10 predictions about the future of the on-premise

Meta-mealtimes, satisfied staff and an end to hospo-ghosting are among the top 10 predictions about the trends that will shape the future of the on-premise in Australia, according to new research by me&u.

According to at-table ordering solution me&u, while the bar has long been the beating heart of communities, filled with history and tradition, the way we interact with venues has changed.

In partnership with YouGov and a me&u interview panel of industry experts throughout Australia, the UK and US, the ‘Pubs, Pints & Predictions: Hospitality Ten Years On’ report uncovers what the pub of the future will look like and the trends that will redefine what it means to go out. 

The report explores the changing role of the Aussie pub and the evolution of connected customers, inspiring ways in which to future proof struggling hospo hotspots. Built by hospitality for hospitality, me&u’s future-gazing tour of trends looks to help support your much-loved venues as we continue to emerge from challenging times and beyond, helping you prop up the bar for years to come. 

Michael Rodrigues 24-Hour Economy Commissioner, NSW Government said “Audiences are now used to choice and control. Welcome to generation ‘on-demand’. The mistake for Australian venues would be to settle for a rebuilding mindset, when a reforging one is needed. This is an opportunity to think differently.”

Katrina Barry, Global CEO me&u added: “With Australia’s hospitality sector one of the most heavily affected in the world, this has and is still impacting staffing, service and customer experience when it comes to going out.

“The report looks to explore the key themes and developments, uncovering the pub of the future to arm our allies, your favourite venues, with the trends that can help them future proof their offering, and understand their customer a little better. 

“For pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants globally, we have to acknowledge that our customer has changed, and will change again; and we have to be ready, willing and able to arm ourselves with the right tools, partners and technologies to keep up.  Businesses will need to be creative, to be brave, to try new things whilst remaining agile and nimble within the market.”

Here are the top 10 predictions the report has made:

1. Technology rules

The report showed that customers are expecting to see smart technology available in future (80%), with customers keen for tech to bring the end to the hassle of ordering, and 57% of Aussies agreeing that they would use an app or tech platform that makes the process of ordering easier. However, most importantly, 85% of Aussies agree that technology can be useful, but hospitality remains all about people and human interaction.

2. Virtual hospitality on the rise

The pub of the future will see the role of the metaverse coming into play. me&u’s findings showed 60% of Millennials agreed they’d be interested in trying a new venue in the metaverse first and 60% would be interested in a venue using the metaverse to experience virtual reality activities, such as virtual tours of the region they selected their wine from.

3. Pub to become more than a place for a pint

Drinking will no longer be the main attraction on a night out according to me&u’s Pubs, Pints & Predictions: Hospitality Ten Years On report. Creative or themed but flexible venues are flagged as the way forward. Whether acting as a space for a community meeting center, a hub for parents to meet up for coffee, or offering a working space away from home, 78% of customers are expecting pubs to adapt to different needs across the week. 44% also want to visit venues which cater for the whole family, not just drinking.

4. The new rules for nights out

Although 87% of Aussies are currently going out to venues post COVID-19 lockdowns, findings showed that 89% of Aussies have changed their night-out habits in recent years. People are starting and finishing their nights earlier (37%) and less willing to stand in long queues (48%). What’s more, many have started to research their nights out in advance (43%). In future we can anticipate Aussies to be less likely to bar hop, with 44% of those asked preferring to stay in one venue and using their nights out to spend more quality time with friends and family (41%).

5. Non-alc is here to stay

While Aussies found a new passion for making margaritas on the couch in 2020, me&u findings show that the number of Aussies who consume alcohol may be on the decline. Although pub lunches and boozy brunches are far from extinction, 30% expect to be drinking less in five years’ time, whilst 22% are likely to give up drinking alcohol altogether. 40% of Aussies say they’re happy to visit alcohol-free venues, with a similar number expecting venues to have a good range of alcohol-free options. 

6. Waging the war on waste

The report found that while consumers are taking the charge to live eco-consciously, venues should be more aware of their own waste. 75% of customers think hospitality venues produce a worrying amount of waste from disposable items and 82% are concerned about the industry’s food waste, wanting the industry to act on both issues. Whilst 77% of Aussies expect to see their go-to venues contributing to the local economy by sourcing food and drink locally, giving back as an organisation was also high on the agenda. The majority (69%) are more likely to visit venues that contribute positively to the local community by volunteering or supporting local causes. 

7. Hospitality ghosting

Despite patrons demanding more from their favourite venues, such as local sourcing, community integration and sustainability, customers are not always holding up their side of the deal. 42% of Aussies we asked were likely to cancel a booking last minute due to a change of plan, including preferring to stay home. In worse news, Aussies were shown to be guilty of ‘Hospitality Ghosting’, with 25% admitting they were likely to no-show at a booking without letting the place know. Whilst we might flake on seats, we won’t on staff, with 85% of those surveyed wanting career progression paths and professional development opportunities within the industry. 

8. Inclusive venues

Much has been said about the role pubs and bars play in Australia. They act as a midway point between home and work, fulfilling the role of the ‘third place’ where Aussies can socialise and make new connections. However, me&u’s Pubs, Pints & Predictions: Hospitality Ten Years On research shows Australians look for venues which are inclusive of all walks of life. 91% of Aussies agree that all venues need to be accessible and welcoming for those with disabilities now and into the future, whilst 68% agreed that they would only attend pubs, bars and restaurants that support diversity and inclusion.

me&u alh

9. The power of data

With the rise of hyper-personalised venues comes the need to tailor the experience to every unique visitor. In the future, consumers might expect the ability to control the music at their own table or even turn down the lights. 54% of consumers surveyed were shown to be more likely to visit venues that use technology to give them a personalised menu that’s unique to their tastes, including tailored beverage recommendations. 52% agree that they would be more likely to visit venues that use technology to offer tailored experiences such as personalised lighting and music.

10. Connection matters

In an industry that’s experienced significant change in the last three years, the one constant that we know will exist in the industry’s future will be the people. For centuries, the pub and bar has been the beating heart of communities and while technology is evolving how we navigate the public house, genuine interactions and human connections cannot be replaced by artificial intelligence. Almost 9 in 10 (85%) agree that while technology can be useful, they feel venues are all about people and human interactions.

For further details the full report can be found here 

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