We know you’ve heard this phrase many times before, but it bears repeating: today’s restaurant guest is looking for an experience. Generation Y, also known as the Millennials, surpasses Baby Boomers and is three times the size of Generation X. This population has gained the status of economic leaders, and they can make or break a restaurant.
So, what can you do to appeal to this generation? The number one consideration is creating a unique dining experience. They also appreciate an emotional connection to the food they eat, which revolves around a concept and food items with a backstory.
Guests remember your restaurant because of the memories you help them make. They’ll be talking about your restaurant long after they leave if they genuinely enjoyed a fantastic meal and the experience.
According to a TouchBistro survey, 42% of Millennials are influenced by a restaurant’s entertainment offerings when choosing where to eat. So, let’s explore how you can create a restaurant experience that brings new customers in the door and converts them into loyal guests.
- Live Music: The above survey found that almost half of the surveyed diners (44%) found live music a compelling attraction. Consider surveying your existing customers to find the type of music they most enjoy.
- Locally Sourced Food: Just under 50% reported that locally sourced food impacts their restaurant choices.
- Sustainability: Along the same lines, consumer trends increasingly lean toward eco-friendly restaurants. This includes how animals are raised, sustainably harvested fish, and produce grown by regenerative agricultural measures.
- Wine & Craft Beer Tasting: Pairing good food with wine, craft beer, or signature cocktails is still a popular event. Consider bringing in a guest sommelier who can entertain guests with the many brand’s backstories.
- Themed Events: Hosting a themed event offers a unique experience for staff and customers alike. Create the appropriate atmosphere so that when people walk into your establishment, they feel like they’ve been transported to another world, or at least another country. You can go all out with a dinner theater or murder mystery or simply transport your guests to places like the beautiful island of Bora Bora with enticing images and beverages, French Polynesian cuisine, and a laid-back island atmosphere.
- Community: Creating a space where friends, family, and strangers can easily connect and share stories is at the heart of experiential dining. Think of icebreakers or a common goal that brings people together.
Eatertainment is a relatively new arrival on the restaurant scene and proving massively profitable. While we can’t all be the next Top Golf, Flight Club, or Puttshack, we can create memorable entertainment events.
When creating an experiential atmosphere, consider all of the senses: taste, smell, touch, sight, and sound. Even with all the other activities, the food needs to be the most compelling aspect. If it indulges all the senses in a manner that leaves a positive and lasting impression, you can be sure that the new guests you enticed into your doors will be coming back for more.
How do I make my restaurant unique?
The first step is taking into account your target market. Are many of your customers college students, local office workers, or tech-savvy professionals? Each group will be drawn to a very different atmosphere and restaurant. For example, if it’s the latter group, consider incorporating the latest molecular gastronomy techniques like pearls and caviar spherification and foams and airs emulsification—technology-enhanced food.
Pop-up dinners are another way to make your restaurant stand out from the crowd. Consider a guest chef offering unique food or a unique take on your regular menu.
How can you make a fun, exciting dining experience?
Some restaurants are going all out on the fun and exciting dining experience. Some larger establishments are incorporating entertainers with aerial skills who perform remarkable feats from two pieces of rope. Even seemingly everyday events like trivia night can get people excited. It’s all about drawing people together for unique activities they may not experience or take part in at home. Consider creating a theme associated with the game night and offer prizes for the winner.