5 Senses: The Key to Improving Guest Experience in Your Restaurant

Restaurants have become a very competitive market. Now more than ever it’s essential to keep the guests satisfied and provide them with the best experience. In this article, I’m going to explore certain factors that influence customers to choose a restaurant, and the things that should take the forefront as far as improving guest experience is concerned.

 In the recent years, the food industry has emerged as one of the most profitable and popular business sectors. It is this very reason that makes it so competitive to own a restaurant in today’s world. Offering good food isn’t enough to attract customers. Instead, a wholesome experience needs to be provided in order to impress the guests and keep them coming back.

You may think that smiling at  guests and being polite with them is enough to make a good impression. And I would agree, too. But, although staff etiquette is the first thing guests notice about your establishment, there are many other factors that influence them to choose your restaurant over the million others out there.

Hence, it’s crucial to focus on the five senses to promote your brand, along with the new sixth sense, which is ‘social media’. Joe Haubenhofer, also known as Sir Idea Man, from The Plaid Penguin, says, “Atmosphere is mission critical. When done properly, guests’ five senses should be stimulated by a multi-layered harmonic chord, which should lead to an orchestrated 360-degree experience for the guest.”

The 5 Senses 

  1. Taste: It’s obvious that the kind of food offered by a restaurant is the main element that attracts the customers to visit the place. Everything from the quality to the variety of items available   should be taken into account. If you’re sticking to a particular cuisine, make sure they’re authentic. If you’re opting for multiple cuisines, see to it that the flavours are distinct as well as delicious for every category.
  2. Sight: Today, where so much depends on appearance and presentation, the ambience of a restaurant is almost as important as the culinary experience. First impressions are what customers use to determine whether they want to return to a place or not. It’s imperative that you present them with the best of your services. Lighting plays a huge role in setting the tone of a restaurant. While a dimly-lit restaurant is often irksome to many, overly bright lights can be distracting, too. Select the décor, including the colours and the graphics in such a way that it strikes the perfect balance and conveys the theme of your establishment. Entryways should be designed in a guest-friendly manner, and staff uniforms should be delineated by job duties. While all this may seem inconsequential to the larger purpose of offering good food to customers, these mediums of effective visual messaging and contribute towards guest satisfaction.
  3. Sound: The kind of music you choose to play in your restaurant can boost the sales of your organisation. Danny Turner, global senior vice president of Creative Programming at Mood Media, says, “Music reflects your brand personality and establishes energy.” You can opt for different kinds of music throughout the week, changing it according to seasons, festivities, and holidays. Just make sure the volume isn’t terribly high. It should not intrude on people’s conversations; instead, it should provide a good backdrop for them, while letting guests enjoy the playlist you’ve selected for them. Also, it’s always a plus if the restaurant is located in a neighbourhood that isn’t surrounded by loud noises.
  4. Smell: The aroma of delicious food is irresistible and supremely influential. Make sure you optimize your space in a way that allows these scents to pass through to reach the customers, while simultaneously eliminating foul smells such as those emanating from nearby dumpsters. Haubenhofer advices to consider open kitchens.
  5. Touch: Restaurants often forget or ignore this one aspect, but it is what helps customers build a personal attachment to a brand. Many diners rank the cleanliness of a restaurant as important as the taste and quality of food. “Don’t skimp out on the menu paper, toilet paper in the loo, or the feel of linens on the table.” suggests Haubenhofer.
  6. Social Media: With technology taking over the world, it’s absolutely essential to create your digital imprint to make your restaurant stand out. Maintaining social media accounts on platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, along with a defined presence on apps like Zomato, increases the reach of your network and also makes it easier to discover and explore.

 Improve Guest Experience in Your Restaurant

Happy customers mean regular customers, and when these customers have a good experience, that automatically promotes your brand. Here are some ways to ensure top quality guest experience in your restaurant:

  • Once the guests form an image of your restaurant, make sure you not only maintain your standards but also strive to exceed their expectations. Figure out the kind of service the guests expect, depending on whether it’s a casual dinner or something more elite, and deliver them with the related expectations.
  • Treat the new guests like regulars. See to it that they’re received with warmth and hospitality, with the manager attending to every table to ask if their experience was enjoyable. Try to minimize their waiting time, especially for those who’ve made prior reservations.
  • Invite your guests to join your loyalty program. Small gestures such as offering free appetizers, giving them a discount coupon for their next meal, and personalizing these offers can go a long way is establishing good customer relations.
  • Make the payment process quick and simple. Don’t make them wait too long to receive the check and always give them the option to split the bill or items accordingly. Efficient procedures may often ensure higher tips for the servers.
  • Lastly, collect customer feedback to know what improvement should be brought into effect. Either include a link for review at the bottom of the receipt, or hand out short guest surveys along with the bill. These feedbacks are extremely valuable to aid in the growth of a restaurant.

Customers are swarmed with a plethora of restaurant options these days. Restaurants are facing stiff competition, and when you factor in the pressure of social media, you realize that they have to up their game in order to stand out in the crowd. So, don’t just concentrate on the extensiveness of your menu, but also invest in things like décor, proper staff training and marketing to charm your guests and build a praiseworthy empire.

Ram Gupta, the author is a hotel management graduate from India and Germany; He is a certified Hotel Administrator from U.S. and MIH from U.K. He has over 40 years of sound experience in the Hospitality, real estate industry in India, Dubai, U.K, Europe and Japan and is well versed with all areas of business including acquisitions, mergers, joint ventures, diversification, strategic planning, development and operations. He has been associated with over two dozen luxury and boutique hotel projects and has launched two hotel chains in India. He is currently an independent hotel consultant and could be contacted at ramgupta@bcgglobal.com. Website: www.bcgglobal.com

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