Product identity and personalised dining experiences is key, according to F&B experts

The first panel at the Caterer Middle East Food and Business Conference 2018 looked at consumer behaviour around food, eating out, bars and nightlife
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Personalised dining experience, product identity and discounting will be top focuses for restaurants in 2018, according to panellists at the Caterer Middle East Food and Business Conference 2018 held at Grosvenor House on March 6, 2018.

According to Keane Brands group strategy director Stefan Breg, what restaurants need is data, data and more data.

"Guests are now demanding a more personalised dining experience and that requires deeper engagement especially with the rise of social media," Breg added.

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However, highlighting the fact that customers now are more discerning, Lindsay Trivers, managing partner of The Tasting Class, added that restaurants and bars are now catering for customers who want value. 

Agreeing with Trivers' assessment, AccorHotels VP food & beverage - luxury brands Middle East Russell Scott elaborated that restaurants need to price their food and beverage right. "If you price your food right then there's no need to discount. And those restaurants that do not discount need to create value with a flexitarian attitude especially with different foods," Scott said during the panel discussion.

Product identity was another big focus of the panel discussion. According to Akmal Anuar, chef and founder of 3Fils Restaurant, product and identity in Dubai is diluted in terms of direction.

"If you own a restaurant, you need to know where you're going and price it right," Anuar noted.

In addition he said, "You not only need to know who the who your target market is but you also need to know what they want to eat less and what they value."

"Nowadays I find customers who come into my restaurant and show me a picture of a dish on Instagram and say that they want exactly that. They used to say, people eat with their eyes but today it’s, people eat with their phones" Anuar added. According to him if people are so mobile-driven, the industry needs to make use of it.

In agreement, Scott noted that a lot of the time customers go into a restaurant and say 'I want this, I want it now and I want it like this...' He continued: "This is something we restaurateurs hear now.”

However, countering that statement, Breg added: “I think going forward, we have to think of ways to entertain without having to rely on a photograph or Instagram..."

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