Positive responses relating to menu choices, atmosphere and service levels confirm that the role of pubs remains as strong as ever in the UK market, according to TMDC director Steven Pike, particularly at a community level where convenience and value for money are much sought after.
Nearly two thirds of respondents cited poor food quality as the number one reason for choosing not to eat in pubs. This ranked significantly higher than other turn offs such as clientele, poor service and menu choice, Pike explained.
Yet, despite these issues with quality, the most popular reason (at 49%) for choosing to eat in a pub rather than a restaurant was the menu itself. Classic meals such as fish and chips, bangers or pie with mash, homemade lasagne and Sunday Roasts remain firm favourites with over 90% of the group. Even though, as a nation, weve become more discerning about food, its important to understand that customers still want a pub to be a pub and they are seeking out a certain experience every time they visit, he added.
With greater focus put on food quality be that better product sourcing, reducing or revising menus and briefing staff more thoroughly to ensure they can communicate menu items effectively Pike believes pubs have the opportunity to step up their game and in turn impress their clientele.
Unsurprisingly the advent of the gastro-pub was considered a good thing by 80% of those surveyed.
Other areas that Pike believes pubs should address in order to improve profitability include menu design; such as ensuring there are dishes on both starter and dessert menus which can be shared, as well extending the variety of non-alcoholic beverages available.
56% of people said they would normally only order a single course in a pub, however, the same group, when asked if they would be more likely to order an extra course if shared platters or shared desserts were available on the menu, responded positively, Pike explains suggesting that actively marketing shared options can be a useful way to increase spend per head.
Meanwhile with beverages, more than half of the respondents felt that although there was generally adequate choice when it came to beer, wine and sprits, the range of hot drinks on offer in pubs was often insufficient.
Make me an offer:
Previous research conducted by The Mystery Dining Company suggested that fewer than 3 in 10 individuals chose where to eat based on a specific meal offer, however there are ways for pub operators to encourage customers to eat more regularly in pubs. In this survey a 72% majority indicated that a complimentary glass of wine with their meal would encourage them to eat out in a pub more regularly.
Rewarding loyalty and making customers feel genuinely welcome can have a significant impact on an individuals experience. Other small gestures such as free bar snacks or an aperitif on arrival rather than special offers or discount coupons are also well received by customers. Pike adds.
The Mystery Dining Company currently works with independent and chain pubs, restaurants and hotels across the UK advising on how to improve the customer experience while reducing overheads and improving effectiveness. For more information visit www.mysterydining.com
Of the 433 individuals surveyed, 90% visit pubs at least once a month (58% visit at least once a fortnight) and 77% eat in pubs at least once or twice a month.
29% generally visit at lunch time, 21% favour evening meals and while 51% alternate between the two.
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