Eatertainment is the New Nightclub: How Guests are Changing Nightlife

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Nightlife in the United States is shifting. The so-called “eatertainment” venue, according to one collaborative study, is the new nightclub.

SevenRooms, a data-driven restaurant reservation platform that helps operators collect, categorize and effectively leverage guest information, and YouGov, a market research, public opinion, and data company, partnered on the recently released “The New Nightlife” report.

The study found that American consumer nightlife preferences are shifting away from large crowds, loud music, and exclusivity.

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We asked industry leaders to weigh in on what metrics they were tracking to ensure proper cash flow, increased profit margins, and operations setup for future growth.

Las Vegas, Miami and other major cities may have built massive temples to decadence and EDM with exclusive VIP areas, but 30 percent of Americans want something different from their nightlife experiences. “The New Nightlife” report reveals that nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of Americans will leave a bar or nightclub if they feel it’s too crowded. A line outside of a bar or club will drive away 54 percent of Americans; half will leave if the music is too loud; making guests wait 10 or more minutes for a drink will see 39 percent of guests leave for a different venue; and the lack of food will push way 34 percent of Americans.

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The information collected and analyzed by YouGov and SevenRooms shows that nightlife venues characterized by convenient and efficient service, entertainment and activities, and food and drink in one place are favored by one in three Americans. Places that fit that bill—such as Dave & Buster’s, Main Event, Punch Bowl Social, Pinstripes, and SPIN—are categorized as eatertainment venues.

The growth of the above eatertainment chains and others supports YouGov and SevenRooms’ findings that 35 percent of Americans are more likely to visit a bar or nightclub recommended to them by a friend or family member. Those recommendations, when the venue nails guest service and provides what consumers are after, lead to repeat and loyal guests: 32 percent of Americans are more likely to pick a venue they’ve been to previously than somewhere new.

Joel Mantaniel, CEO and co-founder of SevenRooms, says that in 2019 our industry is “seeing nightlife undergo a similar evolution, enabling operators to think more broadly about what will drive revenue for their businesses,” adding that “nightlife operators have the opportunity to add entertainment and activities to their traditional offerings, opening up a lucrative new revenue channel.”

Mantaniel points out what many operators have noticed and likely struggled with—shifts in consumer behavior. Bar, restaurant and nightlife operations that embrace a more personalized, experience-driven approach to service are in step with what today’s consumer wants. The era of guests planning where to go before, during and after dinner or evening drinks appears to be coming to an end. Today’s guest wants to visit one venue that offers food and drinks, and enough entertainment and activities to keep them in that single spot.

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A quarter of Americans want more eatertainment venues close to them, and a quarter also report that they’ve had more fun at venues that combine food, drink and activities that they do at more traditional venues. Those two findings—plus the revelation that 21 percent of Americans will spend more at an eatertainment venue than a traditional bar or nightclub—should be of interest to operators looking to address this shift in nightlife at their existing venues or open a new eatertainment venue.

Concerts, comedy shows and other live performances are appealing to today’s guest (30 percent), followed by movies (15 percent), arcade games (9 percent), and bowling (7 percent). However, quality food is an important element to succeeding with an eatertainment venue. After all, the portmanteau does begin with the word “eat.”

Quality food—not just food—is the top consideration when guests are deciding on where they’re going to go with their friends on a night out. The study date shows that more than a quarter—28 percent—of Americans consider quality food when making their decision. This is followed closely by a venue being close to where they live (27 percent); offering something to do besides drink (14 percent); and having craft cocktails and craft beer on the menu (12 percent).

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The rise of the “new nightclub” doesn’t appear to be fading fad. Twenty-one percent of Americans have been to an eatertainment venue in the past 12 months. Almost half of Americans (49 percent) have decided to spend a “regular” night out with friends at such a venue.

Delivering experience-driven nights out, personalized guest experiences, and convenience look to be capable of successfully competing against the industry disruption of delivery and staying in.

SevenRooms Eatertainment, the New Nightlife 2019 infographic

Research Methodology: SevenRooms commissioned YouGov PLC—a third-party, professional research and consulting organization—to poll the views of 1,248 individuals who agreed to take part. Fieldwork was undertaken online between May 31 to June 3, 2019. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults (aged 18+).

The full report is available at SevenRooms.com.

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