2022

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Independent Operators are Making Changes

Despite Challenges, Independent Operators are Making Changes for the Better

by David Klemt

White and red neon restaurant sign that reads "Kitchen Open"

Independent Restaurant Coalition survey results show our industry is still struggling but some operators are making positive changes.

The hospitality industry absolutely needs and deserves help. The Restaurant Revitalization Fund absolutely needs replenishing.

However, hospitality continues to prove its resiliency, adaptability, and innovation.

It must be said, though, that it’s exhausting for owners, operators, and workers to have to constantly be resilient. Sometimes, the industry needs help. It’s past time for help to come.

But, I digress. Back to the IRC and their recently released survey results.

Still Overwhelmed

The IRC surveyed close to 1,200 respondents who are part of the restaurant and bar community. Survey participants represented all 50 states in the US.

Some respondents received RRF grants, some did not. Of course, receiving a grant wasn’t a silver bullet for surviving the pandemic.

However, the grants certainly helped:

  • Nineteen percent of grant recipients took out personal loans since February 2020. In comparison, that number more than doubles to 41 percent for those who didn’t receive grants.
  • Since the beginning of the pandemic, five percent of grant recipients took on additional investors. Again, that number more than doubles for operators who received no RRF grants. Eleven percent took on more investors to survive.
  • Due to the omicron variant of Covid-19, grant recipients had to reduce staff by 21 percent on average. Their counterparts had to decrease staff, on average, by 30 percent.
  • When it comes to selling off a personal asset to help their business survive the pandemic, ten percent of grant recipients did so. For those who didn’t receive an RRF grant, that number increases more than two-and-a-half times to 26 percent.

The challenges—an inadequate word, truly—have led to industry-wide changes. Per the IRC’s survey:

  • Hiring challenges have impacted 91 percent of independent restaurants and bars.
  • Menu prices were hiked up by 89 percent of independent businesses.
  • Nearly half—42 percent—reported to the IRC that they had pivoted to alternate business models after ceasing indoor and outdoor service.
  • Six percent of independent restaurants and bars pivoted to offering outdoor dining only.

Progress Being Made

Operators have been facing hiring challenges for several months now. In response, some operators offer various incentives.

As examples: meals for honoring scheduled interviews; cash for showing up to interviews; large cash bonuses for remaining in position for 90 or more days.

However, none of the above really address longstanding, widespread issues hospitality workers have given as reasons for quitting jobs (and the industry entirely).

To name just two, livable wages and benefits. Despite the challenges operators are facing, they have made positive changes. We’re not talking a small percentage, either.

Per the IRC, independent businesses reported the following changes:

  • 84 percent of restaurants increased wages.
  • 37 percent of restaurants, bars and other independent hospitality businesses added paid sick leave to the benefits they provide.
  • 21 percent of employers have added paid vacation to their benefits.

These changes (and others) are a promising start, showing that operators are listening to workers. Bringing traffic and revenue back to pre-pandemic levels—and beyond—is a great goal. But how will the industry get there?

One answer is for operators to listen to the hospitality professionals they rely on for their businesses to thrive. Listening, and then acting in meaningful ways.

Image: Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Moderation Movement: Damp January

Moderation Movement: Damp January

by David Klemt

Cocktail resting on a ledge in front of a window

Move over, Dry January, there’s yet another alternative to “traditional” alcohol consumption at the start of a new year.

As we know, Dry January consists of abstaining from drinking any alcohol for 31 days. Also known by the awkward name Dryuary, this annual practice continues to gain popularity.

However, not everyone is comfortable with this all-or-nothing approach. Instead, there are those who want to try Damp January.

What is It?

You’re likely already guessing how Damp January works. Rather than abstinence, participants practice moderation.

Generally speaking, that’s it—it isn’t a complex concept. However, there are many approaches to Damp January.

Some people set hard limits for themselves. For example, a wine drinker may resolve to only consume three glasses of wine per week. A beer drinker may choose to only have two beers from Monday through Friday.

Another approach is to determine how many full alcohol drinks one consumes on a weekend. Then, they decide to reduce that consumption by 50 or 75 percent.

However one chooses to participate in Damp January, the goal is reduction and moderation.

Is this a Fad?

