As everyone in the hospitality industry knows, a great deal of thought goes into creating the perfect dining experience. But with diners’ tastes, needs and expectations always changing, how can establishments keep up? Our Restaurant Show exhibitors have been exploring the latest trends, the classic requirements and the surprising findings surrounding today’s dining experience par excellence. Here are seven ways to conjure up perfection in your own restaurant.

Ambiance

According to Lumea Ltd, great lighting to set the mood is the best place to start for a perfect meal out. Specialising in long burning liquid wax candles which burn for an incredible 40 hours, they say:

“So much effort goes into creating the perfect dining experience, from creating a menu that hits all the senses to impeccable customer service and hosting. That’s why Lumea have focused on creating a clean and reliable lighting product that professionals can rely on. Our Lumea Liquid Wax Candles help create the perfect ambiance for any venue”

Alfresco Dining - all year round

According to Vista Commercial, alfresco dining has become a big thing and being able to deliver that outside experience all year round is becoming a lot more achievable, even in the UK! They say, “Alfresco is definitely what customers see as the perfect dining experience, particularly if a venue can deliver out of season. This is made possible by utilising one of our beautiful Italian designed and manufactured 'Alfresco Dining' structures featuring remote controlled roofs, heating, lighting and music.”

“A gentle buzz rather than a wall of noise”

After speaking to real customers, the charity Action on Hearing Loss is on a mission to help customers ‘#speakeasy’ whilst out for a meal. They surveyed 1200 members of the public and found that 70% said that their preferred ambiance for dining out is some conversational buzz and a low level of background music, whilst still being able to hear companions. Meanwhile, three in four people said they’d go out more often if the noise levels were lower.

One of their survey participants said, “My ideal dining experience is walking into a restaurant and being greeted by the gentle buzz of people talking – rather than a wall of noise”. According to the charity, a calmer restaurant also brings unexpected benefits to the overall dining experience. These include improved customer satisfaction and loyalty and even the creation of a sensory experience that complements rather than compromises the flavour of food. So turning the music down can turn the customer enjoyment up.

Technologies appropriate to the establishment

Comtrex Systems note that a great dining experience comprises a number of factors, not least well-chosen technology. They list the following elements that contribute to that perfect experience:

“Great food and great service. Staff members that are friendly and knowledgeable on menu items. A flexible menu that caters for different diets (Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten free, dairy free etc.). Restaurants embracing technology, the use of tablets like the Comtrex OrderPad to make ordering quick and simple. Quick payment options that make it easy to split bills and pay, like payment apps such as MasterCard’s Qkr!.”

While TCPOS say it’s not always a case of one size fits all when it comes to technology:

“Customers’ expectations typically vary depending on the environment they are dining in and also the financial outlay they are making. The level of experience a patron has of a Michelin 3 star fine dining restaurant celebrating a special occasion will almost certainly differ from that of a hurried business person in a quick service environment. The role of a solution provider such as TCPOS is to assist with the application of technologies appropriate to the food service environment.”

“Do diners in high-end restaurants really wish to be served by robots?  Do they really want to order from a tablet or a kiosk when they are paying a cool 3 figures for a meal per head? Likewise, if you only have 5 minutes to order lunch and the queues are snaking out the door of the establishment then perhaps that robot or self-service option isn’t so bad after all!”

More choice on the soft drinks menu

Green Lady Sparkling Tea, who serve their signature Green Lady in champagne flutes, equate perfection with an innovative look at the drinks menu. Offering a fancy twist to conventional drinks choices they say, “We decided to make Green Lady with Green Darjeeling, known as the ‘Champagne of teas’, and infuse it with carob fruit, rose oil and nutmeg for sweet, fragrant and spiced notes.” To contribute to the perfect dining experience they say a similar, fresh look at soft drinks choice needs to happen:

“Soft drinks will remain the no.1 choice with food, consumers are now expecting to see a well thought out soft drink selection; operators need to widen their soft drinks offering to succeed.”

Authenticity

Producers of Normandy Camembert, Isigny Sainte-Mère say, “The quest for authenticity is a major trend in gastronomic demand. The western urban customer looks for contrast with everyday life, difference, novelty, escape. He wants to live new experiences and have the feeling of being where the true and the original is, to be able to say "that he was there". With the organic movement, authenticity is at the forefront, it represents what is true and original.”

And QualityFry tend to agree: “Diners are exhibiting a growing interest in more authentic food choices, from locally sourced ingredients and heirloom produce to grass-fed and free-range meats.”

Innovation and attention to every detail

The Rayware Group say that it’s important to transport the customer away from the everyday. What’s most important for them to achieve this?

“Style and innovation,” they say, “The experience has to be above what can be created at home. This has to be available at differing price levels to suit an individual’s budget.

Meanwhile, Nigel Crane, Managing Director of Essential Cuisine (providers of stocks, gravies and jus) considers the dining experience as a whole:

“Customers seeking the ‘perfect dining experience’ want exactly that: an experience. Diners are now looking for so much more than good food when eating out. The power of Instagram – fuelled by experience-seeking millennials – has meant outlets have to get more creative with their offering and consider everything from presentation to technology to interior design. Making the experience memorable and worthy of consumers’ hard-earned cash is absolutely essential to ensure repeat custom.”

You can come and chat to all our exhibitors and explore what they have to offer for that perfect dining experience at the following locations:  

Lumea Ltd
www.lumea.co.uk/
Stand GF50

Vista Commercial
www.vista-commercial.co.uk
Stand GE49

Action on Hearing Loss
www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk
UJ51

Comtrex
www.comtrex.co.uk
Stand GG39

TCPOS
www.tcpos.com
Stand UM11

Green Lady Sparkling Tea
www.greenladyno1.com
Stand UT51

Isigny Sainte-Mère
http://www.isigny-ste-mere.com/en/
Stand UD61

QualityFry
http://www.qualityfry.com/en/
Stand UF51

The Rayware Group
Stand GG49
www.rayware.co.uk

Essential Cuisine
www.essentialcuisine.com
Stand GC10