The Eat Out to Help Out campaign has drawn consumers back to restaurants, reassured them about their safety and tempted them to try new venues.
Those are among the positive messages in the latest data from the ‘We Hear You’ survey, launched by CGA, Yumpingo and UKHospitality to collect the opinions of consumers returning to hospitality after lockdown. But the survey also uncovers evidence of rising expectations around both safety and experience as people settle into the new normal of eating and drinking out.
Among those visiting venues from Mondays to Wednesdays in August, two thirds (67%) were doing so because of the Eat Out to Help Out offer. More than nine in ten (95%) of them were satisfied with the level of hygiene and cleanliness they encountered, and nearly as many (88%) were satisfied with the following of hygiene practices by their venue’s team. It reflects concerted efforts by operators to roll out stringent hygiene protocols and COVID-19 precautions, and demonstrate to guests that safety is being taken seriously.
While safety approval levels have stayed consistently high since the end of lockdown, general satisfaction scores have dipped since the launch of the half-price offer. Eat Out to Help Out users have produced a Net Promoter Score of +36%, well below the +52% of all visitors since hospitality reopened. This reflects an expected easing of scores after the initial enthusiasm of early returners to the on-trade, as consumers ratchet up their expectations. But it may also be a side effect of the offer’s popularity, which has filled many venues to capacity and left some operators struggling to deliver consistently high experiences.
The ‘We Hear You’ survey echoes anecdotal evidence that Eat Out to Help Out has prompted people to increase their repertoire of venues, with four in five (85%) saying they would use it to try new restaurants. Users of the deal have also spread their visits widely across dayparts—from lunchtime (26%) to mid-afternoon (23%) to early evening (33%) to late evening (15%).
All figures are based on responses to the ‘We Hear You’ survey at the end of visits to nearly 1,000 venues between Saturday 4 July and Monday 31 August. Having gathered opinions from around 114,000 consumers so far, the survey has been a vital element of the industry’s efforts to understand and respond to people’s concerns and priorities after lockdown.
The We Hear You survey confirms that Eat Out to Help Out has been a resounding success in bringing consumers back out to eat,” says Charlie Mitchell, CGA’s Research and Insight Director. “It’s shown people that they can have a safe as well as pleasurable and good value experience in restaurants and other venues, and has been a particularly good stimulus for visits by older people who were previously hesitant. It remains to be seen how many of the millions of Eat Out to Help Out diners return in September, but signs of rising expectations show that operators will have to stay super-vigilant on safety and other standards to keep people coming back for more.”
Gary Goodman, CEO and Founder of Yumpingo, says: "It is fantastic to see what Eat Out To Help Out has done to help the sector, but the dipping of satisfaction scores clearly show it is crucial for operators to keep an eye on the overall experience, simplifying the guest journey where possible and ensuring they do all they can to delight guests at every opportunity."