For more than a year, the hospitality industry has been challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as vaccinations become more widespread, consumers’ confidence and excitement to rejoin public spaces are rapidly rising.
According to a recent study by E15, the exclusive analytics partner of Compass Group, the number of consumers unconcerned about dining out outnumbered people consciously avoiding restaurants for the first time since mid-March 2020.
But in anticipation of increased participation, operators should remember that certain consumer behaviors and expectations are indefinitely altered. This same study notes several trends that have emerged in the “new normal,” such as an increased focus on plant-based diets, increased interest in sustainability and an expectation of convenience solutions – particularly among millennial customers.
Below are a few ways that you can prepare to meet the “new normal” expectations for your employees who will soon be returning to work.
More than half of millennials – 54% – self-identify as flexitarians (eating mostly plant-based foods but allowing for meat occasionally) and 79% of Gen Z choose to go meatless one to two times a week. The COVID-19 pandemic has even caused 30% of boomers to eat more plant-based foods. When developing your menus consider:
- Offering plant-based substitutions
- Offering healthy snacks and meal items
- Communicating ingredients
Sustainability front and center
Consumer concerns around sustainable practices have grown in the past year with nearly half of consumers reporting the pandemic has made them more concerned about the environment. Eleven percent reported they have shifted their purchases to products with environmentally friendly claims in the past year.
Alleviate this tension in daily consumer purchasing by doing the following:
- Upcycling ingredients
- Using sustainable packaging
- Communicating philanthropic endeavors that focus on sustainability
Convenience is key
According to the E15 study, 76% of consumers are continuously on the lookout for things that make their lives easier, with 55% of millennials reporting convenience as a top driver when purchasing food. As COVID-19 has led to the rapid technological adoption across industries, there are several ways to provide your employees with safe, convenient shopping options using technology, such as:
- Contactless transactions
- QR code menus
- Mobile ordering prior to dine in
As more of our guests are returning to the workplace, we recognize the level of comfort around dining will be different for each guest. By understanding and monitoring ongoing customer sentiment and guest preferences, we are able to implement processes and technologies as well as engineer menus that provide our guests with an outstanding hospitality experience.
About E15 GROUP
E15 is an industry-leading analytics firm that works with clients to make better business decisions using data and advanced analytical methodologies. E15 thrives on empowering operators and clients to manage complexity through harnessing data to create insights they need. E15 does so by leveraging their experience serving some of the largest and most forward-thinking companies today. E15 is an expert at bringing together disparate sources of data to uncover opportunities for improvement, including food and beverage offerings, behavioral motivators, technology usage and operational processes.