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Business leaders networking at the Peach 20/20 Conference  

09 Jul 2024

How can venues build and maintain customer loyalty?

In a cash-strapped market, brand loyalty can be precarious and operators can’t afford to rest on past successes. Recent research from Zonal, CGA by NIQ and UK Hospitality highlights that the key to building a loyal customer base is the delivery of the fundamentals of hospitality – not just once, but every time.

Despite the cost-of-living crisis, eating and drinking out is as important to Britons as ever. Zonal’s latest GO Technology research report in partnership with CGA by NIQ and UKHospitality, revealed that 65% of consumers say eating and drinking out remains a priority for their social life.

However, brand loyalty is precarious and operators can’t afford to rest on their laurels. The GO Technology report highlights that the key to building a loyal customer base is consistent delivery of the fundamentals of hospitality – like high-quality, good-value food and drink, excellent customer service and an overall seamless experience. Read on for an overview of the key findings from the report. 

Why do customers spend time in hospitality?

The most popular reason that people choose to go out in hospitality is to socialise with friends and family (50%), followed by celebrating a special occasion (44%). We also know that people view eating and drinking out as a treat – with 41% of people saying they visit hospitality for this reason.

Operators that make life easy for customers to create these moments, such as adopting online booking systems or allowing customers to make tailored requests based on the occasion, will increase the likelihood of customers returning.

What role does hospitality play within communities?

Two in three (64%) consumers say the hospitality sector plays an important role in their local community. Despite the pressures that the cost-of-living crisis has presented, 60% say they still want to support local businesses within their communities.

Operators can tap into this affection for local businesses by organising events or raising money for the community. This can help venues to demonstrate their value beyond just being a place to go for food or drink. From pub quiz nights to donating a percentage of sales to a local charity can help build a stronger and more loyal network and customer base, as well as build a positive reputation for the business in the area.

How can businesses build loyalty?

Loyalty is the foundation of growth and success in hospitality. It generates the repeat visits that venues need to survive and thrive, and the brand advocacy needed to engage new guests. And latest GO Technology research report shows that consistently delivering on the fundamentals of hospitality is key to generating this. Top of the priority list for guests are:

  • Quality of food (53%)
  • Good customer service (50%)
  • Value for money (48%)

However, it’s not enough to occasionally deliver on these basic elements of hospitality – delivering them on a consistent basis is crucial. This is even more important at a time when spending is tight, as people want to be confident they will get what they pay for.

Having friendly and knowledgeable staff is a significant factor in terms of loyalty for a third of consumers (30%), our insight showed. We know that people make hospitality great, so ensuring staff are delivering on customer expectation and great service goes a long way.

Achieving all this is no easy feat, however. Having processes and technology in place can play a helping hand. Operators that consider investing in solutions which help increase efficiencies and alleviate staff pressures, will set themselves up to succeed in delivering the exceptional service customers expect, encouraging them to return time and time again.

How can technology help?

Technology should never interfere or take away from the overall experience but, if used correctly, it can work behind the scenes and do the heavy lifting. This provides operators and staff with the time and headspace to focus on delivering great service to customers.

For example, having your EPoS linked to your stock and management systems means getting real-time updates on stock availability, which removes the risk of customers making orders, only to find out a few minutes later that the item is out of stock – one of the things we know customers find particularly irksome. Additionally, linking mobile ordering and payment devices to the main tills removes the need for staff to re-key any orders which saves time and minimises errors. This means customers spend less time waiting to be served, or in queues at the bar.

Using technology can also provide operators with a wealth of insight about customer spending behaviours and habits. Having this data, and in real-time, means that operators can get a detailed overview of how well the business is performing, even down to individual menu items. Having this information to hand is really useful when it comes to helping to drive repeat visits. With this data, operators can use the insight gathered to create bespoke deals, promotions, offers and incentives based on customer preferences. This will encourage people to re-visit and reward them for their custom, helping build their loyalty.

Download the full GO Technology: The value of hospitality report here.

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