Hot Tips for COVID Winter: What’s Worked so Far and How to Apply it Now
With cold weather moving in, COVID cases rising, and some states beginning to re-tighten restrictions, we’re having flashbacks to March 2020. Here’s a quick refresher on what helped restaurants stay afloat in the first wave, and what trends lie ahead as we move into winter.
Online Ordering is Key
In April through June, we saw how important it was to have a strong digital presence as buyers flocked to online orders, off-premises dining, and delivery. In an analysis of online ordering data from our partner Olo, we see that over the last four weeks online orders have increased in suburban areas, and decreased in urban and downtown areas. When online orders decrease, it can mean fewer guests are dining out in general OR that guests are coming back to dine in instead of ordering online.
If you find your online orders are decreasing and your in-person dining is not increasing in parallel, it may be time to entice guests back with timely, personalized promotions. If your in-person dining is increasing while online orders are decreasing, use this time to prepare for the next wave. Keep a close eye on your local COVID cases and regulations. Running online order promotions as case numbers ramp up — but before things lock down again — will keep your business top of mind when your guests start prioritizing online orders and takeout again.
Understand How Your Guests Are Feeling
If you can connect your GCI to individual guests, you can deliver truly personalized messaging and promotions that are sure to generate a high ROI on your marketing dollars.
It has never been more important to stay connected to your guests, and to make sure messaging is relevant to what consumers are experiencing. Consumer segmentation has always helped target messaging — understanding guest demographics and behavior helps craft messages that resonate with the audience. With mindsets and behaviors changing as guests navigate COVID risk, a new cohort has emerged: guest concern level.
Fishbowl partnered with BARE International to survey consumers across the US about their level of concern regarding COVID. We asked participants to rate their levels of concern as Low, Medium, or High during the time period of October 29 through November fifth of this year. This resulted in the Guest Concern Index (GCI)
Marketers can use a GCI metric to create more targeted messaging, especially when the level of concern is tracked regularly. Rising concern among your guests calls for increased messaging about your off-premises offerings and online ordering. Rising percentages of Medium and Low guest concern suggest emphasizing messaging around in-store promos, features like contactless menus, and dining room safety practices. Understanding the ebb and flow of consumer sentiment can help you better anticipate in-person dining revenue in the coming weeks and gear up for off-premises activity. And most powerful of all: if you can connect your GCI to individual guests, you can deliver truly personalized messaging and promotions that are sure to generate a high ROI on your marketing dollars.
Read more about Fishbowl’s touchless menu capabilities.
Many restaurants have moved to limited menus to cut inventory needs and streamline operations. It’s important to understand which menu items are the right ones to keep, and which can be safely cut. Legacy menu engineering principles relied solely on quantity, price, and cost to determine what to keep, what to remove, and what to promote. Modern menu optimization now includes more diverse data sets and advanced methods, helping you zero in on the menu items and layout that have the highest potential to satisfy the greatest number of guests. Read our 4 principles for building your menu of the future.
Don’t Stop Thinking Ahead
In April, our Analytics team released a white paper detailing how restaurants can prepare for the inevitable rebound. As predicted then, this recovery will not be uniform, and we’ll hit bumps and waves along the way. As the restaurant industry continues to adapt, creating flexible and dynamic plans becomes even more important.
Fishbowl maximizes restaurant marketing performance by helping brand leaders realize the full potential – and optimize the value – of every guest. We elevate ROI by understanding core drivers of guest engagement and providing tools and services to amplify digital marketing strategies. With the 2020 launch of Engage, Fishbowl further accelerates digital touchpoints, forging a new, vibrant chapter in restaurant marketing. Relied on by more than 45,000 restaurants to effectively engage guests, Fishbowl is headquartered in Alexandria, VA, with remote offices nationwide, as well as in the UK and India.
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