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The new era of food and beverage: attractions trends for 2021

The Convious team explores how to create enjoyable & streamlined experiences for visitors 

Opinion
hot dog and fries

by Bernard Kochen, Convious

Thrill-seekers of all backgrounds and ages are excited to gravitate back towards their favourite amusement parks and attractions as restrictions ease. People are looking forward to the feeling of novelty and escapism that an experience like that can offer. And it’s not just about the rides or the on-site attractions anymore.

Guest expectations now also encompass many other areas of their visit, from safety and seamless online bookings, all the way to smooth parking and quality food and beverage experiences.

animal kingdom earth day food and beverage trends
Disney

In fact, more and more venues are beginning to realize that traditional hot dogs and burgers don’t really cut it. Many are now offering an outstanding food and beverage experience that goes way beyond having a few on-the-go food stands serving popular bites and snacks. 

Look closer at the food and beverage offer

The quality of the food that attractions serve is of course something that will have a huge impact on the visitors’ experience. But it’s also about how they serve it and the experience that revolves around it.  Operators should ask the following questions:

  • Do visitors have clarity regarding all the food options and locations available?
  • Do they have enough time to look at the menu in advance instead of having to rush their order once they are approaching the counter? Are they aware of the prices or if there’s any kids menu or vegan options?
  • Do they have to wait in long lines, sacrificing minutes of fun?
Pictures of food available at Super Nintendo World
Universal

Attractions can make this so much more convenient for visitors. The whole process, from when guests start getting hungry and thinking about having a meal, up until they decide to order something and then eat it, is a whole experience. One that in itself can either be a disappointing hassle or a source of enjoyment and pleasure.  

In order to achieve the latter, let’s take a look into some of the trends that are transforming the food and beverage experience within attractions and how venues can innovate within this area. 

How to embrace creativity and innovation in the food and beverage industry

Along with the rise of the experience economy, theme parks, museums, FECs, zoos, and many other venues within the industry are realizing the importance of not only keeping their visitors well-fed but also offering quality and unique experiences with it. This encourages people to stay longer in the attraction and increases in-venue spending.

In order to achieve that, attractions have jumped into new trends and begun to innovate in this area:

The trend for themed food & beverage experiences

One of the best ways to engage the audience through food and beverage is by creating a themed food offering and environment. One that will make the experience something unique and special.

Star Wars Galaxys Edge drinks at Oga's Cantina food and beverage trends
Disney

For example, if you are spending your whole day out immersed in a magic fantasy world, would you want to eat a plain regular burger? Doesn’t that break the consistency that holds the magic of your carefully crafted world together?

After all, visitors could have a regular meal in a regular canteen any other day. But they have come to an attraction in hopes that they will be surprised with something different and unexpected. So, operators should try to escape the ordinary and adapt their food and beverage offerings to the context and theme of the venue.

Remember, food isn’t “just food”. It can actually be yet another reason to ‘wow’ visitors. 

Instagrammable immersive foodie experiences 

Although eating is not the main thing that visitors are coming to visit an attraction for, it can still be part of the entertainment experience.

Some venues, such as museums, use their food and beverage experience to educate their visitors and tell stories about the origins of their meals. Meanwhile, others such as theme parks, turn an ordinary dull moment of waiting into a surprise. For instance, by delivering their food on a roller coaster track or having their chefs perform magic tricks whilst preparing their food in front of them.

Hogwarts Great Hall set up for after hours dining experience food and beverage trends
Warner Bros. Studio Tour

In the end, by surprising visitors with the food and beverage experience, attractions are creating a new source of entertainment. One that will increase visitor engagement and in-venue spending, as well as user-generated shareable word-of-mouth content. 

Today’s visitors, especially the younger generations, are looking for instagrammable foodie experiences they can share with their friends. This gives potential visitors one more reason to visit. 

Promoting loyalty through wearables, gamification, and special discounts 

When it comes to food and beverage trends, have operators thought about their most loyal and recurring visitors? Those who visit frequently or are season pass holders. The food and beverage offer can be a great element to play with in order to keep on offering fresh and new experiences. These will tempt these visitors to keep coming back time and time again. 

Churros

Furthermore, along with season passes, attractions could also offer customized wearables that allow guests to order through easy and contactless systems, food and beverage loyalty programs that work with points, or even gamification options. These can allow visitors to gain special meals or discounts and makes their waiting times in line more entertaining.

With enough creativity and the right technology, food and beverage within an attraction can offer a great source of engagement and increased spending. This in addition to putting the icing on the cake of the visitor experience. 

Bronto Burgers and Ribs WBAD food and beverage trends
Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi

However, there are still various challenges that attractions must tackle when it comes to food and beverage. Especially since COVID-19 has made venues operate with limited capacity and find new ways of avoiding unsafe queues and crowds within their food and beverage establishments. 

Mobile food ordering is one of the key food and beverage trends, that also presents a highly effective solution to such challenges. It is a strong visitor experience enhancer that promotes convenience, timeliness, and safety. 

Savour the benefits of integrating mobile food ordering

For operators and kitchen staff:

  • Easily and smartly communicate available food options to visitors when the time is right through geolocation and push notifications. Who can resist a special meal offer when their stomach is growling? 
  • Easily manage orders and integrate them with the kitchen staff’s systems so that everyone can benefit from a clear overview
  • Plan and optimize resources such as staffing more efficiently 
  • Easily manage stock and inventory 
  • Real-time overview of orders
  • Offer a safe experience by leaving queues and lines out of the equation
Convious mobile food ordering food and beverage trends

For visitors:

  • More time to check out the menu and make a food choice they are happy with. No more pressure or nervous stutters at the counter!
  • More information available that can be displayed with every food option (allergies, nutrition…)
  • Time wasted waiting in line to order food is now replaced by time spent having fun and enjoying the venue. Guests can just choose their pick up time and make the most of the experience until their food is ready to be served.
  • A crowd-free and easy way to make another moment spent in the venue a pleasant and delicious experience.

The best part is that none of the above food and beverage trends out of the reach of operators. Implementing an engaging, safe and easy mobile food ordering system for visitors is much easier than one might think. All you really need is a device such as a tablet, phone, or TV monitor and you are good to go!

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bernard kochen convious

Bernard Kochen

Bernard Kochen is a leisure industry expert with over more than 15 years of working with different tech-oriented companies in the EMEA market. He works as VP of sales at Convious, the leading eCommerce SaaS for the leisure industry, partnered up with more than 100 leisure venues in Europe, such as The Plopsa Group, Merlin Entertainment Group, Parque Reunidos Group, Looping Group, and more. He specializes in Data-Driven Sales, using Artificial Intelligence to maximize leisure venue's revenue.

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