Tag Archives: restaurants

How Far Will the Fast-Casual Concept Influence Hospitality?

Fast but authentic is a trend that’s taken hold in the hospitality industry. Fast-casual dining that combines quality and convenience has changed the experiences being offered in restaurants, cafes, hotels and retail stores. But is the trend sustainable, and how will it evolve?

The incredible growth of fast-casual

Modern diners want food that’s prepared to order, using quality ingredients, yet is still quick and easy. This desire has driven incredible growth in the dining trend known as fast-casual.

Fast-casual chain restaurants are leading growth in the global foodservice industry. Market Insight company Technomic’s annual Top 250 Fast-Casual Chain Restaurant Report in 2016 showed cumulative sales for the top 250 fast-casual chains were up 11.6 per cent.

Chain restaurants are not the only place the trend is having an impact. Many hotels recognise that traditional full-service restaurants don’t meet expectations of modern travellers, and are increasing revenues by switching to a more relaxed dining experience on property.

Fast-casual requires an investment in quality products and special attention to facets such as fitout and sustainability, but it also generates a higher spend per customer (than fast food) and more chances to provide unique dining experiences that offer enhanced value.

Lifestyle and technology changes drive dining choices

Disruptors like Airbnb and Uber have changed consumer perceptions of what constitutes a service, while apps, consumer rating sites and aggregators have shifted the balance of power to customers in terms of influence and choice.

Technology has fostered a belief that quality and value can be obtained quickly and with minimal cost, effort or inconvenience. Fast-casual is about having your cake and eating it too: fast food without the grease; regular fine dining without the expense; luxury and consumerism without the environmental/social downsides.

The fast-casual trend also represents a desire for a more engaged and authentic experience on the part of diners. Traditional dining concepts like draping napkins on people’s laps may be seen as old-fashioned, but in other ways, diners crave a return to tradition.

Rustic or wholesome meals, simple ingredient lists, and comfortable settings that encourage conversation feel more honest to a consumer that is wary of marketing promises—and can build a sense of trust that is more powerful than other indicators of value (such as price).

Fast_Food_Concept

 

Casual does not mean apathetic

Fast-casual diners want delicious, on-demand food options but their purchasing decisions are driven by deeply held concerns.

According to Nielsen’s Global Ingredient and Out-of-Home Dining Trends Report, based on responses from more than 30,000 consumers across 63 countries, an increased focus on health and wellness is strongly affecting eating choices.

Food preferences and sensitivities have changed food choices, but technology has also created more informed consumers who are more interested in using food to control their health.

The report states: “Two-thirds of global respondents (68 per cent) strongly or somewhat agree they’re willing to pay more for foods and drinks that don’t contain undesirable ingredients.”

People want food that is healthful, natural, organic and sustainably sourced; but even more so, they want to avoid artificial flavours and colours, hormones and chemicals.

Modern diners are also more conscious of factors including supply chain management, workers rights and food waste. The Global Food and Drink Trends 2017 report by market research company Mintel reveals that many people now turn down special offers to avoid wasting food.

Is the influence of fast-casual going to last?

Can the fast-casual concept continue to effectively deliver both convenience and quality at scale? Will consumers continue to pay more for pared back service?

Contemporary diners are tech-savvy, time-poor, looking for value and concerned about how their purchasing decision defines them and their place in the world.

Fast-casual dining has evolved as a direct result of these concerns, which show no signs of disappearing.

There are enormous, emerging opportunities to customise fast-casual dining experiences. Nielsen’s research shows almost a third of people have restrictive diets, yet fewer than half (45 per cent) say their needs are being fully met by current food and beverage offerings.

How can hospitality best leverage fast casual?

Leveraging the fast-casual concept firstly means meeting people’s needs quickly, with minimal friction—by focusing on efficient processes, technologies and well-trained staff.

But this must be paired with an emphasis on quality and authenticity that responds to customer concerns about health and sustainability, which will also open up greater opportunities to build loyalty over time.

People will continue to rely on hospitality businesses to support their busy lifestyles and enable them to make healthy choices even as they indulge—and they will pay for that privilege if the offering represents true value.

About the Author

Jody McDonald is a creative communicator who works with businesses to plan and develop compelling content and websites, and writes about the digital economy, marketing trends and the future of work.

How 457 Visa Axing will Impact the Hospitality Industry

The 457 visa is no more. The Federal Government has brought the axe down on the controversial work visa for overseas visitors in Australia.

In its place will be a new two-tiered visa program, which will come saddled with higher restrictions and greater skills tests for migrant or travelling workers.

But what does this mean for the hospitality industry?

