7 top night-time industry trends for 2020

The night-time industry is constantly evolving, with new trends shaping the way hospitality businesses operate and interact with their customers.

So what are the major industry trends for 2020?

Local experiences will rise

Travellers and tourists won’t turn to chains or well-established eateries and bars when they visit a new area. Instead, they’ll seek out authentic, local experiences.

This gives smaller restaurants and bars the opportunity to capitalise on their local offering. Using local suppliers and serving up genuine local cuisine will entice new visitors who are looking to experience the best kept secrets of an area.

Consumers are prioritising exploration and discovery now more than ever. Information and recommendation is available at the click of a button, but customers are choosing to try new things and explore lesser-known options.

Technology will evolve

AR, VR and immersive experiences will take off in 2020. Already, cocktail bars are introducing AR drinks, where customers can use an app to make their cocktail come to life through their phone.

Bars, hotels and clubs are introducing virtual reality tours of the venue to promote its features to potential customers. Allowing guests to see exactly what they should expect before they dive in and book helps to build customer trust and foster excitement.

Immersive experiences include projections and interactive screens that allow customers to interact with the bar’s setting. Themed bars and restaurants are also going to rise in numbers, as customers are thrust into a fully immersive experience – from speakeasies to WWII bunkers.

If it’s Instagrammable, it’ll be popular

From taking bathroom selfies through to risking lives for the perfect Insta shot, consumers are constantly on the lookout for their next photo opportunity.

And businesses should take advantage of this. From installing neon light displays (who hasn’t taken a pic in front of a pair of fluorescent angel wings?) right through to installing branded photo booths, venues are seeking out ways to encourage consumers to post photographs of their venue. This increases the number of people tagging and talking about the venue, which in turn encourages new customers to come along.

Cocktails and meals no long need to taste delicious – they have to look the part, too. We predict venues will constantly seek new and interesting ways to present their products, in an attempt to entice consumers into taking the perfect pic. According to research by Zizzi, 30% of 18-35-year-olds would avoid a restaurant if they didn’t like its Instagram feed. Knowing what food will look like is yet another example of brand transparency in our digital age. Consumers need to trust that what they order will fulfil their expectations, and social media will help them to find that out.

Staying healthy will be key for consumers

Veganism and vegetarianism are on the rise, both for ethical and health reasons. The number of vegans in the UK has quadrupled between 2014 and 2019, with vegans and vegetarians set to make up ¼ of the British population by 2025.

Venues will continue to respond to this growing trend and adapt menus to include more exciting vegan options and low-calorie dishes.

Consumers also desire no or low alcohol options, as the number of teetotallers rises (25% of young people class themselves as ‘non drinkers’). Venues will respond to this by stocking a range of healthy, interesting no alcohol options. Currently soft drinks are limited, with mocktails considered an expensive (and potentially unhealthy) option. The industry will respond to these trends by introducing a wider range of exciting, premium soft drinks that can appeal to a wider range of consumers – whether they’re out enjoying a meal, or going out to a club.

The industry will focus on sustainability

Food waste is a big problem. The cost of food waste to the hospitality and food service has now reached £2.5 billion, with 18% of all food purchased wasted. The industry must find ways to reduce this waste, and there are plenty of resources and guidance available to help businesses do that.

Sustainability initiatives such as installing smart light bulbs and smart heating, are popular amongst many restaurants and bars. 2019 saw many clubs and bars reduce single use plastic straws and cups, but 2020 will see consumers demand to see more. Bars and nightclubs should consider switching to renewable energy sources where possible, removing bottled water and offering filtered water as an alternative, ‘upcycling’ products such as lemons to reduce waste, and sourcing local ingredients.

Wellbeing will be on everyone’s minds

The hospitality industry is shining a spotlight on the issue of mental health. Two thirds of hospitality workers feel anxiety affects their performance at work, with many feeling unable to talk about their issues.

Employers will seek to improve this by implementing workplace wellbeing schemes, such as offering free counselling sessions or providing managers with mental health training. Other industries across the country are prioritising workplace wellbeing, and it’s now time for the night-time industry to catch up.

Equality, diversity and inclusivity will improve

The night-time industry will continue to embrace equality and diversity, with many businesses recognising the great advantages to employing a diverse range of staff. Of course, cultural diversity needs to be encouraged. Businesses will continue to promote this next year by offering further training to managers (such as implicit bias training), offering mentorships and encouraging the team to recognise areas they can improve inclusivity.

Inclusivity and accessibility will be at the forefront of business’s minds too. Venues will assess their building’s accessibility and start to implement major changes, from ramps and lift access through to accessible viewing platforms and lowered bars. Staff training will be a major consideration for all hospitality venues, too. Staff should be made aware of how to speak to and help those with additional needs. This will help to break down barriers and improve communication between consumer and business.

What are you hoping to achieve in 2020?

Get in touch with the NDML team and let us know your goals for next year. We can help make sure your business is protected against all the unexpected ‘what if’s, so you can get on with doing what you do best!