In a word, no. Whatever label is put on it—moderation, sober curious, reduction—many consumers are looking to drink less alcohol.

Dry January was once seen as a fad. Instead, it’s safe to say it’s much closer to being mainstream.

Of course, time will tell if Damp January will earn as much buy-in as its abstinence-focused counterpart.

However, it’s easy to see how Damp January may become long-term behavior for some consumers.

What Does this Mean for Operators?

There are those who simply want to be more mindful of their alcohol consumption. Their goal isn’t to stop drinking alcohol, it’s to make lifestyle changes and reduce their drinking.

Sift through social media, forum and blog posts, and articles on the subject, and you’ll come across interesting motivations for moderation. In many cases, people point to alcohol playing a role in their social lives.

Of course, that means drinking with friends, coworkers, and family members at restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. They simply want to consume less alcohol per visit.

This doesn’t have to present as a threat to operators. The increasing popularity of alcohol-free beers, zero-proof spirits, and low-ABV options can prove profitable for a restaurant or bar’s bottom line.

Guests who making the decision to not consume alcohol or seek out low-proof options still want to socialize. They still want to visit bars and restaurants. More importantly, they want to feel comfortable in their choice.

So, it’s up to operators to ensure Damp and Dry January guests don’t feel alienated or mocked for reducing or abstaining from drinking. Providing low- and zero-proof drinks—and highlighting them on menus—shows these guests they’re welcome and supported.

Additionally, it’s crucial that these guests receive the same level of service and presentation as other people at your bar or restaurant. A little thought to make sure they’re treated the same will go a long way.

Image: Mathew MacQuarrie on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Keep Up Your Momentum in 2022

Keep Up Your Momentum in 2022

by David Klemt

Start of 2022 track or path concept

In 2022, our focus needs to be on recovery, which means starting strong, gaining steam, and keeping momentum going throughout the year.

The past two years have been a nonstop flurry of starts, stops, and false starts for American and Canadian operators.

Every challenge operators face during a “normal” day has been compounded. Recruiting, hiring, training, marketing, increasing traffic and revenue, managing inventory…it’s all more challenging.

However, “challenging” doesn’t mean “impossible.” Under the best of conditions, restaurant, bar, and hotel operations are a challenge. Overcoming adversity, in other words, is a consistent element of daily operations.

Now, whether we should view constantly overcoming challenges as a badge of honor… Well, that’s a different conversation, one about industry-wide changes that are long overdue.

For this post, my focus is on starting 2022 off right, building momentum, and keeping it.

KRG Momentum

Last year, we launched a coaching program called KRG Momentum.

KRG is known for our Roadmaps to Success, which include of our in-depth feasibility studies and detailed business plans, both of which help operators secure funding. However, some of our clients aren’t ready for our full suite of startup and expansion solutions.

KRG Momentum was designed from the ground up for these clients and consists of two programs. On one hand, we have Momentum for startups. On the other, Momentum for current operators looking to improve operations.

Both Momentum programs include a dedicated KRG coach; one-on-one video or phone consultations; and reviews of multiple operational elements. Of course, startup operators have different needs in comparison to experienced operators. And new concepts require different strategies than established operations.

For example, KRG Momentum’s startup program includes (in part):

  • review and navigation of startup questions and challenges;
  • weekly sessions that evaluate the past week and identify the next week’s focus; and
  • identifying blind spots throughout the project, positioning a startup operator to maintain their budget and desired opening date.

And current operators who choose KRG Momentum will receive, in part:

  • an in-depth discovery session to uncover the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats;
  • review of P&L statements, menu engineering reports, labor scheduling reports, menu design, online reviews, marketing campaigns, service sequence, and other pain-points; and
  • strategies to improve both revenue and profit margins within 90 days while working less hours per week.

Let’s Go!

All hospitality professionals—from business owners to staff—are members of a tight-knit family. Unless you’ve lived hospitality, you just don’t know the challenges, risks and rewards.

That means that startup operators and established operators don’t have to try to navigate the industry alone. Whether you aren’t sure where to even begin your ownership journey or aren’t sure how to overcome the hurdles you’re facing, the team at KRG Hospitality is here for you.

