As millennials age up and settle more firmly into their careers—this consumer group will make up more than 50 percent of the workforce by 2020, according to Pew Research Center—they are flooding more money into the general economy, and foodservice in particular. In a 2018 survey by Datassential, 44 percent of millennials identified themselves as “foodies,” and 14 percent spent more on their average dining out check than any other age group. In other words, younger diners love restaurants, and they are big spenders.
Competition for their business, however, can be fierce. Increasingly, chefs and operators are targeting millennials through customizable menu offerings, limited-time offers, and social media campaigns. But another big way that restaurants are driving millennial traffic is by creating an attractive dining atmosphere that caters to their habits. In particular, a well-designed outdoor dining space—with comfortable seating and ample protection from the elements—can spell big bucks for a restaurant wanting to attract younger customers.
“Millennials are focused on the experience of dining,” says Lindsay Kissel, vice president of sales at TUUCI. “Being outdoors fosters time with friends or family and encourages them to linger more than they might at an indoor table.”
Millennials are regarded as being more social than other demographics and will therefore gather more frequently—and for longer periods—at restaurants. Outdoor dining areas provide a relaxed environment which supports this behavior and, consequently, help drive sales for restaurants.
“The most important thing is to create a comfortable atmosphere.”
In addition, Kissel says that many millennial diners can be seen working on their laptops at outdoor dining spaces, where they enjoy food and beverage during the workday.
“There’s a lot of blurring between their professional lives and their free time,” she says. “They’re choosing to have more freedom in their working experience and environment, and outdoor dining areas can really cater to that.”
In order to attract younger diners with an outdoor seating space, it’s critical for operators to consider the design, from seating configurations that encourage communal dining to flexible seating that can be rearranged for different occasions or special events.
“The most important thing is to create a comfortable atmosphere,” Kissel says. “Ensuring that customers have enough shade at their table, for example, can make a big difference in their overall dining experience, which also affects how much they spend.”
Make sure your customers are covered: TUUCI umbrellas are marine grade, durable against sun and weather, and serviceable in the field, which greatly extends the life of an operator’s investment. For more information, visit TUUCI.com