Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020, the hospitality industry has faced significant adversity. Three years later, the industry is still making a comeback from the long-term effects, and there is one thing most businesses can relate to – the challenge to find labor. This commonality across the industry cannonballed businesses toward automation solutions. In 2023, we can expect to see even more operators turn to tech to increase efficiency and decrease costs.
While not shocking, here are a couple of key statistics from the industry:
- Menu prices are increasing due to sharply higher food, labor, and fuel costs.
- 26% of operators have moderately struggled to hire staff.
- 43% of operators said they think economic conditions will worsen during the next six months.
- In inflation-adjusted terms, average monthly sales in restaurants declined $1 billion between the second and third quarters of 2022.
- Full-service restaurant menu prices rose 8.8% between September 2021 and September 2022.
- 2 in 3 restaurants are understaffed.
- Among restaurants that are currently understaffed, 62% of operators said their restaurant is more than 10% below necessary staffing levels. Twenty percent of these operators are more than 20% below necessary staffing levels.
Although labor remains a struggle, here are some positive findings:
- 45% of operators will place a focus on employee training in the next 12 months.
- Restaurants are managing an average of 7 service models.
- Eating and drinking places added a net 60,000 jobs in September on a seasonally-adjusted basis, according to preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- During the first 6 months of 2022, an average of 71% of operators reported higher same-store sales.
These findings show that while the industry still faces challenges surrounding staffing, supply chain issues, and food pricing, restaurants have to adapt to survive and we’re slowly getting back to pre-pandemic numbers.
Below, we’ll take a look at 11 of the latest trends expected to emerge in 2023, so you can draw customers through your doors and keep them engaged. As a smart operator, don’t fall behind this year. Read the following article to stay ahead of this year’s restaurant marketing trends.
2023 Restaurant Trends
Webinar | Hospitality Industry Trends to Expect in 2023
Register to view a recording of our recent webinar, where we spoke with industry leaders, experts, and operators from Branded Strategic, an investment & advisory company founded by hospitality operators; GoTab, a restaurant commerce platform used by large- and mid-sized venues; and Neo Pizza, a pizzeria & self-pour bar concept in Maryland. Each speaker shared insight into new trends they’ve experienced first-hand. You will learn about various topics, including how to offer quality delivery food, create a more sustainable business model, provide non-alcoholic offerings to reach a more diverse market, and so much more!
Food-Related Trends to Expect in 2023
1. On-Premise Dining On The Rise
During the first two years of the pandemic, guests dealt with many restrictions and uncertainties surrounding on-premise dining. Many consumers learned how to order food online and became more accustomed to 3rd party delivery convenience. Without leaving the house to feel safer during times when the vaccine was not readily available, it was more common for people to either get food delivered directly to their homes or pick up their orders to go. With growing delivery costs, customers and operators are resorting to pick-up orders. Delivery costs can be almost as much as the meal itself, and adjusting to a middle-ground option makes restaurant operations easier. As the situation has changed, and with vaccines more accessible, on-premise dining is back and growing steadily.
Increase in Diners Eating Restaurant Food
Diners Accepting & Paying Higher Menu Prices
- 58% of diners are eating restaurant food more this year than in 2021
- 68% of diners report they will pay and accept higher menu prices
Guests expect optionality of on- and off-premise dining based on the experiences they want. Some customers look for an efficient experience where they can grab and go, but now there is a boom in “eatertainment.” Locations implementing fun activities like mini-putt, ping pong, ax-throwing, pickleball, arcade, and board games make for a great dining experience where customers can enjoy entertainment and excellent food.
The intersection between food and entertainment is a huge opportunity for operators to attract customers. Locations like Dave & Buster’s, where customers can enjoy good quality food and beverage while playing arcade games, are a great example of the impact eatertainment can have on the customer’s dining experience. Check out how a PourMyBeer self-pour system has integrated into this environment!
2. Menu Optimization
Another significant change in the food area is the simplification of menus and menu adjustments to fit the “pick up” or “delivery” orders. Preparation and selection of dishes available for delivery have played a large role in menu creation and structure over the past 2 years, and operators have taken this a step further by either having one simple, optimized menu or two separate menus – one for on-premise and one for off-premise dining.