If you’re ready for us to help, click here to learn more about KRG Momentum. And click here to schedule an introductory call.

Image: Tumisu from Pixabay

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Global Trends 2022: Technomic

Global Trends 2022: Technomic

by David Klemt

"For the World" neon sign

What? You didn’t think we would focus only on Canada and America when it comes to 2022 trends, did you?

It’s difficult to keep up with restaurant, bar, and cuisine trends if you keep your focus too narrow.

Technomic is acutely aware of this. So, we took a look at senior research manager Aaron Jourden’s 2022 Global Restaurant Trends Forecast report.

One specific item, a coffee, is a striking standout. But we’ll get to that in a moment…

Operations

First, let’s take a look at restaurant and bar operations.

It’s not just North America that’s facing a labor shortage. And in 2022, Technomic expects this challenge to persist.

There are a few ways we can look at labor shortages and other challenges.

One: We can make no internal changes, pretending hope is a strategy and things will work themselves out magically. Two: We can get cynical and hostile, putting the blame on workers.

Three: We can look at the industry as a whole and operations in particular to make meaningful changes. Working conditions can be improved, leadership skills can be developed, operations can be streamlined, inventory can be cross-utilized and maximized. What are we offering workers and guests? What can be changed to reduce costs, and to increase traffic and revenue?

In other words, operators are in a position to adapt, innovate, and make meaningful changes that will ensure our industry’s long-term survival.

Labor, supply chain, and cost issues will continue in 2022. However, Technomic predicts that 2022 will be the year of measurable recovery.

Fading Ghosts

Technomic isn’t saying that ghost kitchens are going put to rest.

Rather, the firm expects the hype around them to fade away. To be sure, ghost (and virtual—not the same thing) kitchens enjoyed quite a bit more than 15 minutes of fame in 2020 and 2021.

However, we’ve seen recent reports of certain ghost kitchen chains facing logistic and legal troubles. The shine very much seems to be dulling on this pandemic trend.

Again, Technomic doesn’t think ghost kitchens will suddenly disappear. But the incessant coverage? That may be on the way out in 2022.

Food & Flavor Trends

Now, the fun stuff. If Jourden’s report proves accurate, menus throughout the world are going to see some intriguing additions:

  • Breakfast Comes Back. With people heading back to the office and children back in school, the breakfast daypart will return. Operators who did away with breakfast may see value in bringing breakfast food and beverages back.
  • Chicken or the Egg? Per Jourden’s report, the egg sandwich is in a position to knock chicken sandwiches off their pedestal. So, chicken wins either way. Jourden points to an interesting element of this prediction: Eggs are fun, allowing for puns on menus, marketing, and branding.
  • Regional vs. Global. A number of regional brands will stand out against global brands in 2022. Regional brands speak to what today’s consumer wants: locality and hyper-locality; sustainability and responsible business practices; and a focus on healthfulness.
  • What Coffee?! Jourden’s report identifies a number of truly innovative and intriguing F&B trends for 2022. The one that grabbed my attention immediately? Avocado coffee. Already popular in Indonesia, avocado coffee is expected to find its way onto menus across the globe. Other items Jourden thinks will gain traction in 2022: Pão de queijo (Brazilian cheese bread), Mexican flatbreads, vegetarian-friendly meat alternative halloumi, mutabal or moutabal (baba ghanoush’s cousin), regional comfort soups, and plant-based eggs.
  • Functional Foods. If you didn’t find avocado coffee intriguing, what about dessert foods imbued with healthful characteristics? Jourden identifies a few desserts that do more than satisfy a sweet tooth: Hand pies that boost immune systems, macarons made to enhance moods, and even ice cream that will enhance a person’s skin health and appearance.

Next year is going to be challenging. That simply isn’t up for debate. But it’s also going to be rife with opportunity and innovation for savvy operators.

Image: Jon Tyson on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

American Trends 2022: Technomic

American Trends 2022: Technomic

by David Klemt

Wooden spoon loaded with salt

Two weeks ago, I reviewed and shared Technomic’s “Canadian Trends: Looking Ahead to 2022” report, and now it’s America’s turn.

Not too surprisingly, the US and Canada are similar in terms of a few 2022 trend predictions.

