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What Guests Want Today

November 11, 2009 By: Jon Taffer


As 2009 winds down, savvy bar owners and operators are tuning into subtle, and not-so-subtle, changes in patron behavior. Research by Taffer Dynamics revealed some interesting shifts. Make some adjustments now to capitalize on these trends and ensure a happy holiday season for your establishment.

Smaller, Neighborhood Operations
Clearly, in many markets, there is a trend toward smaller, more intimate, neighborhood-styled operations over the big box, big city nightclubs of the past. This fits a new trend for comfortable, soft environments that stimulate eye-to-eye interaction and prompt conversing over high-energy dancing.

Less Dancing, Less Tech
Operations based solely around dance floors are taking a hit. Current trends make dancing part of an experience, but no longer the center of it. Operations with large dance floors are finding them filling later and later in the evening as person-to-person interaction takes center stage. Operations with smaller, low-key dance floors, and in some cases several small dance floors around the facility, are achieving higher sales-per-square-foot results.

Parking over Cruising
Starbucks and other coffee houses have “trained” the bar customers of the future (teens) to enjoy a social, interactive experience while seated in inside and outside environments. This social “preconditioning” has bled into their adult behavior and preferences in bars. As a result, younger guests prefer more seating than in the past; they’re more likely to sit in groups rather than “cruising” or walking around. Our customer research shows “lack of seating” to be a big factor today; it was an almost nonexistent customer comment five years ago.

Staying Longer
Our research and tracking shows guests are staying longer at venues than five years ago. We all know that “bar hopping” reduced as a result of more stringent DWI laws, but this trend of guests remaining in a venue longer has grown considerably. Our research shows this trend is based in new social behavior rather than an interest in avoiding driving after drinking. We believe it fits into the new “let’s sit, talk and have coffee” mentality of the new younger bar customer.


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