After the year we’ve had, you’d have to be pretty brave to try and make any predictions about what next year has in store for us. But that’s exactly what we’re doing. Here’s 4 restaurant industry trends that restaurant owners and managers should keep an eye out for in the new year.
1. Local love is here to stay
One of the silver linings for the restaurant industry this past couple of years has been the huge wave of support from local communities who’ve got behind the people and places who make our industry tick. Lockdown ‘pivots’ and new ways of working have been embraced by customers who have gone out of their way to support small businesses and try new restaurants.
Looking ahead, those restaurants who continue to invest in building community will continue to capitalise, with the opportunity to turn some of these first time customers into repeat diners. Making the most of your data and insights to supercharge your digital marketing is a great place to start.
2. Hospitality in the spotlight
Keeping up with the latest requirements on capacity and distancing has almost felt like a full-time job in itself this year. But for restaurateurs and diners alike, there’s been a subtle shift in the experience with a higher level of interaction between staff and customers, and more intimacy within less crowded environments. The creativity of restaurateurs in meeting new requirements with experiences that leave a lasting impression on guests is set to continue, as will the importance of smooth online waitlists and accurate turn times. Making the most of OpenTable Experiences and our new Dining Areas feature could be just the thing to bring your restaurant’s unique personality to the fore and leave a lasting impression.
3. Wellbeing on a plate
Off the back of a year when health has hogged the headlines, Australian diners’ growing focus on wellbeing looks set to continue. Whether it’s flexitarianism, intermittent fasting or the popularity of plant-based protein, the opportunity for restaurants to test the market and have an innovative agenda will help restaurants win customer loyalty. A deep understanding of your guests remains key to driving loyalty, whether it is understanding their dietary preferences, how much they spend or even their favourite dish, wine or table. Using data and insights to understand customer behaviour, whether that be spend or ordering habits, and effectively tapping into this information to market to your diners, will be more valuable than ever in keeping guests engaged and coming back through the door.
4. Tech to the rescue
Over the last year there’s been an increased sense of urgency for many restaurateurs to adopt tech solutions to navigate a quickly changing space. With the last couple of years seeing a rise in partner solutions that prioritise safety and delivery, this trend will continue into the new year and see reservations, marketing and point of sale integration as key focuses for tech savvy restaurants. Whether it’s an online waitlist to manage capacity, or running a pre-paid experience to minimise cancellations and no-shows, having the right partner and product in place can help make the most of the momentum heading into 2023.