And while the Omicron variant of Covid-19 is causing some restaurants and bars to close, there is some good news from Technomic.

Salt

First, a difference between America and Canada. As you may recall from my review of Canadian predictions, Technomic predicts butter will be even more important next year.

Interestingly, salt is the big prediction for the United States. The reasoning is similar: people are seeking out comfort in these difficult times.

Technomic’s “2022: The Year of the Climb” report states flat out that, “Salt is the new fat.”

The industry intelligence firm predicts that salt will be increasingly important in kitchens—and on tables—in 2022.

For example, Technomic expects operators to focus salt-cured fish and meats. Of course, that doesn’t just meet a predicted consumer demand. Cured foods can be preserved for longer, which is appealing to operators.

Seaweeds, salt blends, and salty sauces will be used in the kitchen. According to Technomic, some of those will replace (or accompany) traditional salt on tables.

Going further, Technomic predicts that salt will find its way into cocktails. This can be in the form of salty ingredients or salt water, a trend from a few years ago.

Creative Prep

Let’s stick with the kitchen a bit longer.

This is one of the strongest similarities shared by the US and Canada. Technomic predicts that operators will need to focus on cross-utilization and creativity.

As you’ve likely already figured out, this is because of supply chain issues. The more ways items can be used without introducing new SKUs, the easier things may be for operators.

Some examples of cross-utilization suggested by Technomic:

  • Roasting, grilling, and blistering items normally served raw.
  • Pickling ingredients.
  • Fermenting items.
  • Turning some items into jams.
  • Aging some ingredients.

Labor Challenges

Obviously, the labor shortage is felt throughout North America. Unfortunately, this is another similarity when comparing Technomic’s American and Canadian 2022 trend predictions.

KRG Hospitality has addressed the need for the industry to make significant changes several times this year. In particular, founder and president Doug Radkey published a book, Hacking the New Normal, calling for change to improve working conditions and the industry’s long-term survival.

Technomic is suggesting the same. The firm predicts the following for 2022:

  • Wage increases across the board.
  • Benefits (healthcare, emergency child care, 401(k), and more).
  • Virtual hiring events.
  • Referral and signing bonuses.

However, more needs to be done. The industry doesn’t simply need to revamp its image, it needs to:

  • address—and not dismiss—issues raised by current hospitality professionals;
  • solve the problems that led to so many hospitality workers quitting jobs and giving up on the industry;
  • implement real solutions for the problems the industry has faced and, frankly, nurtured for decades.

And that’s just the start. If we don’t face our industry’s challenges head-on, there won’t be much of an industry in the future.

The Battle for Comfort

Yes, comfort food will be important next year. Hence the entire section on salt above.

However, when I mention comfort in this section I’m referring to personal comfort levels.

You’ve likely been hearing from industry peers and seeing on social media that a number of bars are closing until December 29 or December 30. These temporary closures are due to spikes in positive Covid-19 cases, mostly driven by Omicron.

Many Americans, eager to return to a semblance of their pre-Covid lives, want to spend time in restaurants and bars. However, people need to balance their comfort levels with their desire for social experiences.

In response, Technomic predicts that operators will need to balance the on-premise and off-premise. In other words, omni-channel operators must dial in their offerings.

Per Technomic, operators have to figure out their mix: interactive in-person experiences, takeout, and delivery.

Good News

Technomic is making two 2022 predictions that should come as a relief to operators.

First, Q1 of 2022, per Technomic, “will reveal a particularly strong year-over-year performance” in comparison to 2021.

Overall, the firm projects a 10.4-percent sales increase for 2022 when compared to 2019 sales.

There is, however, a caveat. We’ll have to take rising menu prices into account when analyzing this year’s and next year’s sales levels.

For those wondering which category is predicted to perform the best, Technomic identifies limited-service restaurants will recover quickest.

In contrast, full-service will see slower recovery. Business, leisure, and indeed “bleisure” travel will have an impact on full-service traffic.

So, 2022 isn’t going to magically return to pre-pandemic “normal.” However, should Technomic’s conservative sales prediction prove accurate, recovery is on the menu.

Image: Jason Tuinstra on Unsplash

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Hotel Trends to Watch in 2022

Hotel Trends to Watch in 2022

by David Klemt

Unlit hotel sign against blue sky background

Partially driven by the pandemic, in part driven by the march of innovation, these are the hotel (and motel) trends to watch in 2022.

