A Look Back: Top Restaurant & Hospitality Industry Trends We Saw in 2018

As we believe in the adage, hindsight is 20/20… each year, we take a look back at the trends and topics that made the most impression on our VSAG team and shaped the trajectory of our industry within the past year.

Here’s our annual look back for 2018: A Look Back: Top Restaurant & Hospitality Industry Trends We Saw in 2018.

Sustainability. We are thrilled that this is an ongoing, important industry topic. The effect of implementing responsible practices now will put a positive, sustainable stamp on global environmental issues for generations to come. This year, we saw our very own Dan Simons launch Our Last Straw and hit some notable milestones, with more to come. Even though straws are a relatively small step, they can be a catalyst for change.

Menu Design. The importance of menu design took center stage this year. And what is the importance of menu design, you ask? As a gateway to guest engagement, the time and effort you spend on menu design will provide a great ROI. This year, we focused on our team’s top three tips for successful menu design when guiding clients to use this key guest engagement tool. Applying balance and clarity in fonts, style, and weights; thoughtful, easy to navigate layouts; and enhancing brand recognition through food and drink options, are just some of the contributors for effective restaurant menu design.

Business Growth. From purchasing power to staffing best practices to expanding and scaling your restaurant business, we’ve covered it all. As the industry begins to flourish after some difficult fiscal years for many restaurant and hospitality concepts, business is back on track for many in the industry looking to grow and expand their concepts. We will see a continuation of reinvention and growth well into the future.

Going Cashless. A topic that garnered lots of interest among our clients and news blog readers. Exploring this theme with our very own resident restaurant operations expert, Amber Hartman, was a great way to introduce our clients and fans alike to the notion of food service providers preferring plastic and/or restaurant mobile payment options, over cold, hard cash. Amber clued us into where this approach makes the most sense for efficiency and mitigating risk (hint: high-volume, fast-casual concepts with multiple locations). Sure, going cashless comes with uncertainty (i.e. owners/operators don’t want to alienate diners who don’t have a smartphone or carry a credit card), but it’s an industry model we believe is worth looking into if your business fits the criteria.

Plant-Based Foods. An increasingly popular trend that we don’t see going anywhere anytime soon. Our team has already worked with clients to satisfy diners who crave a delicious burger, in plant-based form. Enter: the IMPOSSIBLE Burger. But, as plant-based food options, tastes, and technology evolve, producers are utilizing this innovative technology to literally “grow cell tissues” to make lab-grown meat products, and more. Stay tuned. We’re seeing technology developing to include plant-based alternatives for chicken, duck, pork, and even salmon.