Restaurants, bar, and hotels are constantly facing competition from every angle. Post-Covid has seen a rise in smaller, more nimble food and drink-based businesses whose goal isn’t to generate huge amounts of cash, but have come about as a result of corporate workers looking to free themselves from the monotony of the 9–5 lifestyle. These businesses are often run by owners with a technological knowhow, an understanding of economics, of business, and of how to read and produce a P&L. These new-age hospitality business owners are able to react fast to changes going on around them and pivot their business with very little upheaval.
The latter half of 2022 has seen the closure of thousands of wet-led pubs and bars, and 2023 isn’t much different. What isn’t portrayed in the media, is the success of “Experience” Venues- establishments that focus on what they can offer or provide to their customers rather than focusing on the price of a pint compared with next door.
The demographics of people who used to make up the nightlife scene has changed dramatically- the days of scouring round for the cheapest pint have long since passed. The new breed of hospitality consumers are more focused on the experience they can get with their money as opposed to how much they can drink with their money. This is one of the main reasons that the typical British pub scene is in decline- they just can’t keep up with the change of pace, and they can’t attract the same market as a newer, brighter venue that screams “Instagram”.
New-Age Hospitality Business Owners shouldn’t be resting on their laurels though. The very success that they’ve unlocked in the industry could also be their downfall. They need to ensure that they’re constantly reviewing what they’re doing, changing, and pivoting where necessary.
One of the key features that any bar or restaurant must keep on top of is their menu. A stagnated, unchanged menu won’t bring about new customers, no matter how good your food is- even McDonalds understand that change is completely necessary for growth and continuation. A few of the key reasons for menu changes in restaurants are:
Meet Customer Demands: Customers’ tastes and preferences are constantly evolving, and it is important for restaurants to stay current with these changes. Updating the menu to include new and trendy items can help attract new customers and retain existing ones. Offering a diverse range of options, including vegetarian and vegan dishes, gluten-free options, and healthy alternatives, can also help restaurants cater to a wider range of customers.
Seasonal Changes: Seasonal changes in produce can also provide an opportunity for restaurants to update their menu. By incorporating fresh, seasonal ingredients into the menu, restaurants can create exciting new dishes that align with the season and appeal to customers’ preferences.
Keep Up with Industry Trends: The hospitality industry is constantly evolving, with new trends emerging all the time. Keeping up with these trends, such as plant-based proteins, locally sourced ingredients, and sustainability practices, can help restaurants stay relevant and competitive.
Stand Out from Competitors: In a crowded market, it is important for restaurants to differentiate themselves from their competitors. By regularly updating the menu, restaurants can offer unique and innovative dishes that set them apart and attract new customers.
Boost Sales: Updating the menu can also help boost sales. By incorporating new and exciting dishes, customers are more likely to try something new, leading to increased sales and revenue.
These points are only relevant if you’re promoting and sharing via social media or advertising online. If you’re not sharing what you’re doing, there’s no way for anyone to know that you’ve made any changes.
Although I’ve written he above points for a food-based business, the same principles apply to bars and pubs- you’ve got to change what you’ve got on behind the bar. If you can’t change very much (like if you’re tied in with the brewery), then focus on what you can add- this doesn’t have to be just product related, this can be a service, an event, or a regular occurrence, or even the way that your menu is displayed (see my article on Utilising Technology in the Hospitality Industry).