As is the case with restaurant and bar trends from the last two years, these trends are likely to quickly evolve into industry standards.

Once slower on the uptake in comparison to other industries, hospitality is now embracing tech innovations rapidly.

Of course, not every 2022 and beyond trend relies on tech. However, most of the big changes involve tech in some way.

Below are the trends (soon to be standards) to watch and adopt next year.

Digital Room Keys

We do everything on our phones. So, why shouldn’t we access hotel and motel room keys via the devices always in our hands or pockets?

Many tech-forward hotel properties have made it possible to unlock hotel rooms via phone apps. As consumers feel more comfortable that it’s safe, secure and reliable, we can expect physical room keys to become obsolete.

One can also make the argument that doing away with millions of plastic keycards is a more sustainable practice.

Your Face is Your Passport

Points* to anyone who gets the movie I just referenced. (*Points have no value and are not redeemable for anything. But we think you’re cool for racking them up regardless.)

Some properties will make it possible to access a hotel room via biometrics. CLEAR travelers will already be familiar with this tech process.

In short, a guest will be able to unlock their room with their face. In terms of personalization—a guest expectation that’s only growing—facial recognition tech can instantly deliver on a guest’s temp, lighting, and other preferences.

I can also see this technology permitting guests to access clubs; club levels; health centers; pool areas; and order and pay for everything from food and beverage to their entire visit.

Of course, this form of tech relies heavily on people’s comfort levels concerning privacy. So, operators will need to prove themselves responsible with guest data.

Touchless Everything

Convenience works both ways. Guests want frustration-free visits. Operators and managers want to eliminate pain points wherever possible.

Guests are becoming familiar and comfortable with checking in via their phones or kiosks. In some hotels, guests navigate the lobby without ever engaging with an employee.

With the proliferation of digital assistants in homes, guests are already comfortable with voice-based functionality. Ordering room service, turning on the TV and streaming, playing music, drawing automated shades, adjust room temperatures and lights… Digital assistants eliminate several more touchpoints.

AI tech also means hotels can operate with smaller teams effectively. So, hotel design is likely to keep evolving: lobbies will look different, as will rooms, restaurants, bars, and other amenities.

Virtual Room Selection

Speaking of AI, what about VR?

Tech-savvy guests will appreciate being able to “tour” different room options in the virtual space. Such a feature can start a guest’s visit off on the right foot before they ever step onto property.

They’ll know they’re getting the features and views they want, setting up a positive experience. It’s likely VR room tours and selection will also help hotels upsell guests on rooms and features.

Cryptocurrency

There are already hotels and resorts out there accepting crypto. There’s no reason to believe this will fall out of favor any time soon.

In fact, it’s likely guests who prefer to pay via digital currency will be able to pay for every element of their visit with crypto. For these guests, a tech-heavy experience will be appealing:

  • Check out room options via virtual reality before booking;
  • Book their room in the VR space.
  • Utilize digital check-in, then unlocking their room via phone or facial scan.
  • Paying for premium amenities and F&B via crypto ties to biometrics.
  • Contactless check-out.

Guest Who

Unsurprisingly, business travelers were the first to return to hotels during the pandemic. A percentage of these guests sought out hotels that could offer them a work-from-anywhere option.

For the most part, these guests simply needed a fast, reliable WiFI connection. Of course, many of them chose properties for more leisure-focused amenities. This led to the coining of a new industry term: bleisure, a portmanteau of “business” and “leisure” travelers.

It’s likely hotels, motels and resorts will see more traffic from bleisure, solo, and staycation guests in 2022 and beyond.

Many guests will also make property selections based on a brand or group’s sustainability efforts. So, operators will need to ensure they’re being provably sustainable and not just green-washing to attract these guests.

As we can see, technology will feature heavily in the changing hospitality landscape. Initial outlay may be pricy, but as innovations become more commonplace, costs will be driven down. But offering the features that will increase traffic and guest spend? A healthy bottom line is worth it.