3. Bringing Back Nostalgia
In Whole Foods Market’s report of the Top 10 Food Trends for 2023, research shows that consumers have become more nostalgic and crave their favorite meals from childhood. Popular foods like mac and cheese, pizza bites, cereals, and more, are being reimagined with a healthy twist while still maintaining great flavors and reminding consumers of their past treats. Restaurants and bakeries have started to adopt this trend by creating cakes, milkshakes, and cocktails with familiar childhood flavors. Combining the nostalgia and novelty of retro meals is a great throwback for consumers and restaurant operators.
How To Embrace Technology in 2023
4. Delivery turns to automated solutions
With delivery orders still in high demand, getting an order to the customer has increased reliance on drivers, and due to the current labor shortage, it has proven to be a challenging task. To meet the increased demand, restaurant owners must reevaluate for future growth, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness.
With this comes the opportunity for automation and technology to step in. Some major cities are already testing and even using robots for delivery, such as Los Angeles, Denver, and Austin. Insert Coin, a PourMyBeer family member in Washington, implemented a robot server named RALF to increase efficiency and create a unique dining experience. While already the norm in parts of Asia and India, it is expected that by the end of 2023, these robot delivery services will begin to emerge first in bigger cities and college towns, then start making their way all over the U.S.
Technology now forces owners to think differently about how their restaurants operate by balancing high-quality food and efficiency. The innovation of automation and technology will be a huge step in all dining experiences in the future, especially to meet the needs of different demographics. Gen Z loves the efficiency of automated food pick-up and delivery. As a smart operator, you can take advantage of this to increase sales. Restaurants have become “ground zero” for implementing technology to increase efficiency from ordering to POS systems and kitchen display systems.
5. Virtual Reality
As restaurants shift to automation and think outside the box to create more virtual experiences, many are looking into virtual reality. In fact, big-name brands like Wendy’s have chosen to embrace the virtual world as a way to provide better experiences to customers. They have coined their virtual world the “Wendyverse” as a play on the Metaverse. Now, customers can play games with different menu items online, ultimately leading to more digital sales.
There are several ways restaurants can implement virtual reality to increase automation efforts. Many create virtual experiences that allow guests to tour their restaurants, see the back-of-house, and more! Some even use VR to show restaurant guests the menu items and how they’re made.
So, get creative with it! If you can offer a unique experience that allows guests to interact with your brand virtually, you’ll increase foot traffic to your doors and your site.
6. Text Message Marketing
As establishments in the industry shift towards automation, many are adding text message marketing to their operations. It proves to be the fastest and easiest way to communicate with customers, which is crucial to keep your customers up to date on all your offerings.
Adding text messages as an opt-in for guests will allow you to send out texts on upcoming events, promotions, and reminders on their upcoming reservations. Plus, it helps your brand stay in the minds of customers!
If you choose to add text message marketing to your operations, you must follow the rules put in place by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act to protect customers from receiving spam.
7. Put Self-Serve to Use
With the industry trying to recover, most, if not all, businesses have had to rethink their operations. Many are turning to self-serve kiosks as the answer. McDonald’s and several other big-name fast-food brands have added self-serve ordering kiosks to their operations to accelerate their self-serve initiatives. Some bars and restaurants are implementing phones as personal kiosks where you can order, pay, and pick up seamlessly.
In 2019, the majority of restaurant chains dedicated 25% of in-store labor to taking orders at the counter. Serving a drink can take up to three people: the server, the bartender, and the customer. Streamlining this into the customer serving themselves eliminates the need for other people and allows servers and bartenders to focus on other areas that cannot be automated. Implementing new and innovative ways for customers to order can significantly reduce the cost of staffing and provide solutions for many suffering from the labor shortage.
BRING A SELF-SERVE BEVERAGE WALL INTO PLAY!
Self-serve beverage walls are the perfect solution for overcoming the labor shortage. Self-pour technology allows operators to reduce the number of staff needed to operate while increasing the number of beverages sold, which saves operators time, money, and headaches.
To learn how self-pour beverage technology can help you boost efficiency and increase profitability without needing extra staff, download our case study below!
