want your outlet to be remembered for the loo roll escaping across the floor, and the door hanging off its hinges? Build on the experience within the outlet with toilets that are humorous, clever or down-right fancy, and themed in alignment to the rest of your outlet.
Sketch is a set of four beautiful restaurants in Mayfair London, a destination for food, drinks and art – oh and some amazing egg-shaped toilets.
Welcome to the Johnson’s is a classic grunge ‘dive’ on the Lower East Side of NYC, that attracts locals and hipsters alike. Famed for being a favourite of Lady Gaga when she first started out, the ‘themed toilets’ are an interesting sight to behold. Love them or loathe them, you’re sure to remember them.
As a (very small) player in the F&B world myself, (I’m one third of a street food team, operating out of a pony trailer selling cheese toasties in my spare time), I understand more than anyone that when consumers are hit with so many different choices in one space, the way your brand is represented within your outlet is really important.
What makes you stand out from the rest? What drives people to buy from you now, and how can you make more of that?
Implementing change doesn’t have to be expensive, or difficult to do. It just means taking your core USPs and understanding how you can engage your customers further with them. It’s building a relationship that goes further than the exit and keeps you top of mind for the next time they come around.
If you need some help increasing revenue in your food and beverage offer, or you want to bring some eatertainment to your dining get in contact with us.