Image: NeONBRAND on Unsplash

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Square: 2022 Threats & Opportunities

Square: 2022 Threats & Opportunities

by David Klemt

Square terminal in restaurant kitchen

As all hospitality professionals know, the past nearly two years is imposing rapid change on the industry, necessitating rapid, strategic adaptation.

The key word in the above sentence isn’t “adaptation,” it’s “strategic.”

Of course, it’s hard to make strategic choices without as much information as possible.

To that end, we’ve reviewed Square‘s recently released “Future of Restaurants: 2022 Edition.” This is the company’s second annual Future of Restaurants report.

Square partnered with Wakefield Research, surveying 500 operators and 1,000 consumers to identify 2022 threats and opportunities.

Threat: Labor Shortage

Most operators aren’t going to want to read this prediction from Square. However, we can’t identify and adapt for opportunities if we don’t acknowledge threats.

Per Square’s report, the labor shortage may never see a correction. In other words, welcome to yet another new normal.

More than 70 percent of operators say they’re facing a labor shortage, per Square. Just over 20 percent of available positions were, at the time the survey was conducted, unfilled.

Instead, operators will likely, according to Square, need to make operational and work culture changes:

  • Improve working conditions. For example, encouraging and acting on team feedback. Another example? Modernizing scheduling.
  • Ensure workers are being mentored and not simply managed.
  • Hire, train, assign tasks, and schedule more strategically to operate with a smaller team.
  • Offering incentives that entice higher-quality candidates to work for you.

One participant quoted in the Square report claims that QR code ordering dropped their labor cost percentage by 150 percent.

Threat: Lack of Tech

As SevenRooms suggested when looking forward to 2022, technology solutions can lessen the burden of labor shortages. That leads us to another big threat: failing to embrace tech.

Some operators bristle at the word “automation.” For many, it conjures an image of robots in the kitchen and delivering food to tables.

Obviously, we’re opposed to replacing staff with any form of automation. However, we support automating tasks if that means team members are better utilized.

Why not automate inventory? Why not automate online order filling? If it improves operations and the guest experience, automation is less threatening.

According to Square’s report, 62 percent of operators think automation is appealing for managing online, delivery, and contactless orders. Ninety percent of operators say that back-of-house automation—if staff can focus on more important tasks—is a good idea.

More than 90 percent think automated inventory is an appealing solution.

It has taken a lot of time for hospitality to catch up to other industries in embracing tech. But Square reports that 36 percent of restaurants upgraded their business tech in 2021.

Of course, automation will become a threat if operators lean too heavily into it and stop paying attention to detail.

Phrased another way, be tech-savvy, not tech-reliant.

Opportunity: Omni-channel

Square see implementing an omni-channel strategy as the way forward. In fact, their general manager for Square Restaurants, Bryan Solar, said the following:

“We see the time of the dine-in only or takeout only as largely done forever.”

Going omni-channel (diversifying) in the restaurant space means making online ordering and delivery important elements within the overall business strategy. To that end, Solar posits kitchens will grow in size to better handle online orders.

Square’s survey reveals some intriguing numbers:

  • 13 percent of consumers say they’ll avoid restaurants that don’t offer online ordering.
  • Among restaurants with online ordering, those channels generate 34 percent of their revenue.
  • Over the past year, 54 percent of restaurants either added or expanded online ordering channels.
  • Online ordering is likely here to stay: 69 percent of respondents plan to offer it post-Covid-19.
  • 24 percent of operators are planning to allow guests to order alcohol from them online.

Another interesting set of numbers pertains to first- and third-party delivery. As we’ve stated several times, we much prefer operators offer first-party or direct delivery. According to Square, 49 percent of operators plan go direct delivery. More than half—62 percent—will pursue third-party delivery. That suggests that some operators will offer both.

Opportunity: Direct Ordering

When it comes to engaging online guests, operators need to control the experience. As I wrote for another publication years ago, a restaurant or bar’s website is still very important.

This statistic proves that statement true: Per Square, 68 percent of online guests want to order via a restaurant’s website or app, not a third-party.

More than likely, a significant portion of those guests want to know they’re supporting a restaurant and its staff directly. Hence the importance placed on ordering via the website or their own branded app.

So, operators would do well to ensure their websites feature an ordering widget. Or, they can opt to have an app built (or at least skinned) for their business.