Of the 97,766 primary 457 visa holders in Australia last year, 15,260 worked in the accommodation and food services sectors alone, which means this news is going to have major ripple effects throughout the industry.

Food and beverage

There is already a shortfall of workers for jobs in the food industry, and that isn’t likely to get better anytime soon.

Industry body Restaurant and Catering Australia predicts that 160,000 jobs may go unfilled by 2020, with Restaurant and Catering SA deputy chief Sally Neville saying this shortfall would need to be met by overseas workers.

“Given we do not have adequate numbers in training, it’s clear that the industry will need to rely more on immigration to fill jobs,” she said.

Neville said that regional areas of Australia were already finding it more difficult to find workers than businesses in the urban regions.

“They just don’t have the steady stream of travellers or uni students to plug the shortfall,” she said.

Accommodation

Despite the accommodation industry’s heavy reliance on workers on a 457 visa, the Australian Hotels Association remains optimistic.

A spokesman said the changes presented an opportunity to leverage a more targeted approach towards getting migrant workers into hotel jobs.

“We will be happy to work with the Federal Government to ensure that their objective of growing local employment is met, while also encouraging growth in the hospitality sector through carefully-targeted temporary skilled worker placements, particularly to support regional Australia,” he said.

457 Visa and how its impacting the hospitality industry

Travel and tourism

Regional tourism operators stand to be the most affected by this proposed change to the visa scheme, with 457 employees filling many roles they struggle to find locals willing to take on.

Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) chair Martin Ferguson said they would be pushing the government to ensure training is supplied for locals to fill the roles that could potentially be vacated by those previously on 457 visas.

“Once we have seen the full content of the government’s changes we will be making representations to relevant ministers to ensure that our industry—one of the country’s largest growth industries—receives the support it requires over the next five years,” he said.

“We are also seeking greater investment in training and development of local residents to ensure that we can offer world-class service standards to complement the massive transformation of the industry’s physical product.”
Related Article:

What Customer Experience do you Want to Deliver?

About the Author

Josh Alston is a versatile and experienced journalist, covering rounds for daily, regional and community newspapers that include; news, sport, politics, community issues and much more. In 12 years working as a journalist and editor, Mr Alston has covered major events like Federal elections, budgets, sporting events such as State of Origin and covered the economic and physical growth of Queensland. Today, Mr Alston is the founder of Art of Writing PR, generating topical and engaging copy for his clients to enhance their online presence and build their brands.

Five Lessons I Learned Going From Franchisee to Restaurateur

By Wally Mostafa

As part-owner of middle eastern-fusion restaurant BEKYA, my prior experience of owning four Subway franchises has been enormously helpful towards the early years of setting up a restaurant of my own.

So, here are my top tips for others looking to make the big move…

  1. Franchising teaches you how to divide up your budget

With Subway, it’s all there in the manuals and the training provided—what percentage of operating costs should go on staffing, rent, produce and other costs, and even how to turn over a reasonable profit. Having worked in the hospitality field through Subway for so long, it’s taught me what proportion of my costs should go into each area of the budget to maximise profit.

That said, with a popular franchise like Subway, location is key, as people come to you because you’re located in a convenient spot. With a restaurant, you become the destination, so the rent represents a lower percentage of total costs, wages, and training; the things that make for a great customer experience from the food to the treatment they receive, are of a higher percentage.

  1. Staffing your restaurant at the optimal level is a big part of your success

Staffing is a huge element of getting a restaurant right.  You need enough employees back-of-house creating wonderful food, and you need the right number front-of-house ensuring a great customer experience. Getting it wrong means blowing out costs, and damaging your reputation. My years with Subway have taught me how to get that balance right.

  1. Customer experience is key to fine dining—they aren’t just looking for a well-priced sandwich close to work.

In a Subway store, people come in for a quick and easy sandwich. One bad experience won’t necessarily cause a great deal of damage to your profit, but it always pays to strive for excellence. You also have some leeway when you get started, as people are ‘kinder’ to mistakes at that end of the hospitality industry. But with a restaurant, it can be one strike and you’re out. With social media, all it takes is one bad review and your restaurant sees a dip in sales. This means you need to hit it right out of the park to start with and maintain a high level of customer satisfaction. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself in damage control, trying to earn back a good reputation.