Self-serve walls provide great benefits for guests too! Customers can approach the beverage wall whenever it suits them and pour as much or as little as they’d like! Besides saving your guests’ time by not waiting in lines, self-pour systems also decrease product waste from around 25% to as little as 3% and typically increase your beverage sales by 45% or more!
The more your customers drink, the higher your profit from beverages! Having a self-serve wall can help you stand out in today’s highly competitive market. A self-pour system does particularly well if you offer a variety of wines, cocktails, or craft beers.
Beer enthusiasts love having the choice to sample and taste new craft beers before committing to an entire pint or glass! With a self-serve beer wall, customers can pour just a few ounces of an interesting beer, then pour themselves a whole pint or glass of their favorite!
A self-serve system is a unique experience that your patrons will love to share, helping you get more exposure in front of a broader market! We also have a great article for operators looking to sell more drinks.
We have thrown a lot of information your way already! If you have any questions or want to know how we can help you increase your beverage sales, contact us below!
Sustainability Trends to Expect in 2023
8. Minimizing Plastic Usage
This trend has made big moves in European countries where the government is becoming stricter with the use of plastic straws or plastic cups. One of the reasons why Coca-Cola Europacific Partners approached Innovative Tap Solutions, dba PourMyBeer, was to create a more sustainable dispense of sodas in entertainment parks throughout western Europe and fast food restaurants.
The procurement and supply side of restaurants will be a great focus to reduce plastic usage but will require more work on the supplier side first to create these options. Even though options are slim in replacing plastic products, restaurants can go green by minimizing paper usage. Replacing thermal paper used for receipts and kitchen tickets with digitized QR code ordering, receipts, menus, and a kitchen display system significantly improves restaurants’ environmental impact.
9. Sustainable Food
Increased sustainability was one of the most notable trends of the past few years, and it’s undoubtedly going to be just as big, if not bigger, throughout 2023. For that reason, recycling is not enough to call your business green.
Sustainability focuses on reducing waste to a minimum for every aspect of your business. If you have a strong sustainability strategy in place, you may want to make it known to your customers, especially if your main customer base consists of millennials, as they are known to care for a green approach.
Following Starbucks and other big-name brands, the trend of eliminating unnecessary plastic, such as straws, will continue. If you want to keep up and position your establishment as “green” or an eco-friendly business, organize a staff meeting this week and have a brainstorming session on where your business can reduce waste (and potentially cost).
By properly setting up a kitchen display system, where guests place orders through their phones, you’ll reduce guest sendbacks and provide lower food waste. When operators have greater visibility of inventory, they can reduce up to 80% of food waste by using smart food inventory management systems such as Restaurant365, significantly increasing restaurants’ ROI while maintaining sustainable food practices. Operators should understand what is needed to create dishes at the best price and quality to order and buy better!
PourMyBeer Tip: This is where a self-pour beverage system could come into play. Rather than having hundreds of bottles and cans stored in your establishment, keep track of just a few kegs. The use of self-pour tech eliminates waste to as little as 3% and allows for a more sustainable method of beverage dispensing compared to a traditional staff-pour method.
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Beverage Trends to Expect in 2023
10. Increasing demand for non-alcoholic options
With a rise in health-conscious culture, Millenials and Gen Z consumers recognize the risks of over-indulging in alcohol and are now engaging in mindful drinking. Non- and low-ABV beverages have boomed in the market as they maintain the same flavors in many beers, wines, and cocktails without the health risks of alcohol, keeping consumers purchasing drinks according to their preferences. New drinking habits and trends like Dry January, where consumers go sober for 30 days at the start of the new year, have led to new solutions and beverages with minimal or no alcohol that will cater to a broader demographic in 2023.
11. The Rising Popularity of CBD-Based Drinks
CBD is the non-psychoactive component of cannabis used in various products like oils, lotions, and now, drinks! CBD drinks are being created because of their amazing health benefits, including mood, cognition, and physical health. Cocktails that once included alcohol can be recreated using CBD drink components.
We would love to hear from you! Let us know what other trends you think we should add to our list and which ones you plan to embrace this year. Feel free to share your ideas with us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and don’t forget to share this list of new trends to look out for in 2023 with your friends on social media!
We hope you have found these 11 tips helpful! Check out the post below to learn what key performance indicators you should measure to gauge your establishment’s success.