Does Sustainability influence a guest's choice of restaurant?
As a restaurateur, I always try to keep myself up to date on articles surrounding the hospitality industry and have a routine where I get up to date between 7 and 8 each morning. The other morning there I was, Vanilla latte in hand, finding myself reading an article about sustainability in restaurants in Environmental Leader claiming that:
"About three in four Millennials (74 percent) and Generation Z consumers (72 percent) are willing to pay more for sustainable products and services, according to The Nielsen Company"
Now whilst I'm a little older than would allow me to put myself in either of those social demographic categories, it made me think long and hard, so much so that throughout that day I posed this question to my team, my nearest and dearest and even guests when I was talking to them in the restaurants. I wanted to understand if sustainability really was a big decision maker for people choosing where they go for dinner, and if so would they be prepared to pay extra; or is it actually just a soundbite?
Now whilst my research was not extensive, and very much not scientific, it did make me come to a conclusion that there are a number of reasons we as a society pick restaurants and less than 3% of people actually cite sustainability when I asked them to give me 3 reasons they dine in sites. Value for money, Location, trend, reviews, great menu and even who has the lowest voucher cost were all well above on the list. No doubt there is now more awareness than there has been in the past of sustainability issues. This is reflected by the industry changing from plastic straws to paper, coffee chains trying to reduce single use cups, and the introduction of levies on plastic bags when we are out shopping. There is no question that this is making a difference but what more do we need as society to do to make the changes. What is going to be the catalyst to making a transformational change? I’d welcome your thoughts.
Incidentally earlier today I saw an Instagram post from Jeremy Clarkson where he was calling out a specific country for the number of plastic bottles in a cove – now when you get past the certain irony of a motorhead caring about the environment, will that shock us into changing or do we need a levy to be applied like the government chose to do with plastic bags to make us as society do more. Perhaps this could rather be incentivised with business rates relief to encourage hospitality to embrace change. What’s clear is that we need to get the issues more front and centre in people’s mind when they make their restaurant choices.