Opportunity: Kiosks

According to Square’s survey results, 79 percent of consumers prefer ordering from kiosks over ordering from staff.

Most consumers and operators likely associate ordering kiosks with fast food restaurants. However, other categories can also benefit from these devices.

Close to half—45 percent—identified it as a preference when ordering at a casual-dining restaurant.

And fine dining isn’t immune to the convenience of tech. A little over 20 percent of consumers prefer to order via kiosk in the fine-dining space.

Overall, kiosks speak to the guest desires for convenience and safety. More than a third indicated that ordering via digital menu is appealing because they don’t have to touch a menu someone else has touched. And 37 percent like a digital option because they don’t have to wait for a server to bring them a physical menu.

Eleven percent of Square survey respondents will avoid a restaurant if they don’t offer digital menus.

Nearly half (45 percent) of restaurants are planning to offer QR code menus post-Covid-19. Another benefit of digital menus is dynamic pricing. As costs fluctuate, operators can increase or reduce prices easily without printing new menus.

Outlook

Representing a stark contrast from 2020 survey results, nearly 60 percent of operators say the survival of their restaurants is a concern in 2022.

That’s still a high number but vastly lower than how operators answered about 2021. Last year, 92 percent of operators surveyed said they were worried about survival.

According to Square’s report, operators are looking past surviving and making long-term plans. That’s a welcome sign that confidence is improving.

To review Square’s “Future of Restaurants: 2022 Edition” report in its entirety, click here.

Image: Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

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SevenRooms Predicts 2022

SevenRooms Predicts 2022

by David Klemt

SevenRooms guest data image

As we near the end of a tumultuous 2021 we must look ahead to 2022 to set our industry up for best strategies, innovations, and recovery.

SevenRooms is doing just that, looking at what operators should consider to meet guest expectations next year.

In a blog post on the company’s website, SevenRooms reveals what they believe are the keys to success in 2022.

Let’s jump in.

More is More

The first quarter of 2022 will mark two years of the pandemic and its affects on the industry.

As SevenRooms says, some guests will not have been out of their homes for two years. The company predicts this contingent will be looking to unleash pent-up demand.

Of course, that represents an opportunity for operators. Another wave of pent-up demand can mean a boost in traffic and revenue.

However, guest expectations will be sky high. That cliché that less is more? Yeah, you can toss that right out.

More will be more for this contingent of guests looking to dine and drink out after feeling cooped up for month after endless month.

Sure, some guests are aware that operators are facing labor shortages, increased costs, and other pandemic-driven challenges. They know that workers are overwhelmed and finding themselves in hostile confrontations they certainly don’t deserve.

And sure, some guests are sympathetic to those struggles. However, they have their demands and expect restaurants, bars, and hotels to meet them.

What can operators do to meet those demands? In fact, what can they do to anticipate and overdeliver on guest expectations?

SevenRooms has a couple suggestions.

Collect guest data. At this point, this should be a given. How can an operator engage with and retain guests if they don’t really know anything about them?

Embrace more tech. Platforms like SevenRooms can handle a restaurant or bar’s reservations quickly and easily. This is a feature that, per SevenRooms, more than half of guests expect a restaurant or bar offer. Some platforms can also automate marketing; send guests post-visit surveys; and tackle review aggregation.

Convenience Reigns Supreme

Here’s a quick, impromptu survey:

Do you prefer a seamless restaurant, bar or hotel experience, or do you like frustrating dining, drinking and lodging experiences?

I’m going to go ahead and assume you prefer the former option. In other words, you like what your guests like: convenience.

Well, SevenRooms is predicting that the desire for convenience will only grow stronger among guests.

Yes, delivering on the increasingly important topic of convenience will rely on collecting data. But rather than view it as just one more task, SevenRoom suggests looking at it in a more positive light.

A number of the conveniences guests expect can be automated. They can even help ease the burden of the labor shortage somewhat.

For example, contactless ordering and contactless pay are close to becoming standards. Offering those features to guests means meeting expectations, thereby delivering an excellent guest experience. On-demand ordering and paying can also ease some front- and back-of-house pressure.

Collecting guest data allows management and front-of-house staff to add personal touches before a guest is even seated. Again, seamless, excellent guest service.

