5 ways to make eating out more exciting
Our bespoke research showed us that in 2022, the top 3 reasons people go out for food and drinks are to socialise, treat themselves, or to celebrate something*. So with the eating out occasion being more of a special experience, it’s no surprise that people are looking for something a bit different when they go out.
Moreover, with the cost of living crisis really tightening consumers’ purse strings at the moment, giving your customers something they can’t replicate easily themselves at home can help justify the cost of eating out. In fact, research has shown this is the case for many – with 44% of people saying they’d be likely to spend more on a dining experience that was unique**.
And we can see the appeal of unique experiences reflected in the rise in new experience-led venues we’re seeing across the nation. Competitive socialising has become particularly popular, especially with younger consumers. In fact, earlier this year, 63% of 18-24 year olds took part in a social entertainment game like ten pin bowling or crazy golf in the month of April alone***. They were no more likely to have gone to the pub for drinks than to have done this – so it’s an established part of their social lives.
But being an experience-led venue is not the only way you can offer your customers something different when they venture out of home. In fact, there are several ways you can shake things up and create a unique or novel experience for your customers.
So, here are some ways you can create an experience that encourages consumers to believe it’s worth parting with their cash…
1. Immersive décor
Of course great food and drink is an essential part of a memorable eating or drinking out occasion. But to create a really special experience, the environment is important too. Themed décor can give your customers an immersive experience. Plus, if the decoration in the venue is fun and unusual it’ll encourage those ‘instagrammable’ moments.
2. Live cooking or theatrical cocktail making
Live cooking demos can be a great way to give your customers some entertainment, to really add to the eating out experience. Not only does it emphasise how fresh and bespoke the dishes they’re ordering will be, but it also shows off your chef team’s skills and provides some great opportunities for your food and drink to be shared on social media.
If an open kitchen or mobile cooking station isn’t feasible at your venue, theatrical cocktail-making or dessert decorating could be potential options too!
3. Make it interactive
At the other end of the spectrum, self-serve options can be a real novelty for consumers. Popular wine bars and pubs have used this technique recently – and it’s great if your customers are picky about how their pint is poured, or struggle to pick which single wine to order from the bar. Plus, if you’re finding labour shortages and resource a challenge at the moment, self-serve options can be an added benefit.
Korean cuisine has really risen in popularity in the past couple of years, which is why it was one of our 2021 Food Trends. Korean BBQ style restaurants where consumers cook their own meats at the table have become a novel experience people are enjoying – especially for social occasions.
Of course, these cook-it-yourself options are unrealistic for some venues but menu options like build-your-own desserts could be a fun way to create more of an experience! Or offering a wine tasting evening, a cocktail making class, or a food and wine pairing experience could also provide some unique and interactive experiences for your customers.
Plus, it can encourage people to try new options from your menu! 28% say that a ‘tasting session’ would encourage them to purchase a new premium alcoholic drink****, and 56% of wine drinkers say they’d like to become more knowledgeable about wine*****.
4. Giving your menu a signature twist can really stand you out from the crowd
For example, specialising in an interesting cuisine or a format like street food dishes. We know that authentic cuisines are a real hit with consumers this year as they become more adventurous with food choices. 6 in 10 people told us that they like trying venues that offer new and interesting cuisines and food types*. And we’ve also seen that restaurants specialising in world cuisines are leading the way in terms of outlet growth, according to Lumina Intelligence’s latest 2022 Eating Out Market Report.
If focusing on specific cuisines is not quite right for your venue, it might be that it’s based on seasonal or local produce, or it heroes sustainability in innovative ways . Dishes made from would-be-waste products, or even charitable donations linked to some of your dishes. We’ve seen that consumers are making more mindful choices, and 1 in 5 would actually choose one venue over another if it had a specific focus on sustainability*.
5. Could you partner with other chefs or outlets to create limited edition menus or unusual fusions?
Doing this will not only give your customers a new and exciting experience, but it could also help attract a more diversified crowd, and bring new customers to the table (no pun intended!).
*Bidfood Trends 2022
**Research by ePOS Hybrid, Bdaily UK, July 2021
***Mintel Leisure Outlook, UK, Spring 2022
****Mintel Attitudes towards Premium Alcoholic Drinks, UK, 2022
*****Mintel, Still, Sparkling and Fortified Wine, UK, 2021