STUDY: Most Diners Want Social Distancing, Face Masks Enforced

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Restaurants need to cater to guests' new and varied expectations. 1 in 3 Americans are looking forward to dining out again.

STUDY: Most Diners Want Social Distancing, Face Masks Enforced

By Anna Wolfe - 08/28/2020

SevenRooms, a data-driven guest experience platform for the hospitality industry, released its “Restaurant Reckoning: Dynamic Diner” report, which uncovered four diner personas to help operators understand what motivates guests to dine out in this new era of hospitality.
According to the data, more than 1 in 3 Americans (38%) said they are looking forward to dining out again over the next three months.

  • More than half want six-foot social distancing and employees wearing face masks enforced (53% and 52%, respectively) 
  • Nearly 1 in 3 (29%) want restaurants to enforce all guests wear face masks when moving around the venue or between courses
  • Just over 1 in 5 (21%) want restaurants to perform on-site health screenings

The study, conducted with third-party research firm YouGov, examined Americans’ preferences around dining experiences and revealed four diner personas based on varying characteristics, including the Pick-up Patron, Safety-Savvy Consumer, Tech-Conscious Contactless Diner, and Carefree Guest.  

  • The Pick-Up Patron: Not all Americans are ready to venture back out to restaurant dining rooms. More than 1 in 4 (27%) stated they will not feel comfortable dining out until there is a vaccine, with nearly 1 in 4 (23%) saying they will only order for pickup and/or delivery for the rest of 2020. More specifically, up to half of Americans are interested in take-out dining, with 51% saying they are comfortable ordering for pick-up and over four in 10 (43%) saying they are comfortable ordering for delivery.
  • The Safety-Savvy Consumer: Now, more than ever before, guests have expressed concerns around their physical health when choosing where to dine out, meaning that restaurant layouts and safety features are crucial. In fact, more than 1 in 5 (22%) say a restaurant providing a detailed outline of health and safety protocols would make them more likely to visit or return. The most important safety measures include:
  • More than one-third of Americans (37%) want physical barriers between tables 
  • 1 in 3 Americans (33%) want personal table hand sanitizer 
  • Nearly 1 in 4 (24%) want their food covered as it is served to them

 

  • The Tech-Conscious Contactless Diner: Nearly 1 in 7 Americans (13%) will only dine out at restaurants with contactless dining solutions.  Features most likely to encourage Americans to visit a restaurant include:
  • More than 1 in 5 (22%) want virtual waitlists (e.g. join a waitlist before they arrive so they can be seated immediately)
  • More than 1 in 5 (21%) want restaurant operators to employ contact tracing technology
  • More than 1 in 6 Americans (17%) want QR codes for ordering and paying 

 

  • The Carefree Guest: There are still many individuals that are eager to dine and drink out with less strict restrictions. For those interested in dining out:
  • Nearly 1 in 3 (29%) are comfortable dining at venues that have indoor seating, compared to the 42% that are comfortable with outdoor seating
  • 1 in 4 (25%) are comfortable dining at restaurants they have never been to before, compared to the 37% that are comfortable dining at restaurants they are familiar with and have been to before
  • More than 1 in 7 (15%) are comfortable visiting other venues, like bars

Leveraging Data to Build Loyalty 

As operators look to deliver a dining experience that appeals to guests, taking care and attention to their tech preferences and health and safety requirements, one of the best ways to build strong guest relationships is by utilizing data to personalize dining experiences – whether for take-out or dine in. SevenRooms research found that diners who are comfortable sharing their data with restaurants are happy to do so for certain things, including: 

Data for a Deal

  • Half (50%) of these diners would share data to receive discounted offers or promotions 
  • Nearly half of these diners (48%) would share data to receive delivery or pick-up promotions or offers 

Data for Health

  • Nearly 1 in 2 (45%) would share data for contact tracing efforts (e.g. being notified of potential COVID-19 exposure after a visit)
  • Nearly 1 in 3 (29%) would share data for personalized communication and updates around COVID-19 precautions and processes at the restaurant 

Data for Personalized Dining 

  • Nearly 1 in 4 (24%) would share data for a more personalized dining experience (i.e. menu tailored to dietary preferences) 

The full report is available at sevenrooms.com.

SevenRooms commissioned YouGov PLC – a third party, professional research and consulting organization – to poll the views of 1,237 individuals who agreed to take part. Fieldwork was undertaken online between July 31 – August 3,