Hospitality re-opens to mixed feelings

“Super Saturday” has now been and gone. The hospitality industry is reflecting on how the “big re-opening” has played out. An impressive 28% of UK adults visited a pub or restaurant over re-opening weekend. A further 17% plan to visit in the next week, according to new research from KAM. 

As predicted, a significant proportion of the weekend’s footfall was driven by Generation Z and young Millennials. 41% of those aged between 18 and 34 years old visited a pub, bar or restaurant.

It’s worthwhile pointing out that only around 63% of venues actually DID reopen over the weekend. Despite the British media’s best attempts to make re-opening seem like a massive liability and risk to life by showing one shot of one specific road in Soho, the majority of hospitality venues opened responsibly and with all guidelines being adhered to.

Room for improvement

Customer experience, however, was not up to scratch for some who visited. 18% of those who visited on re-opening weekend said they will not be back again for a while. A further 36% of those who returned said they will continue to visit but not to the same extent as pre-lockdown.

These first few days and weeks will be critical for operators as they welcome people back through their doors. It’s worrying that 18% say they will now not be returning for a while.  Operators need to act fast to understand why customers may have negative feelings about their first experience so that they can turn that sentiment around, fast.

Customer experience is everything

Previous research from KAM – Return of the Pub – has shown that a third of people are less likely to return to pubs and restaurants because they are concerned that the experience will have fundamentally changed.

We all know that atmosphere is absolutely key to an outstanding customer experience, especially in the early days of hospitality re-opening. KAM research shows that 3-in-4 customers think it is the venue’s responsibility to ensure that they have a positive and memorable experience when they visit. So the pressure is on. We know that hospitality, as an industry, provides great, safe experiences, we just need to ensure that we’re communicating correctly with customers.

Customer feedback on hospitality re-opening is key

KAM research shows that, predictably, making a customer feel safe is the number one priority for venues right now. But operators obviously need to ensure they are also providing a fun, enjoyable experience too. Communication is key within these first few weeks and that shouldn’t be one way. Operators need to pro-actively ask their customers for feedback on their first experiences to ensure they can continue to amend and improve their offer.

It’s going to be a long old road to recovery- that we know- and we’re going to lose some operators on the way. We can only hope that the majority manage to make it through- and we’ll be doing my best to support that outcome.

For more information about our recent research contact katy@kam-moses.co.uk.