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Families represent an important market segment for restaurants and cafés. A study conducted by researchers at the Oxford School of Hospitality Management, Oxford Brookes University, and the University of Queensland sheds light on how to create exceptional experiences for parents, carers and children that keep them coming back!
Following the study they put together top tips for hospitality operators to keep parents, carers and children coming back, including: The experience starts before people enter the venue
Poor access puts people off venues. Lack of parking, awkward access between the car park and the venue and even narrow doorways may discourage parents from going near your venue, especially if they have to manoeuvre buggies.
Focusing on the children as active decision makers is valued by parents and children. Nobody likes being ignored or talked over, including children. Engaging children in conversations, explaining dishes and encouraging them to make choices can lead to happier little customers.
Talking with children, entertaining them and prioritising serving them before their parents can help to settle them. Keeping children content means their parents can relax. There is also less chance of them disturbing others.
Parents of very young children fit their restaurant visits around their children's need to eat. Helping parents by providing small additional services like offering warm water for baby food, for example, helps them to stay for longer whilst keeping their children happy.
Don't be scared of parents bringing the occasional snack or drink for small children. Adults may love your products, and they will buy them for themselves, but they may not feel that your products are suitable for their children. As long as parents are consuming, consider being a little lenient. Observing what food and drink they bring can also give you valuable tips about what you could be offering.
Open kitchens, drawings on the wall and other quirky design features are great for distracting children while they are waiting for food and drink. Visual treasure hunts keep young eyes and minds occupied.
More of the top tips can be read online at HospitalityNet. Dr Peter Lugosi also talks more about the study in a recent online news article by BigHospitality.
A copy of the published paper can be read online at ResearchGate.
"For parents, a visit to a restaurant is often work as much as it is leisure. We've found that little things can make visits pleasurable or frustrating. Our study identifies a number of implications and several avenues for future research."
Dr Peter Lugosi Reader at the Oxford School of Hospitality Management and principal investigator of the study