Jul26

The ever moving industry of hospitality

(26 /07 /2016)

Many moons ago when I was working front of house, it was all about customer service, about knowing everyone by name and greeting everyone as family. Each restaurant had its specialty and people came your way just for that special dish. I still very much believe that having exceptional customer service and a unique selling point are essential to a business however it appears that there is a time and place for these.

As much as I hate to admit it, times have changed and so have our customers. My first realization was when I was in Hong Kong at the start of the year and one of the places we went, went against everything I believe a restaurant should have – great atmosphere, friendly service, fantastic food presentation. It was noisy, busy, there was no service to speak of, not interaction with the staff, you were pointed at your table, orders taken, food plonked down in front of you and then you were hurried out the door as soon as you were finished, yet the line was out the door. Why? Was it simply that the customers were looking for a quick and easy meal?

(Check out the video – iChef Video )

Secondly, only a few weeks ago I was away for the weekend and as we were walking the ‘strip’ of cafes to choose somewhere for breakfast it dawned on me that out of the six cafes on the small beach front each and every one of them served the same food. Pancakes, eggs benedict, big breakfast, smash avocado, muesli and yoghurt, omlettes and zucchini and corn fritters with the twists being what you could add has browns, bacon, mushrooms etc., plus fresh juices with creative name and coffee. There was nothing unique about each of them and when I asked at the hotel for a recommendation the distinguishing point was what coffee brand was served.

It made me think about the importance of understanding your audience and the fact that, in this case, location was everything! You have a small strip of beach front isolated from the next beach by a 5-minute drive and therefore you have a totally captive audience. It really wasn’t about repeat custom and competing; it was simply about bums on seats. Sure, there were a small number of locals in each one but it appeared to be populated purely by tourist, weekenders. This observation was also duplicated in the 3 fish and chip shops, 6 massage places and the 3 pubs/surf clubs in the same location all offering the same things.

Moral of the story…understand your market. Who is that you are targeting? Are they looking for that stand out amazing menu item and customer service or are they simply there to take in the amazing scenery?


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