As the hospitality industry adapts to the changes in lifestyle due to a pandemic, we are seeing a rise in three emergent trends.
1. Ghost Kitchens
There is an increasing demand for existing restaurants to offer more take-out options, easy curbside pickup and quick turn-around times for deliveries. This also relates to businesses that offer catering and take-out services. As revenue slims down due to the loss of in-house dining, the need to find efficiencies greatly increases. We are seeing new players come into the market as pop-ups or delivery-only food vendors. These businesses are thriving so long as the change in lifestyles continues through the pandemic.
Restaurants and venues are now renting out their kitchens and spaces to help their businesses thrive. Accessibility to shared kitchens called ‘ghost kitchens,’ makes it possible for new food vendors to join the market and commit to delivery services such as UberEats, DoorDash, SkiptheDishes and more. They simply set their hours and location and can operate as any restaurant would. Some areas they will need to plan for is packaging and marketing.
Consumers benefit from more variety and unique flavours from chefs that otherwise would not be in a position to manage a restaurant, eatery or catering business. This short-term growth in food vendors helps small players grab some market share, as well as large venues and restaurants can rent out unused space. Ghost kitchens are reducing competition barriers as our expectations of food change from a dining experience to take-out only.
2. Virtual Dinner Parties
Restaurants and eateries are promoting virtual dinner parties to help maintain the aspect of getting together with family and friends at your favourite restaurant. They provide conferencing services so everyone can join at once and offer multiple services such as screen sharing, games nights and more. A lot of conferencing tools come with a cost and have time limits, so this gives customers ease of use and motivation to attend a dinner party.
Also, it is a smaller monthly cost for the restaurant provider with the potential of increasing revenue. The goal is to encourage each household to get food from the restaurant through pick-up or delivery, recreating the in-person group dinner party experience. It is a great option to upsell from just food to a social experience.
3. VR Dining Experiences
Virtual Reality (VR) dining experiences were available well before the pandemic hit. It is interesting to see how demand for such experiences has increased as we now have the time to really think about our diets, experience food on a microscopic level, and generally more time to slow down and reflect on our choices. The VR experience helps diners eat regular food but be transported into a space where they see, hear and sense the finer details of their food. This engages all 5 senses and further enhances the tasting experience.
VR dining experiences include delivery of food to the consumer and cover all technology requirements. It can be a mix of renting technology or owning your own, which the average consumer may not have. These packages are for premium dining and come under the luxury market for special occasions, date nights and other consumer wants.
It is nice to know that despite the pandemic, we still have virtual dining, entertainment and food options available!