The restaurant industry experienced a huge hit during the pandemic. Sales growth continues to fluctuate as deep staffing shortages continue to plague the industry. Thankfully, Black Box Intelligence’s consumer intelligence insights allow for first-hand insight to trends from which the industry can learn.
Our restaurant industry performance pulse provides a weekly update of restaurant data and insights. Each update highlights the most relevant and timely workforce, financial, guest, and consumer trends.
We analyzed some of the recent data and rounded up the following ideas for how to increase guest traffic to your restaurant. Here are two key takeaways.
Optimize Guest Experience
Since restaurant traffic has been lighter in recent months, guest experience is more important than ever. Our latest performance pulse data this month revealed some pertinent findings regarding service guest sentiment.
There were more positive mentions in online reviews about the “experience” being “great” and “wonderful” and more positives about service being “attentive.” There were also fewer negatives about “wait” or “minutes,” which was a problem commonly encountered during the previous quarter as speed of service was constantly highlighted as an issue.
Most diners debating where to go will refer to Yelp or other similar social review sites for other peoples’ feedback. Ask for feedback from happy customers on a regular basis to ensure your reviews stay current and positive. This will ensure those new to your brand have relevant insight.
Be sure to monitor these sites on a regular basis and respond to comments and reviews as needed. This further emphasizes your eatery’s human touch and that you care about those who visit. You can also leverage positive reviews for marketing.
Target Younger Diners
Full-service restaurant sales have yet to recapture sales lost during the pandemic due to softer spending by older guests. Spending by 25 to 44-year-olds, however, has modestly eclipsed pre-pandemic levels.
Why is this the case? Younger guests are experiencing strong work prospects, with rapid wage hikes and increasing job openings, as well as benefiting from recent stimulus and the student loan pause. Currently, their spend is up nearly 20 percentage points since before the pandemic and represents roughly 9 percent of spend mix.
As a result, it’s beneficial to create marketing strategies geared toward this demographic. Start by optimizing your social media presence. Instagram, in particular, presents a variety of opportunities for restaurants and is hugely popular among the millennial and Gen Z audiences.
Instagram is a visual platform and it’s common for folks to share photos of their meals and unique dining experiences. In addition to regularly posting photos to your own account, create dishes and a visually appealing ambiance to encourage others to take and share photos as well.
From a practical perspective, be sure to monitor your venue’s geolocation on the platform and keep an eye on posts in which you’re tagged. Take advantage of video features like Instagram Reels and Stories that have been shown to be favorited by their algorithm. This gives you the opportunity to get creative with your marketing and create something with the potential to go “viral.”
These are just a few of the numerous ways to encourage diners to visit your restaurant. Targeting the right audience and crafting authentic dining experiences are key aspects to encouraging people to visit and return often. By monitoring timely data and trends, you can tailor your marketing strategy accordingly and achieve the best ROI for your efforts.