2017: take it or leave it?

How do you feel when you reflect back on 2017? What defined the year for you and what are you looking forward to continuing into ‘18?

Last year wasn’t as revolutionary as 2007 – the year that both the iPhone and the Kindle debuted. Nor was it as monumental in our industry as 2016; when we saw dining precincts like Tramsheds and Barangaroo unveiled in Sydney; in Melbourne, the standards continued to elevate via awe-inspiring bars with incredibly scrumptious food at venues such as Marion and Embla. The venerable Stokehouse also reopened and American style menus were all the rage at Up in Smoke and Fancy Hanks.

That said, 2017 was marked by a couple of firsts that will surely morph from novelty to necessity for the industry:

  • Significant shifts in diner behaviour that were strong and steady enough to impact our ‘research radar’. This in turn has created a shift in restaurant operations.
  • New, exciting tech capabilities manifested in mobile devices for restaurant operators – anything less may now never be enough.

Just as a good red lipstick never goes out of style, neither does a great meal at a fair price with a nice atmosphere and thoughtful service. Here are just a few of the important things that resonated with the industry last year:

Less discounting, more value: The ability to surface offers (a special menu, a limited-availability dish) on both OpenTable and restaurant’s own website means operators control how and when a unique experience can be enjoyed. Moving the lever to add more diners to a quieter shift without sacrificing hard dollars and brand identity.

Traditional dine time demand spreads to week days: 70% of diners we surveyed are choosing mid-week dining over weekends. The demand for some Tuesday night socialising, without the hassle, where more ‘specials’ are available, make mid-week dining a no-brainer.

Diners engaging with the restaurant experience through more diverse channels: Advances in technology to consumers – now being able to book in non-traditional channels such as Apple Maps and Facebook Messenger.

Reservation data on your phone – Logging into a browser from a desktop/laptop computer is sooooo 2015!  Last year, GuestCenter users realised the value of real-time reservation book and shift details being accessible directly from their phone, wherever and whenever they needed it.

Sydney vs Melbourne

2017 saw the hugely successful Sydney opening of a Melbourne icon – Chin Chin – does this provide encouragement for other venues to cross state lines? Could this be the spark for great venues cross-pollinating these two great capital cities?

Will Fly For Food

Our ‘Will Fly For Food’ report showed that experiencing a destination through its food is now the number one consideration for holiday travellers. With the Commonwealth Games fast approaching and an influx of travellers into the country expected for this flagship event, this represents a fantastic opportunity for restaurateurs to capture more of these awesomely predictable and price-insensitive international diners.

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