Almost every week I find myself discussing the impact of social networking on hospitality with my customers. There is increasing competition for the hospitality dollar, but this competition is not just limited to other venues. It is competing with people choosing to stay indoors with the conveniences of social networking at their fingertips.

The social networking impact on hospitality

Weeknights used to be busier in pubs and bars. Nowadays people prefer to stay indoors, order a meal from the local pizza bar, a beer from the local liquor retailer while they binge on their favourite on-demand TV show. All from the comfort of their couch!

Most venue owners and managers would agree that social networking changed their businesses substantially over the last few years.

Wages remained stagnant but food and drink prices generally increased. It is now more convenient, and cheaper (although not quite as fun!) to have something to eat and drink, while bingeing on your latest TV series.

My customers in hospitality are feeling it.

Music festivals are also taking their toll on bars and pubs. There are so many to choose from now and punters can easily drop hundreds of dollars for just one festival. There is only a finite amount of entertainment dollars in a person’s budget, and festivals take a sizeable chunk, especially over the warmer months. Add to this that the current generation is more health aware, diet aware and are not drinking as much alcohol as their predecessors, and this adds to the impact of social networking in hospitality.

The couch magnet Apps

I call them the couch magnet apps. Because from the comfort of our couch we can do all this:

  • Facebook/Snapchat – get social and connect with all our friends.
  • Netflix – what should we watch for our entertainment tonight?
  • Tinder – single? Find a date!
  • First Choice/Dan Murphys – get your cheap alcohol delivered to your door.
  • Uber Eats – get your food delivered to your door!

Sit at home and do it all!

I remember reading an article back in 2013 where the well-known nightclub owner of Honkyonks, Michael Delaney saw the writing on the wall. He said that people preferred to stay home with friends instead of heading out to meet someone for a drink on a weeknight.

Interestingly though, we also have an apparent loneliness epidemic in Australia, where one in four people are feeling lonely during the week, according to this survey. You can use this growing issue in Australia to your advantage and start discussing the value of getting out and about and meeting new people, maybe even have a way of encouraging this in your venue with Meet Up groups.

So what’s the solution to this social networking influence making people stay home more?

Most of my customers are getting more nimble and staying ahead of the trends by making the small “one percent” changes, or regular tweaks to the business. I think this is the key to continuing profitability in hospitality.

The small “one percent” tweaks

They address everything in their venue on a regular basis, making small but regular changes. For example, we often have conversations around these questions;

  • What days do I open? Do I change this over winter?
  • What hours do I open? Do I stay open longer during summer?
  • Do I offer breakfast, lunch and dinner? Or just lunch and dinner?
  • What is in season right now and how can I improve my menu?
  • Do I offer more gluten free, all gluten free, more vegan options?
  • What areas of the venue do I keep open during winter or summer? Do I shut off the beer garden or another outdoor area?
  • What activities or services do I change through the seasons? For example, some venues stop their DJ’s in the winter to reduce operation costs.

We are not selling large capital equipment, we are selling lots of small items – food and drink, so every small tweak for improvement will help the bottom line of your business.

Loyalty schemes

If you don’t have a loyalty scheme then it’s important to start developing one for your venue. A loyalty scheme will start building your email database, allowing you to specifically target your customers with genuine offers and look after them with their specific preferences in mind, making them feel more valued.

You can use either a discount or a point accumulation approach, and these days in most circumstances we encourage people to take a point approach – accumulate points, build loyalty and cash the points in for drinks or food. We will help you build your loyalty program into your H&L POS, and make sure you can easily harvest your consumers’ behaviour and spending patterns to use for marketing purposes.

Social media marketing

Social media marketing in hospitality is a crucial aspect of continuing to grow your venue. Call your account manager to help you find ways to improve your online social media presence. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter – they are all ways to grow your business, and if you don’t have a social media strategy, then it is important to develop one – we can help you start planning for this.

H&L are across social trends in the industry – call your local account manager to discuss your business needs

When you have the reports you need available at your fingertips, it is much easier to make the right decisions and those “one percent tweaks” to improve the profitability of your business.

  • Workforce management – what do staff cost per shift and how does this match up with revenue? Plan ahead for rosters based on revenue predictions.
  • How effectively are you analysing your cost of goods, gross profit and sales figures at any point in time?
  • Are you maximising the use of online booking systems to save time?

You’re not alone trying to figure out ways to manage your business and also increase your revenue in an environment where there is now more competition for the hospitality dollar. Collectively we have decades of experience in hospitality to help venue managers get the information they need to grow their business. Call us today on 1800 778 340.