hospitality interior designer

The key to longevity in the hospitality industry 

I read an article recently about the secrets of staying in the hospitality industry. Various bar, café and restaurant owners talked about their experience. Revealing why they think they’ve been able to stay in business for many years. The key to longevity in the hospitality industry varies for each business owner but here are my thoughts after ten years of hospitality interior design work.

Good food

It sounds like a no brainer but some hospitality business owners over think their food offering. While interesting dishes with innovative flavour combinations and cute names for the menu is nice, most clients just want good food, good value, good service.

Most of my hospitality design clients are still in business and some have successfully sold their business based on the principles of good food, good value and good service and of course good design.

When I work with hospitality design clients, we discuss their menu because knowing their food offering helps me conceptualise the interior design. Without doubt the key to longevity in the hospitality industry is a solid food offering.

That’s why some of the most successful hospitality businesses serve a simple concept such as The Meatball & Wine Bar or Very Good Falafel. Hospitality businesses with a simple food idea is one way to ensure longevity in the hospitality industry.

hospitality designer melbourne
Good food key to hospitality business success

Good value

Diners would agree that a good value dining experience is important. Diners don’t want to spend any amount of money on a plate of food they don’t enjoy. Even if they receive exceptional service.

While my expertise is as a hospitality interior designer, I know from talking with my clients how important it is to source good quality wholesale food. As a hospitality business owner, it’s also important to know your numbers.

So many business have closed down recently such as Babajan, claiming that the cost of living has really impacted their business. People just not eating out as often. Yet, there are so many other restaurants full of people.

I often wonder what’s going on back of house with sourcing good quality food, menu planning, pricing dishes accurately. Other key financial considerations include lease, wages, marketing and so on.

Striking the right balance for the cost of items on a menu is important to longevity to the hospitality industry but an important business planning activity.

Good service

I’m confident you and someone you know has been the recipient of bad service in a café, bar or restaurant. I recently had a bad experience at the Wesley Anne where a staff member suggested I BYO mustard when I asked why they didn’t have mustard to serve with my steak.

As you can expect, I’m never going back to the Wesley Anne and I’m telling everyone I know about my experience. Maybe the person who was rude was having a bad day. Maybe they weren’t trained well but good service is one of the key elements of longevity in the hospitality industry.

When I work with my clients I talk to them about the customer journey. While I realise this may be a buzz term, it’s important to consider. We start at the front door. What do they want their customers to do, how will their customers be greeted.

However, I think the customer journey starts before your customers come through the front door. I think it start online. Whether it’s a direct search to your website or a Google search for local places to eat out, your customers have an expectation. It might be conscious or unconscious but it’s an expectation your hospitality business not only has to meet but exceed.

The only way to guarantee longevity in the hospitality industry is to prioritise good service and ensure your customers are treated well because a good experience is just as memorable as good food.

Good design

Of course as a specialist in hospitality interior design I would say that good interior design is key to longevity in the hospitality industry but some of my favourite cafés are not interior designed. Places like the Green Refectory and the Factory Café.

I like these places because they reflect the owner, they’re personal. They succeed in my mind because they have good food, good value and good service. Even though just around the corner there are other notable cafés such as Code Black Coffee.

Interior design is important to differentiate your hospitality business. I also think that it’s part of the concept of hospitality to give your customers a unique environment to be in to experience your food.

While it’s nice to have your hospitality space and food photographed, it’s not a key priority. It comes after good food, good value and good service.

Good interior design also doesn’t have to be expensive, it just needs to be considered, consistent and cohesive. My approach to hospitality interior design is synergy. That every touch point of your hospitality business tells the same story.

The website, the shop front, the menu, the graphic design, the interior design, the food everything in your hospitality business needs to sing from the same hymn sheet. Consistency and cohesion are the keys to longevity to your hospitality business.

While I’m not a successful hospitality business owner I have good relationships with my hospitality interior design clients, and I think their insights and the way they run their businesses which are thriving, even after the pandemic is testament to the holy trinity mentioned above.

That is good food, good value and good service being the key elements to longevity in the hospitality industry. Remembering what hospitality means and harnessing the value of hospitality in your business plan will be a good start to surviving, thriving and possibly even selling your hospitality business for a profit some in the future.