Are you giving your guests what they want?

From the menu to the experience, guests have an expectation when they visit your restaurant. Are you delivering on that expectation? Do you know what your guests want from your restaurant? Datassential’s mid-year trend report gives us a look at what diners value most when they go out to eat these days, as we proceed into the late part of 2023.

Menu trends

As far as trendy flavours go, donuts are having their moment on menus. Recent studies show that 77 per cent of people ate their last dessert at home, so donuts might just be the grab-and-go item your guests are looking for that can help you up those cheque totals at the same time.

As a favourite dish, barbecue chicken wings have seen a 373 per cent growth in the last 12 months, likely because of the arrival of cool new flavours like Korean barbecue and Carolina Gold. And as ingredients go, the seasonally featured English peas have seen a 52 per cent increase in popularity, offering a fresh twist on menus in early spring.

In the beverage realm, bergamot is growing as a popular drink ingredient, seeing a 60 per cent growth over last year. Espresso martinis are making a comeback, too, with a 59 per cent year-over-year growth on menus for that nostalgic feel customers are craving.

Mocktails are up 62 per cent, as many non-alcoholic bars are making their way onto the scene. Low-alcohol beverages have jumped 146 per cent in popularity over the last year, from beer to wine to cocktails, so this is an avenue restaurants should be exploring on their menus.

Customer experience

Diners seem to believe that customer experience is waning, with 33 per cent believing that service is declining. With the increased costs, restaurants need to focus on exceptional service to make a night out worth the time and money it is costing guests. The value proposition needs to make sense to encourage guests to keep visiting and supporting restaurant businesses. While customers understand that the industry is still battling a persistent labour shortage, they are still expecting real value for their money.

Tipping culture is also becoming a turnoff for customers, with 54 per cent saying that it has gotten out of control.  The survey indicated that customers are looking for certain elements that make their experience pleasant, with friendliness and positive attitude (76 per cent), accurately taking orders (73 per cent), and safe food handling (66 per cent) topping the list. Customers just want a friendly, accurate ordering experience and restaurants need to strive to achieve that in today’s competitive market.

Craveable terms

Which terms are most crave-able for customers? 30 per cent of customers are drawn to “homemade,” 15 per cent to “all-you-can-eat,” and 13 per cent to “grilled.” These are the words that diners are looking for when they are placing their orders, so menus that include these terms will get more attention and find more people ordering these dishes.

Knowing the trends means that you can tailor you menu and your guest experience to suit what your guests are looking for, to get more visits and improve your margins.