Another convenience? Online ordering. SevenRooms isn’t the first to predict that on-demand ordering is here to stay. In fact, a suite of conveniences will be important moving forward:

  • Online ordering during in-person visits and for delivery or pickup.
  • A user-friendly reservation system that goes deeper than just picking a date and time. Why not allow guests to select seats and even request upgrades?
  • A virtual waitlist. Not only is this convenient, SevenRooms says this feature can boost walk-in traffic and reduce abandonment.
  • Contactless, mobile paying options.

There you have it. Two seemingly basic predictions—higher expectations and a desire for even more convenience—with the potential to boost traffic, loyalty, and revenue.

Image: SevenRooms

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Canadian Trends 2022: Technomic

Canadian Trends 2022: Technomic

by David Klemt

Yellow neon "butter" sign and scaffolding

Curious about what to expect in 2022 as a Canadian restaurant, bar or hotel operator?

Technomic has some predictions for next year.

Reviewing their “Canadian Trends: Looking Ahead to 2022” report, creativity and streamlining will be keys to success.

Let’s jump in!

Butter

Yes, this is why I chose the image above. Technomic is very specifically identifying butter as an important 2022 F&B trend.

And no, they don’t appear to be predicting the popularity a particularly rare or esoteric butter. The industry intelligence firm means butter will prove important in 2022.

In large part, Technomic is pointing to comfort food as a driver for butter.

Generally, the firm points to how versatile butter is in the kitchen. Browned and herb-infused butters, says Technomic, will find its way into cocktails.

Flavor and texture will play an important role, extending the butter prediction into buttery foods territory. For example, Technomic predicts butterscotch, buttermilk and ghee will see a boost in usage and demand.

Additionally, the plant-based movement will help nut butters grow more popular. In fact, Technomic says nut butters will find their ways onto burgers and into cocktails.

Interestingly, the firm’s butter prediction gives operators two larger trends to watch: comfort food and plant-based.

Cross-utilization

You don’t need me to tell you that North America—and the rest of the world—is facing supply chain issues.

I know you’re exhausted from just the past nearly two years of constant adaptation and pivoting. In 2022, you’ll have to continue with your creative problem solving.

The supply chain challenge (there’s an understatement) requires creativity in several areas. This includes the kitchen and menu.

Technomic suggests that one path forward through supply chain problems involves ingredient preparations:

  • Pickling
  • Candying
  • Salt-baking

The firm says these creative takes on ingredients operators already have will extend product life; add new flavors to dishes; and deliver new textures. Those last two offer guests new experiences.

In addition, getting creative with the ingredients you may be able to get more readily will help streamline and update 2022 menus. However, revising your menu will require careful consideration of your supply chain and cross-utilization, with a heavy helping of creative prep.

Running Lean

Smaller footprints. Shrunken staff. Streamlined menus. Smaller, shrunken, streamlined, optimized, leaner…

Call the process whatever you want, Technomic is predicting that operators will need to “optimize” (read: make smaller) their businesses.

Of course, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. We’ve read and heard predictions since last year about what will need to shrink moving forward.

While some recent news reports say that ghost kitchens are out, Technomic seems to think that’s not the case. Technomic suggests ghost kitchens will remain viable for operators who want to expand without investing in real estate.

Additionally, Technomic’s report suggests something that should come as no surprise. In short, if it works for a brand or location, smaller may be better and here to stay.

Growth

Now, this is the most promising of Technomic’s predictions: Growth.

Per the firm, the foodservice industry in Canada was down 29 percent in Q1 of 2021. Pre-pandemic, sales reached $95 billion. That represents a loss of nearly $30 billion.

However, there’s reason to be optimistic in 2022, according to Technomic.

The firm expects growth of 21 percent in 2022 over 2021, or sales of $74.8 billion. Should this prediction prove accurate, 2022 would close just three percent under pre-pandemic sales.

Technomic identifies full-service as the foodservice segment to experience the most growth next year at 26.2 percent. In comparison, the firm predicts limited-service to grow 7.3 percent.

Next year won’t be easy. 2022 won’t be a magical return to normalcy. But there is room for optimism if Technomic’s predictions are correct.

Image: Jon Tyson on Unsplash

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