The hospitality industry has recently taken a hit as a direct result of the decrease in the ‘going out’ market. With many now choosing a night in over a night out, whether its for family or financial reasons or simply because we are now more time-starved than ever before. This issue has impacted our pubs, bars and restaurants, with a staggering 12,450 pub closures in the UK between the year 2000 and 2017.
The rise and accessibility of cheap supermarket alcohol has been cited as a main causation for the decline in the going out market. Drink and food are now available at super cheap prices, a night in with friends seems like the easier and cheaper option. Here with Snowshock, a provider of iced coffee machines, we look into hospitality businesses evolving in order to stay up to date with new emerging trends?
The importance of recognising strengths
The pubs, bars and restaurants that are finding success in this period are the ones of know the importance of recognising what their strengths are and playing on that. This is similar to how cinemas have discovered their resurgence. For example, while cinemas can’t always compete with the on-demand range of movies streaming services offer, they can more than compete with the desire for escapism and comfort without distractions. In the same way, restaurants and bars can’t always compete with supermarket pricing when it comes to their drinks. But they can more than compete with the drinks trends and offerings that simply aren’t as accessible from the supermarket shelf.
The gin-trend was quickly picked up by hospitality businesses all over the country. Now, pubs, bars and restaurants are benefiting from the wellness and low-and-no trend creeping into 2019. Catering to non-drinkers will certainly appeal to those in a friend group who may otherwise duck out of a night out or make a night in sound easier to cater to all. Adapt by making the bar more flexible in its offerings and it’s an easy display of catering to the customer. Plus, the offering of non-alcoholic spirit-style or wine-style drinks is rather lacking in supermarkets right now — a perfect niche for restaurants and bars to tap into.
Consumers becoming more financially aware
If we can get something for cheaper, we go for it. There is a sense of achievement when you get a good bargain and save our pennies. This puts pubs, bars and restaurants in a difficult situation as there is always a cheaper alternative. travel somewhere else, pay for a meal you could cook at home for less, then travel home. Pros? You get your food cooked for you, you don’t have to do the washing up, and it’s cooked by a professional.
The down sides? You have to pay for travel, be it in fuel or taxi fare. You have to pay more for the food than buying the ingredients yourself. You can’t always tell what’s in the food, and for now at least, you can’t really tell how healthy the meal is. In a world that is becoming more conscious of health and wellbeing, that last point can be a real put-off for eating out.
Eateries always have the selling point of food being professionally prepared and cooked for you. For bars and pubs, the game is even harder; there aren’t many brands of drink on offer at a pub or bar that you can’t buy more of, cheaper, at a supermarket. Then, you can have them at home, with your friends, away from other people, doing your own thing. Why sit in a pub trying to chat with your friends over the sound of a band you don’t particularly like when you can sit at home, chat to your friends with the same drinks, more money in your pocket, and Spotify on with band you do like?
But that’s the issue. People have so much technology at their disposal now that pubs and bars can seem a little dated. Without change and renovation, pubs in particular have felt the sharp sting of decline.
Experience is now everything
This is an issue that pretty much every sector is now facing, consumers now only want to part with their hard-earned cash if they are experiencing something in return. For many years, outlets were mourning the decline of the cinema industry — between piracy and prices, cinema attendance had fallen considerably from its post-war heydays. But despite this, and even with the advent of legitimate streaming services from the comfort of our own homes, the cinema industry has experienced a resurgence of attendance, hitting 177 million UK admissions in 2018, the highest it’s been since 1971.
But where has all this triumph come from? Put simply, cinemas have adapted and played to their strengths. The quality of film has certainly helped, with the popularity of huge-scale cinematic universes tying multiple movies together like never before. But beyond that, cinemas have something streaming services simply can’t match — a real sense of escapism, which is certainly a treasure in difficult times. Plus, cinemas don’t just offer movies now. Instead, they offer screenings of live theatre, opera, and ballet that viewers may not otherwise be able to view. Vintage films are often given a limited-time re-release, offering retro-loving younger generations a chance to see their favourite old films in a cinema setting they may have otherwise missed out on. In short, cinemas offered an experience. Can this tactic be applied to our bars, pubs, and restaurants in order to appeal once more to the public that going out is still a worthwhile expenditure of their time?
Making a lasting impression
It is no longer enough just to provide food and drink at hospitality establishments. Consumers want more, they want their visit to your establishment to provide them with a unique experience. So how are companies evolving?
Selling a story
Using the location of your business can be very beneficial to making it stand out amongst the rest. It might be difficult to persuade someone to leave the comfort of their home sofa for another sofa in a bar, but what about sitting in a post-war bunker concept bar? Now that sounds interesting. That’s exactly what Cahoots in London did. This bar embraces British history and quirky vibes with a ‘hidden’ bar underground. Complete with a train guard at the door, the bar is set in an old Tube carriage and filled with stories of its previous life as a shelter. The theme runs through the whole bar too, with menus presented as old newspapers and themed cocktails that stand out from the usual fare. Even something as simply as providing a dog-friendly atmosphere. The Hogs Head Inn, a dog-friendly pub in Alnwick, offers their visitors to enjoy their dining experience with their furry friend. Something that you can’t get everywhere.
These establishments are not pulling crowds just to try the drinks (though that is no doubt one selling point) — they are offering a full package experience with your friends, loved ones and pets!
It isn’t possible for all hospitality businesses to have a unique location that makes them stand out. But that doesn’t mean you can’t adapt and offer an experience.
The presentation and quality of food offered is something that is really getting customers out of their houses and to bars, restaurants and pubs to see if the food tastes as good as it looks. People aren’t just out to eat, they’re out to photograph their food too. #FoodPhotography has around 30 million photos under its tag, and #Foodgasm has over 40 million photos. Increasing food offerings from standard fare is vital for bars, pubs, and restaurants to survive and draw in customers. That means improving not only the quality, but the range available too. For example, clean eating, health-conscious, and vegan options are all buzzwords in the modern day. Without offering these, establishments are potentially missing out on huge pools of customers. According to one study of 1,485 adults, over 50 per cent said more tempting food would encourage them to visit pubs and restaurants more often compared to cheaper drinks. Home-made, locally-sourced food will quickly travel by word of mouth in the area.
Evolving to meet consumers changing demands is crucial for hospitality businesses to stay afloat and no doubt the industry will go through more changes in the future. . With the right variety, flexibility, and quality, going out can certainly reclaim its crown over staying in!