Covid-19-Induced Declining Restaurant Visits? 4 Ways to Get People to Eat Out Again

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Dining may become a thing of the past if we do nothing about it.


Nearly 5 years ago, the Wall Street journal published a post showing a decline in restaurant visits. Even though the trend declined by 1%, it resulted in a $3.2 billion loss in the restaurant industry. And that’s nothing compared to 2020.

Researchers cited a couple of factors have as the major causes of this decline.

One of the factors is the extra caution taken by consumers to reduce spending. As a direct result of the Great recession, consumers are careful about how and where they spend money. People are looking to save more and have taken up cooking at home as a measure to save more.

The other factor is the rise in online food delivery services. A lot of people would rather have food delivered to their door than go out to eat. This way they save time and energy, and they get to eat in the comfort of their homes.

But there’s one more factor that far outranks and has exacerbated these cited by researchers – the Pandemic. It has increased cautionary spending in customers and drastically reduced the rate of people eating out.

Therefore, restaurant marketers need to come up with solutions to get people dining out again. They need to remind people how much fun it is to eat out and in turn make the experience stress-free and enjoyable.

I have outlined a few ideas that restaurant marketers could use to get people dining out again.

Here they are:

  1. Give Them Something They Can’t Get At Home

Most restaurants aren’t offering anything their customers can’t get at home. So why should they dine out? 82% of meals are being consumed at home, and customers prepare a major part of these by themselves.

You want them to come and dine in your restaurant? Give them reasons beyond tasty meals.

One of them is the dining experience. As a restaurant owner, you need to look into the customer experience your business offers. Make sure your customers aren’t rushed, stressed out, cheated, or disrespected. Train and retrain your staff to provide top quality customer service.

Try to raise the comfort level of your restaurant beyond what your patrons can get at home. Provide good quality entertainment, like playing soft relaxing music in the background. Make sure your restaurant has a warm and relaxing ambience. Work on your décor; put up visually appealing colours on your walls and see that the fittings aren’t in poor conditions.

Space out your tables. Use seats that are soft and comfy. Serve your patrons with squeaky clean dishes and cutleries. Offer free guest Wi-Fi and let your patrons know that you do. Put a ‘Free Wi-Fi’ sign outside your restaurant door or on the windows.

Integrate your guest wifi with a Wi-Fi analytics & marketing tool. It will enable you collect customer data in real-time. The data will help you know who your customers are and what they want.

Set up a kiddies’ zone to entertain kids while their parents relax and enjoy their meals. These are some of the things your customer may not get when they eat at home.

  1. Be a Part of the Community

There is a saying that goes, ‘if the mountain won’t come to the prophet, the prophet will go to the mountain’. This should apply to your business.

You may need to go to your customers to reach them and get noticed. How? By going to the community where they live and being a part of it. It pays to mingle with the people. Some people may be too busy having no idea that you even exist. And so, mixing up with the locals is a sure-fire way to get your brand in front of them.

How, you ask?

For one, you could offer meal discounts to the local civil servants. Or host a fund-raiser in partnership with a local NGO. For another, if there is a school around, you could offer to provide meals at their cafeteria. Or sponsor a local football little league team.

Make sure you display your brand name/logo when you take part in community events. This way you build brand awareness. And you increase the chances of people choosing you when they want to eat out.

  1. Launch a Loyalty Program

If you already have a handful of patrons dining with you, it is wise to reward them. You could do this by offering discounts on family meals for frequent guests. You could offer free desserts, or free coffee for every two meals purchased.

These are general ideas. Feel free to tweak them to fit your particular situation. Offering loyalty programs shows your regular customers that you appreciate them. And appreciating your customers could lead to more repeat business.

  1. Go Online

Social media are great channels to showcase your restaurant to the world. Your website, too. People consume a lot of information on mobile devices. So make sure your website is mobile friendly. Put out relevant content weekly. This will help to boost online engagement with your brand.

Take clean photographs of your meals and post them online. Studies have shown that people get hungry for a particular meal when they see a picture of it. If you have got a special meal for the week, post it online. Or have your followers take pictures of the meals they had at your restaurant and post it online.

You can attract new customers through online engagement with your brand. Some of whom may have preferred to eat at home. Read 7 Ways Restaurant Can Use Social Media Effectively For Free to know more.

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