Wally_Mostafa_Bekya_Sydney_Restaurants_Cafes

 

  1. As a franchisee, a lot of the operation is made easy for you, and when you go out on your own, you need to learn new skills

With a franchise, you’ve got pre-existing supply chains and buying power when it comes to ingredients and other materials—from uniforms to cutlery and packaging. You’ve also got support on tap if anything goes wrong. If, for example, a machine breaks down, you simply call head office and it’s dealt with quickly from there. Since opening BEKYA, I’ve had to build my own network of suppliers, negotiate the best price for the best produce, and stay up to speed with pricing. Likewise, if machinery breaks down, I have contracts with the equipment suppliers, but it’s not quite as seamlessly sorted out, and definitely not as quick

5: Being a franchisee gave me the flexibility to open on my own

Owning a franchise like Subway usually provides a stable income, and that’s the appeal for a lot of owners. A Franchise system gave me the flexibility in my personal life to get set up and ready to go out on my own. It’s also taught me many of the skills I use now and it’s provided something of a blueprint to what I need to be doing to turn a profit.

Obviously, there are differences between a restaurant like BEKYA and a chain sandwich bar like Subway, but there are also many basics that stay the same, and without my experiences there, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Related Article:

From Subway to Bekya

 

High Expectations and Hospitality Aggregators: How to Manage Reputation

Online Digital Hospitality experience

The digital economy has opened up ways for people to interact with hospitality businesses. What began with booking a hotel room or ordering pizza online has continued to evolve at a rapid pace, and it’s not likely to slow down anytime soon.

App-based aggregator sites that leverage information (rather than actual goods or services) have become a familiar and trusted presence, mostly because they offer customers improved choices, convenience and value.

The question for hotels and restaurants is: how do you leverage aggregators without diminishing your own influence online?

Online spend will continue to increase, especially on mobile devices

The first thing to recognise is that it’s impossible to be in the hotel or food service business without a digital strategy. Online shopping is now a pervasive part of the decision-making and purchasing process for customers across all industries.

Market research company Reportbuyer analysed the global online takeaway food delivery market and estimated it would increase significantly in the years to 2020. This is due to continued increases in urban populations, spending by the global middle class, and increased smartphone usage.

Additionally, a report from Deloitte on the outlook for travel and hospitality in 2017 forecasts that people will continue to turn to online booking sites to compare options and find deals.

It advises the battle between online sites and hotels chasing direct bookings will be influenced by those who can provide “best-in-class shopping and booking experiences (particularly on the mobile front)…”

Challenges of aggregator sites for hospitality businesses

Aggregator sites offer customers greater choice and transparency, but the downside for hospitality businesses is that they commodify your offering, create distance and remove control.

They limit the way a business is presented and rely on their own data to match people with options or provide recommendations. If the aggregator also manages the logistics of food delivery, it exposes a business to customer service problems they cannot directly remedy.

This makes it more difficult for hotels and restaurants to differentiate themselves, deliver integrated cross-channel marketing, or provide a joined-up customer experience.

Aggregators have been successful in building brand recognition, and research by McKinsey shows that platforms are sticky—that is, once customers sign up they are unlikely to switch.

That poses an additional problem of how to choose between the growing number of popular aggregators, and maintaining an accurate presence on multiple sites.

Food Apps Foodora UberEats Deliveroo Menulog

Understand and leverage the appeal

Despite the potential negatives, aggregators offer enormous potential to reach customers and increase sales, and businesses can’t escape the fact that customers enjoy being empowered.

Hotels and restaurants can find ways to benefit from aggregators, and maintain a strong influence over customer experience and online reputation.

Firstly, even if customers ultimately purchase via an aggregator, it doesn’t mean they aren’t using their smartphones to research buying decisions. A stand-alone business website is still a powerful marketing tool.

Content on aggregator and stand-alone sites should always be up-to-date, but your business website should be the definitive and best source of information. Ultimately, it should drive home your points of difference. Use the control you do have to give customers a richer experience.

In the same way that customers in-store rely on menu boards to make decisions, online customers want to carefully consider your menu before they buy. They seek beautiful photos of the meals, descriptions and increasingly, specific information about ingredients and advice about nutrition.

Nielsen research on Australian consumers found an increasing trend of online customers researching grocery purchases online by visiting a manufacturer’s site or app directly, rather than relying solely on the retail site.

Ensure the design, speed and user experience of your own booking and ordering interfaces match that of the best mobile apps, and invest in online advertising and content marketing that boosts your visibility in online searches.

Cultivate your community and contacts to manage experiences

Customers trust aggregators because they offer transparency and make purchasing decisions simpler. But your business’s perceived value within an aggregator platform starts with building a connection with your customers outside of it.

Find ways to market your hotel or restaurant that focuses on fostering relationships at every stage of the customer journey.

For example, social media communities where people are encouraged to engage, share their experiences, and generate their own content will allow to forge an emotional connection to your brand.

Email marketing is incredibly valuable, if used well, to maintain contact with previous customers, provide tailored deals and continue a conversation that enhances brand loyalty.

