The pandemic has brought the restaurant industry and indoor dining to a standstill. With all the uncertainty surrounding the virus and the future of a vaccine, many of us have opted to dine from home, and data from audit firm Ernst & Young suggests that 27% of consumers have cut spending across all categories during the pandemic.
But just because we’re weary and circumstances have shifted, doesn’t mean we can’t support restaurants. In recent months, many restaurants have implemented unique ways to engage customers all while accommodating social distancing. From distanced games to concerts, the options are endless. Here are some things restaurants have been doing in order to engage customers with precaution.
Bringing in entertainment is one way that restaurants have tried to occupy customers. Those with outdoor patios are setting up socially distanced games like cornhole or soccer, while those with staging areas are asking friends to come in for live music or paying it forward to a local musician.
Some restaurants have also started offering trivia nights or a themed night equipped with specialized food and drinks. It’s a unique way to bring in customers and keep them connected, and a fun night out from the craziness of the pandemic.
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Some restaurants have also started utilizing social media to improve brand awareness and connect with customers. Bars and restaurants with mouth-watering sandwiches are creating videos easily posted to Facebook or Instagram.
Some have started offering live streams, teaching customers how to make the perfect burger or a sublime margarita, or utilizing social media to showcase their latest community service projects. Twenty-nine percent of customers are willing to pay a premium for companies or businesses that contribute to their community, an Ernst & Young report found. Going virtual is helping many restaurants safely stay connected with customers, while also growing their following.
Meal kits are boxes of ingredients that restaurants are offering customers to enable them to cook and enjoy restaurant favorites from the comfort of their homes. A recent report from Grand View Research, Inc., a U.S. marketing and consulting company, estimates that the global meal kit delivery market will reach about $20 billion by 2027.
Ordering a meal-kit is a great way to not only support your favorite restaurant but also have a little fun with it too. The boxes typically group a variety of raw ingredients together and some restaurants are even offering pickup options for customers or an additional delivery surcharge. This is a unique way that restaurants are connecting with their customers and bringing food to those a little hesitant about venturing out to a restaurant.
Adapting to a life changing pandemic is tricky for anyone, including restaurants. But with the help of innovation, restaurants are maintaining customer interactions even during a time of social distancing.
The next time you’re struggling to decide what to eat for dinner, consider supporting your local restaurant. They’re watching out for you!