Restaurants are far more than just places to eat. With such innovative and versatile restaurant chains emerging in the market, it’s now much more difficult to ensure your brand stands out from the rest in an extraordinary way. It’s important to consider all of the senses…there’s much more to dining than simply the food. So if eating out should be an experience, how can you create satisfaction for the customer before the food even arrives at the table?
Be conscious of sound, are guests hearing what you want them to hear and is what they hear in the bathrooms for example the same? This can play an important role in capturing the right atmosphere, as music should be complementary and reflect the type of restaurant, whilst adding an element of authenticity. With reports suggesting that 79% of people have left a restaurant early due to high noise levels, it’s also important to consider the level of noise. Sound doesn’t just refer the background music either; dishes have different sounds when being cooked and eaten which might add an interesting element to the dining experience, it’s essential to look outside the norm.
One of the first senses we engage before eating a single forkful of food, is of course sight. Does the interior look modern and contemporary, or is it a little rough around the edges? Does the colour scheme complement other visuals such as the furnishing, fabrics, fonts, and fashions? – Continuity is key. A lot of thought goes into restaurant design due to the effect that it has on the customer experience. Table layouts, how the staff are dressed, as well as things like the location of the kitchen are all things to consider – for example it’s common now for the kitchen to be visible to the guests adding further to the sensory experience. The products also need to be visually appealing of course, from the way they’re positioned on the menu to the portion size and the way they’re presented on the plate.
Taste is arguably the most influential of the senses when thinking about a restaurant experience. After all, one main reason for eating out is to eat nice food that you wouldn’t necessarily eat at home. And now with companies like Deliveroo delivering quality food to your front door, the whole dining experience has to be even more appealing if customers are to leave their houses. There are many tactics that restaurants employ to achieve this including keeping the menu fresh and updated, using locally sourced produce, seasonal specialities and diverse menus that cater to diverse requirements such as families, vegan and wheat intolerant diets. It’s also important to ensure the taste is satisfactory for not just your customers, but your employees and stakeholders too as they should be your biggest advocates.
Are your materials in line with your ideal brand perception? Are your tables made out of a certain wood to create a certain tactile response or just for convenience? Touch is arguably the most subliminal sensory influence, however when utilized correctly it can add great brand story to your restaurant. Although all of these may not seem incredibly important, touch and texture is often linked with affecting the experience of tasting food, for example research showed that tasting a liquid whilst touching velvet made the texture creamier.
Take a step back, close your eyes…what do you smell? Smell is directly linked to cognitive memory – guests will link the smell of the restaurant to their experience and if it doesn’t smell nice, it’s likely people won’t want to eat it! Smell is often undervalued, so shake it up, vary the aromas, and make it interesting just not overpowering! Is it just the food that you can smell, or are there other intentional or non-intentional aromas setting the aromatic scene for your guests?
The sixth sense is key to that unexplainable aura, that so many restaurants seek, but fail to provide. This aura is what sets your business apart from others and what can make customers fall in love with your restaurant! It comes from a combination of the above, the perfect blend of senses in a multisensory experience, that is unique to your restaurant.