A Look Back: Top Restaurant & Hospitality Industry Trends We Saw in 2017

We can all agree, 2017 has flown by. Our team kept busy guiding clients (and engaging new ones) through build outs, openings, brand management, and keeping our antennae up for industry trends, all in the name of providing clients with the best directives we can to make the most of their business.

Each year we look back. Back to the top restaurant trends and top hospitality trends that made their mark. We analyze those trends to forecast shifts and challenges we see facing restaurant owners and operators in the coming year. Stay tuned for our forecast in next month’s news/blogs.

Now, we look back:

1) Online Reservation Systems… as technology moves us forward. Simplicity. Trending this year: reservations systems made easy. Guests crave enjoyable, uncomplicated restaurant experiences. System upgrades, new technologies, and operators embracing (and utilizing) reservation systems to benefit their businesses were determining factors in making this a trend to watch. In fact, we explored How OpenTable Works For Us in a first person account from Founder Dan Simons of our use, and guiding our clients in successfully using, OpenTable.

2) Building a Better Business, One Guest at a Time. Balance. Specifically, the balance between taking restaurant businesses to the next level with new data systems and advances in technology, without losing sight of perhaps the most important element of a restaurant, one we can’t manufacture: creating a real, meaningful, personal connection with guests. What made this trend significant? We believe balancing new technologies with tradition is worth the effort, as it’ll resonate with guests, and up your brand recognition and guest loyalty.

3) Saving Our Plant, One Straw at a Time. Sustainability. Each year, we see more and more restaurant brands taking care to apply sustainable practices whenever possible. We’ve guided clients on our commitment for years, and have spoken to the meaning of sustainability, championing tap water at every table, reducing waste, and more. Most recently, steering our client to a “no plastic straws” policy. What does it all mean? For us this isn’t a trend, but a mantra: do more good and less harm. To leave our children a better planet.

4) Consistent Messaging, From Missions to Menus. Consistency. What is the importance of menu design here? A menu is a guest’s gateway into a brand, and their mission. Make the most of this opportunity. This year, Dan Simons spoke to consistent messaging and what that means for client Founding Farmers, “Our menus,” said Dan, “emphasize food that is connected to people and the earth… sources are primarily family farms, and we make the vast majority of our food from scratch, in-house.” Mission accomplished. Guests know who they are/what they stand for through menu messaging. An industry trend for the ages.

5) Delivery: Friend or Foe? New Territory. This year, we explored the pros & cons of restaurant delivery service. What we found: from (pros) reaching new customers and the power of To Go services to (cons) interrupted kitchen flow and possible poor food quality, delivery services are a work in progress. As our very own Dan Simons puts it, “The feast with delivery concepts will begin to see them feast on each other.” Yup, we’ll have more on this trending topic next month as we deliver the goods on what to expect in 2018.