Meet your customers where they are, and build your own brand

Online booking and food delivery aggregators make life easier for customers but necessitate that hospitality businesses put more energy into strategies that build relationships with customers before and after a transaction.

By doing so, hotels and restaurants can maintain a strong online presence that minimises the disruption caused by third-party sites, all the while continuing to meet customers’ high expectations for accessibility.

About the Author

Lana de Kort is a published author and business writer with over 20 years experience working with industry, commerce and community.  In 2014 she co-founded a network of over 21 writers across Australia.

What Customer Experience do you Want to Deliver?

Online Customer experiences shared through Food apps

Having a vision of an ideal customer experience should be the starting point for investing in technologies and marketing approaches to grow your business. That’s one of the key messages for hotel and restaurant owners from Deloitte’s Travel and Hospitality Industry Outlook 2017.

Touch points are part of a bigger picture

Deloitte’s report suggests that gaining loyal customers in 2017 will come from, “…a shift in thinking to make customer experience paramount.” But what is customer experience?

Customer experience is shaped by many things: the quality of your products and services, the friendliness of staff, price, convenience, your decor, the music you play…the list goes on. But what matters, even more, is putting all these elements together in a strategic way.

Insights by consulting firm McKinsey shared in the Harvard Business Review reveal that perfecting individual touchpoints with customers may not be enough, if the sum of the parts does not meet expectations. That’s where customer experience comes in, ultimately acting as the impression a person develops over time based on their entire interaction with your brand.

McKinsey found that companies that successfully manage the entire customer journey “…reap enormous rewards: enhanced customer satisfaction, reduced churn, increased revenue, and greater employee satisfaction.”

growing business customers experience online

What experiences will drive real value?

Given that customer experience is a cumulative effect, most people don’t get fed up by one bad interaction. But that doesn’t mean customers are inclined to be loyal. Most people are indifferent—willing to change their plans to take advantage of a better price, service or experience.

That means you need to envision the ideal journey for the customers you want to attract, and then prioritise efforts that will allow you to offer those experiences consistently, and at scale.

Deloitte’s report suggests brands need to provide truly valuable and memorable experiences that focus on authenticity, personalisation and immediacy. It says hotel guests, “…will define a brand by the quality of their experiences across a proliferation of touch points, including smartphones, desktops, wearable apps, over the phone, and on property”.

It takes a holistic, integrated approach to cultivate devoted customers, willing to leave positive reviews online, share your hashtags on social media or recommend your business to a friend.

 

 

Navigate new technology carefully

Deloitte’s report points to the fact that, as in many other industries, travel and hospitality leaders will be those that adapt to changes in the economy, technology and consumer mindsets.

Making the customer experience special and embedded throughout your business while riding the wave of disruption will inevitably involve investments in technology. But there is a balance to be found between being left behind and moving too quickly.

An example from the Deloitte report is the millions spent upgrading hotels with tablet kiosks similar to those used by airlines, only to be made obsolete by the rise of app-based mobile check-in.

The report acknowledges that making smart choices will only become more difficult as new technologies like virtual reality and the Internet of Things emerge. Decisions need to be driven by a clear understanding of what makes a great customer experience and what technologies will support that.

Create experiences worth sharing

The report also uses the example of a successful airline app that allows passengers to track their luggage using radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology. The app was not created to meet a significant practical need (lost luggage affects a small percentage of people) but rather to boost customers’ peace of mind: integral to a positive flying experience.

Understanding your ideal customer experience will also allow you to take full advantage of the most influential marketing platforms, including social media.

In a recent review of social media trends that matter in 2017, content marketing platform Contently highlight the fact that most people that use the internet also use social media, more often than not via their mobile, and most likely to watch or share video content.

Hotel and hospitality businesses need to understand how customers use travel and hospitality experiences to build their own personal brand; especially using image and video-based platforms like Instagram and Snapchat.

Deloitte’s report suggests that brands, “…make it a point to create experiences worth sharing in order to capitalize on the enormous exposure these platforms provide.”

Start with customer experience to succeed

It’s not possible to design and promote experiences that break through apathy or to cleverly leverage technologies and platforms to boost loyalty unless you can clearly imagine the ideal customer experience.

Using that knowledge to make decisions will ensure a cohesive customer journey where marketing promises are consistently met or exceeded in unique ways that resonate with your customers and deliver excellent hospitality experiences.

About the Author

Josh Alston

A former news hound, editor and roaming reporter for News Corp Australia for 12 years, Josh is now a freelance copywriter covering politics, innovation, technology, health, science and financial services, among other topics.

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