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The top ten trends in restaurant hospitality for 2024

Written by Jack Lander, Founder and Director of Pizzarova

In the fast-paced world of restaurant hospitality, the phrase, “the customer is always right” couldn’t ring truer. Indeed, modern hospitality is about so much more than just serving up delicious food. It’s equally about embracing the latest trends, remaining agile and catering to the evolving tastes of discerning diners – be it through flavours, venue type or ethical values.

That said, here’s what customers will be asking us to cook up in 2024:

1. Local green produce

With the future of our planet at stake, it’s no surprise that 53% of customers want restaurants to make sustainable choices, according to YouGov.

Opting for more local ingredient supply is one of the most effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint, as food won’t have as far to travel before it reaches your restaurant, cutting down fuel for transportation and refrigerative use.

Choosing suppliers that think carefully about their packaging to reduce unnecessary waste is equally as important, not just for the planet but also in terms of both custom and reputation. According to Datassential, for example, 57% of diners now pick their dining experience based on the sustainable practices implemented by restaurants.

Sourcing local ultimately means stocking up on less and reducing waste – a great way to add ‘authenticity’ and artisanal charm to your existing offers as you secure a win-win for both the planet and your purse.

2. Integrated technology

No industry futures article would be complete without mentioning AI. Although still optional, chatbots and digital assistants go a long way towards allowing customers to make basic out-of-hours queries and bookings. It’s something that 33% are already demanding, according to AI specialists, Master of Code. Much like the flexible, secure payment options that have now become a hospitality must, these tools are not here to replace human interactions but to streamline services and the customer experience wherever they can.

3. Culinary innovation

With the cost-of-living crisis still in full swing, many customers are reducing the number of times they eat out. As such, restaurants must offer something truly spectacular if they are to secure new custom.

Creating menus that combine firm favourites with new flavour profiles is a great way of mixing things up and keeping up with the latest trends. In doing so, however, restaurants must take care to only order what they need, remembering that certain dishes will be transitory and could result in unused stock. Once again, sourcing local can help with inventory planning – and establishing strong working relationships with local producers often allows for greater agility in ingredient ordering, as well.

4. Adaptable menus
The more you can adapt your menus to different dietary requirements, be it gluten-free, halal or low in lactose, the better. Plant-based diets in particular are growing in popularity, with 2.5 million vegans living in the UK alone according to comparison site, Finder. Catering to this demographic is therefore crucial, be it through tailor-made dishes or menu options you can adapt.

Restaurants that allow for greater flexibility, such as the option to replace regular with vegan cheese, tend to perform better when it comes to customer experience. Once again, partnering with reliable local suppliers to obtain the latest trending goods can help with this, as can teaching catering teams to engage in new techniques and ideas.

5. Personalised experiences
If high-end hotels are already doing it, it’s about time that restaurants got on board with the hyper-personalisation trend, too. Data-driven insights are now being used to tailor guests’ dining experiences, be it by sending a vegan waiter to attend to diners who you know are vegan or leaving carefully placed wine menus on the tables of customers you know enjoy wine, without risking unnecessary offence to the alcohol free.

6. Community engagement
Social responsibility is growing in importance. As such, any community engagement you get involved in will work wonders for your hospitality business, be it participating in community events, serving food at pop-up venues or sourcing all produce from local farmers. Whatever it is, make sure you’re talking about it on your website and social media.

7. Restaurant culture
Customers nowadays want a memorable dining experience – something we can serve to them by creating a warm and welcoming environment. Knowing your identity as a brand and truly marketing it can work worders, particularly if you are able to demonstrate your commitment to this identity through stable values maintained throughout expansion and growth. Perhaps, for instance, you’re committed to supporting local drinks companies by prioritising their supply. This is something your customers should know.

8. Happy employees
People want to be served by smiling faces. Nevertheless, working in the hospitality industry can be demanding. By providing sufficient training, rewards and benefits to your hospitality team, however, you can keep guests happy, ensuring the people they engage with remain positive and reassuring customers that you do your best by your staff in stating true to your values.

According to the ONS, hospitality staff shortages are now at an all-time high, with 170,000 hospitality vacancies remaining unfilled nationwide. As such, good employee benefits are a must from all sides.

9. Good health
The wellness trend is back with a vengeance, with many consumers now regarding food as medicine rather than just a culinary delight. Menus must therefore reflect this, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as gluten-free, lactose-free and organic options.

By sourcing fruit and veg from several different local farmers, you can guarantee that sought-after freshness without delay, meanwhile vouching for the virtues of the food and drinks you serve by establishing a transparent chain of supply. Not only must you know your own values inside out but also those of the suppliers you engage with, ensuring their products meet both consumers’ dietary requirements and ethical standards.

10. Hybrid work/leisure spaces
Finally, as more remote workers combine business with travel – with 61% of 18- to 34-year-olds interested in workcations according to YouGov – hospitality establishments that can serve up hybrid work/leisure spaces will be onto a win in 2024.

Things like flexible seating, accessible plug sockets, high-speed internet and adjustable lighting all help to capture this emerging demographic, as do creating individual sound booths away from loud music to allow people to take private calls and meetings. You could even consider hosting community networking events to increase traffic.

Restaurant resilience

Stiff competition and the volatile economy are already enough to contend with without letting poor staff management, outdated technologies and unethical or invisible supply-chains further impede your chances of success. By transitioning towards a more holistic mindset, training staff, spicing up menus and moving away from the international towards a more stable, localised supply, restaurants can position themselves as leaders of innovation – championing not only more variety in fresh flavours but also advocating for green living and farmers’ rights. Indeed, securing transparency in hospitality supply chains is an imperative, for all those looking to thrive.

 

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