It’s that time of year again, and we’re excited to share our insights on the biggest bar and restaurant trends for 2018.
Bar and Restaurant Trends for 2018
- Review Sites Other Than Yelp
- Using More Data to Make Decisions
- Digital Menus for Everything
- Sustainable Bar Movement
- High End Non-Alcoholic Drinks
Review Sites Other Than Yelp
Although Facebook and Google Reviews have been around for quite a while, we saw some updates to both in 2017 that signalled their continuing importance to both companies and to local business owners. Facebook released a major update to their Events app and rebranded it as Facebook Local, a new way to explore all things local on Facebook. This includes prominent display of Facebook Reviews, making these more important than ever.
Google also made some changes to how business reviews show up in local searches, dropping the minimum number of reviews required to have a star rating show in local search down from 5 to only 2. This gives businesses an even greater incentive to ensure that their business is generating positive reviews on Google.
The continued focus on reviews from Facebook and Google mean that local business owners need to focus on these review sites in addition to Yelp in order to stay relevant and get found online.
Using More Data to Make Decisions
The trend of using data in decision making is one that has been growing for quite some time, and it will only continue in 2018. One key element of this is personalization, the more you know about your customers the more you can personalize offers and menu suggestions just for them. The fast casual restaurant chain Cava is one great example of this, using data to optimize the ordering process, their kitchen operations, and to create a new personalized loyalty program.
While your bar or restaurant may not be in a position to install sensors throughout the premises, there are some simple ways to ensure that you’re collecting the best data possible to make decisions. Something as easy as configuring your POS correctly can help immensely in generating actionable sales data to help you understand what sells the best at what time of year so that you can make the best purchasing decisions possible.
Digital Menus for Everything
Digital TV menus have been a growing trend over the past few years, especially for beverage menus, and we expect this trend to continue to accelerate into 2018 and beyond. This trend has extended to food menus as well, with business owners realizing that digital menus open up tons of opportunity to market specials and showcase social media accounts as well. We’ve seen this trend continue both in the bar and restaurant owners that we talk to, as well as within our own product which can now power any kind of menu from food and beverage to merchandise, as well as display promotions and social media content.
Sustainable Bar Movement
Every level of staff from bartender to owners all have a reason to pay attention to the sustainable bar movement and how it can help with business in 2018. Consumers care more and more about where their food and beverages come from, and want to know that they aren’t contributing to negative trends environmentally. This is particularly clear in the world of cocktails, with Tales of the Cocktail holding their first sustainability summit in 2017. Another way to be more sustainable is to focus on carrying local products, which generally have a lower carbon footprint and are more sustainable than products that are not local.
Business owners should be aware of the waste created by their business and should be actively working to reduce it, both because consumers care and because it can help save money.
With more and more options for consumers to eat and drink at home, it is becoming increasingly important for bars and restaurants to provide off-premise options for their customers to enjoy their experience from the comfort of their own home. With the rise of delivery services like Postmates, Uber Eats, and Amazon Prime Now, it’s more important than ever to ensure that your business offers some sort of off-premise option. There is also growing competition from grocery stores, underscored by Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods in 2017.
There are many things that your business can do to cater to the off-premise crowd. For those that serve food, it’s a great idea to have a specific order pickup area in your restaurant to streamline to-go orders, or even to consider adding a drive through option. Putting thought into having travel-friendly food options or even meals that can be heated at home (like pre-assembled pizzas) can be a great way to encourage more off-premise orders. For bars and breweries, the off-premise movement can be addressed by implementing a growler / crowler program.
High End Non-Alcoholic Drinks
Another trend for 2018 is the increase in high end non-alcoholic drinks. These include house-made sodas and fresh juices, as well as premium coffee on nitro taps. This can help to drive up check averages for those guests who want to stay healthier and may only want 1-2 drinks and for those who don’t drink at all. It’s also very common for people to give up drinking for short periods during the year, and having great high end non-alcoholic drinks are a great way to keep customers coming in to your business even if they’re not drinking at the moment.
These trends will continue to shine heading into the new year. From delivery and review services to creating a sustainable local- business-friendly establishment, smart bar and restaurant owners are taking notice and adjusting their businesses accordingly. We’re interested in your thought on these trends and any that didn’t make our list! Join the conversation on our Facebook Page