Summer has come at last and it is time for pitchers of Pimms, copious amounts of tapas and, of course, strawberries and cream. With the months of July and August being amongst the busiest for the restaurant business now is the time to fully embrace the transforming summer tastes and atmosphere to engage customers.
As the weather gets warmer, more and more people are encouraged to get outside and enjoy the city’s parks, attractions and restaurants; whether it is adventurous tourists or inspired locals, summertime encourages everyone to be outside. And what’s better than enjoying a drink (or two) during golden hour with work colleagues, having a long indulgent family lunch on a warm Sunday or having a romantic meal as you watch the sun go down? So here are 3 ways that your restaurant can give customers what they look forward to during the summer with assistance from QReservations. 1. Al Fresco Dining Al fresco dining is without a doubt one of the most exciting aspects of the summertime dining experience, particularly in Britain. Finally, the skies are clear and people can leave the comfort and safety of the warmth from inside the restaurant to soak up the weather and atmosphere as they enjoy a fantastic meal with great company outside. Not only do people enjoy eating outdoors but you could be helping improve your customer's health when they enjoy al fresco dining at your establishment as studies have shown that eating outdoors decreases stress and ease muscle tension. Customers are not the only people who adore al fresco dining, owners appreciate it too as outdoor seating can increase revenue by 30% by utilising a garden space or pavement for the summer months. One study carried out by the Simon Advisory Group found that a £160,000 investment in outdoor seating increased overall sales by £400,000 for one restaurant, which is a phenomenal success. Whilst not all businesses are able to make this substantial investment to improve outdoor seating possibilities there are ways to achieve a more seasonal atmosphere in restaurants. Firstly, changing the layout of your tables to focus around light, windows and scenic views outside of the restaurant will create a greater appreciation for the outdoors and feeling of brightness that people want to enjoy during the summer. As well as this, you could utilise outdoor spaces that you already have such as, gardens and patios, better by adding more seating. The interactive floor plan feature on QReservations allows users to change restaurant floor plans easily and freely, in order that you can adapt your seating arrangements to best serve the summer months and change them again as customers want to venture indoors. 2. Spontaneous Summer Bookings A greater number of people exploring British cities means that there will also be a greater number of hungry people looking for a suitable restaurant en route or booking the perfect meal for the end of a day of sightseeing. During 2019, VisitBritain estimates that the UK will welcome an enormous 38.8million visitors throughout the year and the month of July 2018 alone, saw 3.8million visitors, which was a 2% increase from 2017. These statistics illustrate how large the potential is for restaurants to serve new international customers over the summer period if they have the best tools for doing so. The industry is well aware that cancelled reservations are one of the biggest reasons for losing profit and can especially impact small businesses. With one study showing that on average, 20% of diners in big cities will fail to turn up for their restaurant reservations every effort to decrease this number must be explored in order that businesses are not losing out in a genuine attempt to help customers. More people exploring the UK during the summer months results in a greater amount of foot traffic around cities where visitors and locals are more likely to see a restaurant they are interested in and visit immediately or in the coming days. By giving customers the ability to see in real-time availability of a restaurant via the QReservations system integrated into restaurant websites it should result in better planning for more immediate meals and fewer cancellations. Not only does the customer have the ability to plan dinner reservations for that night or within the coming days, but restaurants are able to better manage the booking they receive in real-time with the software also. The booking functionality that QReservations offers also means less potential customers spending time waiting for tables to become available and possibly leaving after becoming impatient. Whilst some customers resign themselves to waiting in queues for a table, many do not appreciate this pastime, particularly in the summer heat. A study carried out by Sacla Italia UK found that 70% of adults become frustrated by some aspect of waiting whilst at a restaurant, with 25% of those participants identify waiting for a table as the source of their frustration. By allowing customers to book a table ahead of time for later that day or within a few hours, QReservations helps businesses keep customers as booking ahead means that groups can carry on exploring before arriving to a table at their chosen restaurant that is waiting for them. 3. Seasonal Updates Firstly, seasonal menus are very popular among customers because as the summer months roll in our tastes and expectations change; consumers do not desire a hearty soup or heavy roast dinner but instead light, fresh and exotic menu options whilst the sun is out. By adapting the menu to one with more “summery” options businesses can cater to consumers tastes and capturing the atmosphere whilst also saving money on in-season produce. Changing the menu keeps the business current and injects passion into chefs. Just as al fresco dining is a hallmark of the summertime dining experience, so are healthier and lighter food options. Another revelation that the Sacla Italia UK study showed was that the 35% of participants who are eating out more included restaurant discounts as one of the top three reasons for doing so and in London 15% said that deals are the number one reason for eating out more. As summer entices more people outside, deals could be a fantastic way to beat the competition at gaining new customers. And as QReservations is integrated into the restaurant’s own website, customers are able to see your business’ deals and latest seasonal menu updates on the restaurant's website without being drowned in other deals and options. Summer is one of the most highly anticipated times of the year as it allows people to get out with the people they care most about whilst enjoying the best of the British weather. By applying the above tips and these QReservation tools to your business, customers will be able to fully enjoy the atmosphere with you.