What makes people loyal to hospitality and how venues can maintain their loyalty

Despite the cost-of-living crisis, eating and drinking out is as important to Britons as ever. Our latest GO Technology research report in partnership with CGA by NIQ and UK Hospitality, revealed that 65% of consumers say eating and drinking out remains a priority for their social life.

In a cash-strapped market, however, brand loyalty is precarious and operators can’t afford to rest on their laurels. Our research highlights that the key to building a loyal customer base is consistent delivery of the fundamentals of hospitality – like high-quality, good-value food and drink, excellent customer service and an overall seamless experience. Read on to find out how tech can help…

Firstly, why do customers spend time in hospitality?

The most popular reason that people choose to go out in hospitality is to socialise with friends and family (50%), followed by celebrating a special occasion (44%). We also know that people view eating and drinking out as a treat – with 41% of people saying they visit hospitality for this reason.

Operators that make life easy for customers to create these moments, such as adopting online booking systems or allowing customers to make tailored requests based on the occasion, will increase the likelihood of customers returning.

What role does hospitality play within communities?

Our research also underlines just how much consumers value hospitality businesses, with two in three (64%) consumers saying the hospitality sector plays an important role in their local community. Despite the pressures that the cost-of-living crisis has presented, 60% say they still want to support local businesses within their communities.

Operators can tap into this affection for local businesses by organising events or raising money for the community. This can help venues to demonstrate their value beyond just being a place to go for food or drink. From pub quiz nights to donating a percentage of sales to a local charity can help build a stronger and more loyal network and customer base, as well as build a positive reputation for the business in the area.

How can businesses build loyalty?

Loyalty is the foundation of growth and success in hospitality. It generates the repeat visits that venues need to survive and thrive, and the brand advocacy needed to engage new guests. And our research shows that consistently delivering on the fundamentals of hospitality is key to generating this. Top of the priority list for guests are:

  • Quality of food (53%)
  • Good customer service (50%)
  • Value for money (48%)

However, it’s not enough to occasionally deliver on these basic elements of hospitality – delivering them on a consistent basis is crucial. This is even more important at a time when spending is tight, as people want to be confident they will get what they pay for.

Having friendly and knowledgeable staff is a significant factor in terms of loyalty for a third of consumers (30%), our insight showed. We know that people make hospitality great, so ensuring staff are delivering on customer expectation and great service goes a long way.

Achieving all this is no easy feat, however. Having processes and technology in place can play a helping hand. Operators that consider investing in solutions which help increase efficiencies and alleviate staff pressures, will set themselves up to succeed in delivering the exceptional service customers expect, encouraging them to return time and time again.

How can technology help?

Technology should never interfere or take away from the overall experience but, if used correctly, it can work behind the scenes and do the heavy lifting. This provides operators and staff with the time and headspace to focus on delivering great service to customers.

For example, having your EPoS linked to your stock and management systems means getting real-time updates on stock availability, which removes the risk of customers making orders, only to find out a few minutes later that the item is out of stock – one of the things we know customers find particularly irksome. Additionally, linking mobile ordering and payment devices to the main tills removes the need for staff to re-key any orders which saves time and minimises errors. This means customers spend less time waiting to be served, or in queues at the bar.

Using technology can also provide operators with a wealth of insight about customer spending behaviours and habits. Having this data, and in real-time, means that operators can get a detailed overview of how well the business is performing, even down to individual menu items. Having this information to hand is really useful when it comes to helping to drive repeat visits. With this data, operators can use the insight gathered to create bespoke deals, promotions, offers and incentives based on customer preferences. This will encourage people to re-visit and reward them for their custom, helping build their loyalty.

Download the full GO Technology: The value of hospitality report here!

Related resources

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GO Technology: The value of hospitality

Discover why consumers choose to go out to pubs, bars and restaurants over staying in; why hospitality matters to them; and what keeps them coming back for more.
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Hospitality Tech Assessment: Improving the guest experience & driving loyalty

Answer a few short questions to identify how well your tech helps you to deliver incredible guest experiences that keep your customers coming back time and time again. At the end you’ll get personalised guidance which explains how you can leverage your customer data to offer personalised customer experiences.
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Loyalty schemes in hospitality: What top CEOs think

Loyalty is currently a hot topic in the hospitality industry but there remains a lot of confusion. What do consumers mean when they say they are loyal to on-trade brands? Is it the same as for other retail brands? How can the sector create and maintain customer loyalty? Does it genuinely add value to the bottom line – or  does it really just boil down to discounting? To answer these – and more – questions, we gathered eight of the industry’s top operators for a chat about all things loyalty.
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