kids' menus

Making the case for family engagement in restaurants

By Jasmine Kafka

The family segment comprises roughly 50 per cent of restaurant revenues in casual dining, with an average cheque 83 per cent higher than couples or seniors (based on The NPD Group CREST Study, 2010). Leading industry consultants forecast that family dining visits will increase this year, as the economy improves and restaurants continue to take steps toward creating more kid-friendly environments, offerings, and menus.

Children often have the majority vote in where a family dines, making the case for catering to families even stronger. So how do restaurants compete for family market share? Thankfully, there are solid tactics operators can own to increase their family business.

According to the NPD study, Parties with Kids: Motivating More Visits, 2014, 84 per cent of parents state they are more likely to visit a restaurant if it’s kid-friendly. One main area that restaurants can focus on in order to be more family friendly is entertainment. Entertainment is anything that occupies a child’s attention while dining such as activity sheets, colouring, a play area, or television. The restaurant’s environment should also be appealing for children by featuring colourful, bright, and clean spaces that are casual enough in nature to allow for free interaction between kids.

Service is another key influencer that can increase family visitation. “Service can be the standout difference between you and your competition,” states McDonald’s former VP of Marketing and notorious advertising guru Roy Bergold.”

Staff who are welcoming towards families, and provide quick and attentive service demonstrate that you value their business. Simple tactics such as kneeling down to the child’s eye level or engaging the child in small talk can really help build a relationship and loyalty with your restaurant. While some of these kid-friendly deeds may seem like no-brainers, the combination of activities executed as operational standards can drive guest counts with this valuable customer set.

About the Author

Jasmine Kafka is Manager of Marketing Communications and Account Services at Kidzsmart, a kids and family marketing firm based in Vancouver, BC. Their focus is on increasing family market ROI for their clients by developing revenue driving, and loyalty inducing kids and family experiences. Through the use of children’s illustrations, storytelling, character development and fun participation games, Kidzsmart develops brand relationships that last.

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