Restaurant near mall. Server in mask. Photo by Danielle Rice on Unsplash

Four ‘personas’ reveal what motivates diners in the time of COVID

After several months of quarantine, many consumers embraced the return of restaurant dining. But others are still wary, venturing out only to pick up a meal kerbside or have dinner delivered to eat at home.

Meanwhile, restaurants are scrambling to enforce health and safety protocols, juggle takeout and delivery with dine-in service, set up outdoor seating and create menus that cover all these scenarios.

The good news is that 38% of consumers are looking forward to dining out again in the next three months, according to a new survey conducted by YouGov and commissioned by SevenRooms, a data-driven guest experience platform. But every potential customer has different needs and expectations.

To make it less challenging for operators to navigate the new dining landscape, SevenRooms grouped these needs into four “diner personas” based on the survey results.

The pickup patron: These consumers won’t be ready to dine out until there’s a vaccine. Nearly 1 in 4 (23%) will only order for takeout or delivery for the remainder of 2020. Restaurants seem to be doing a good job with these platforms—about half of all Americans continue to feel comfortable ordering food to go.

The safety-savvy consumer: It’s no surprise that customers want to see restaurants following health and safety guidelines. Face masks and 6-foot social distancing are givens, but this group of guests is looking for more. Over one-third of respondents (37%) want physical barriers between tables, 33% want personal hand sanitizers placed on the table and 24% want their food covered when it’s served to them.

The tech-conscious contactless diner: About 1 in 7 consumers (13%) will only visit restaurants that offer a contactless dining experience. Topping the list are virtual waitlists, with 22% of respondents saying they want to join a waitlist before they arrive so they can be seated immediately. Around the same number (21%) want operators to use contact tracing technology, and 17% are in favor of QR codes for ordering and paying.

The carefree guest: This diner persona is eager to dine out in restaurants and less concerned about risks and restrictions. While 29% are comfortable sitting indoors at a restaurant, many more (42%) are limiting visits to outdoor venues. Familiar restaurants are more likely to be on their list—37% are more comfortable dining at places they’ve been to before, but 25% would visit a new restaurant. Bars are not a priority; only 15% of consumers would patronize a drinking establishment…

… visit Restaurant Business to read full story

Main image: Restaurant near mall. Server in mask. Photo by Danielle Rice on Unsplash

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