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What are ‘restaurant choice’ drivers?

When choosing a restaurant, the usual suspects help determine a customer’s ultimate decision: the proximity of the restaurant, the time available to dine (a quick bite to eat or a leisurely meal) and the type of cuisine desired. However, there are a handful of critical other drivers that heavily impact our choice of restaurant, that can be be summed up by the way a restaurant makes us feel

In the last 5 years, there have been heavy studies into “restaurant choice drivers,” i.e. the factors that drive people to choose a restaurant or not choose a restaurant. 

The 9 primary restaurant choice drivers have been identified as: 

1. Food

2. Consistency

3. Service

4. Environment

5. Reputation

6. Convenience

7. Value

8. Innovation

9. Family Friendliness

While all important to factor into the running of your business, they are not all equal in the way they impact the decision-making process. Some matter more than others.

In the diagram below, the y-axis lists the 9 different choice drivers. These are ordered by impact or importance from left to right, with food and consistency being the most important, and family friendliness the least important.

What this tells us: even if a restaurant’s interior wasn’t the the most up-to-date (“Environment”), people would still keep coming if the staff are great (“Service”). Or, that people are willing to pay a bit more in exchange for smaller servings (“Value”) if a restaurant has a great rating or reviews (“Reputation”). Taste and consistency are, above all, the most important factors for return customers.

At AreTheyHappy, we have added a 10th choice driver, one that is hard to quantify, though nonetheless critical: “Experience,” i.e. how the restaurant has made the person feel. This is shown in the very right-most column in the graph below.

Most brands in the hospitality space understand how critical the guest experience is, but they don’t necessarily have the tools to easily capture and monitor how they’re actually executing on it.

If you stay on the pulse of guest sentiment, you’ll be able to capitalize on what’s making customers happy, and address any issues that may arise before it’s too late.

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