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5 Restaurant trends to increase in popularity in 2024

Trends within the hospitality industry are in constant flux, with some emerging rapidly but fading quickly, while others become enduring elements shaping the hospitality future. The truth is - and kudos to the industry for this – the hospitality sector has proven itself to be highly adaptable and forward thinking, as proven through the COVID pandemic. However, certain trends are gaining popularity and are expected to continue growing in 2024, offering opportunities for businesses to enhance customer experiences. 

If you are looking to drive your business success in 2024, the below key trends and predicted changes could be the catalyst that assists you.

Group of diners clinking their wine glasses over dinner at their favourite restaurant

1. Increase in Food Delivery and Takeaway

If you have been out lately, you will have seen first-hand that restaurants are emptier than they used to be. It is not all doom and gloom, with more Australians increasingly opting for takeaway experiences, creating a different surge in demand. Some of this may be due to changing preferences and some to cost of living pressures. After all, if you save money on wine at a restaurant, or on getting a taxi, then you have more to spend on the food itself. 

Whilst takeaway does necessitate a change to operations to some extent, this shift presents an opportunity for restaurants who aren’t offering takeaway in their business to boost their sales in 2024.

In 2023, a notable 3.4 million Australians opted for online delivery platforms like Uber Eats, Doordash, Menu Log and more. Projections for 2024 estimate a substantial surge to 4 million users, marking an impressive 18% increase (Statista). 

If your restaurant currently does not offer takeaway and delivery services, now may be an opportune time to consider implementing these services. Assess the feasibility for your business and capitalise on the evolving preferences of consumers. in 2024 we expect to see more dedicated takeaway menus containing foods that travel well, ensuring when it arrives is just as tasty as it would be if they chose to dine in. 

2. Increase in Plant-Based Offerings at Restaurants

The surge in veganism, one of the fastest-growing lifestyle movements, cannot be ignored. With growing research to the health benefits it can provide, through to compelling arguments on how it can reduce food bills, plant-based foods are growing in popularity. Nowadays, nearly every restaurant is expected to feature at least one vegan option; overlooking this means missing out on this growing customer base. A study by Statista in Australia revealed that 42% of individuals reduced or eliminated their meat consumption in 2019. Within this group, 10% identified as vegan or vegetarian, 12% as meat reducers, and 20% as flexitarians. Given the significance of these percentages, it is crucial for establishments to explore the integration of innovative plant-based selections into their menus if they want to thrive, not just survive.

Our recommendation (outside looking in) is that restaurants undergo transformations to align their menus to some extent with the change in preferences of their diverse patrons; whether they follow a vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian lifestyle, have dietary restrictions due to allergies, or simply opt for a healthier and more sustainable choice.

Incorporating vegan options into your restaurant may seem overwhelming for some of you, however, it doesn't have to be. The simple addition of options such as vegan cheese, can open up a whole lot more variety for vegans. Consider what you could add to your already existing dishes, rather than focusing on what you need to take away. This ensures that customers aren't left with the only option of a sad salad on the menu.

non alcoholic cocktails cheering

3. Increase in Cocktails & Non-Alcoholic Drinks

Akin to the growth in vegan options to support a healthier lifestyle, there is a growing preference for non-alcoholic beverages (The Zero alcohol movement) and falls in the amount consumed by patrons in both restaurants and bars. In other words, patrons are either opting to not drink, or to drink less, but drink “better” by drinking crafted cocktails. 

With an increasing number of individuals choosing non-alcoholic options, venues need to start prioritising offering high-quality alternatives. Projections from Fine Food Australia suggest that the low and no-alcohol market is anticipated to experience a 16% growth in Australia in the year 2024.

Alongside the rise of non-alcoholic drinks, cocktails are also witnessing an increase, with more Instagrammable drinks becoming a consumer trend. Consumers are drinking less alcohol overall, opting for more sophisticated drinks and experiences like premium spirits and cocktails. According to studies the apparent consumption of beer and wine decreased, while spirits recorded a 19% increase from 1.8 litres of alcohol per capita in 2016–17 to 2.1 litres in 2019–20. These changes present opportunities for restaurants to include more non-alcoholic beverages and cocktails onto their drink's menu, to potentially bring in larger profits from their drink sales.  

4. Increased Popularity for Promotions

Pick up a paper and you will be hard pressed to not see an article talking about the cost of living pressures affecting Australians. From rising utility prices through to food price increases, people are becoming more discerning with their disposable income. What this means is customers will be seeking more deals and experiences at restaurants when dining out in 2024. The simple addition of a promotion can attract more customers to your venue; people who might otherwise not have visited.

You may want to consider promotions such as:

  • 2 for 1 drinks during happy hour
  • Free dessert when spending over $50 per person
  • A welcome drink on arrival for people celebrating a special event
  • 20% off the main meal during the restaurant's typical quiet times

These ideas are pretty run-of-the-mill, however, we expect to see these offers in 2024 become more creative and incorporate loyalty programs.

diners enjoying a meal at their table in a restaurant

5. Data-Driven Decisions 

Considering the trends mentioned above, each restaurant will be different in terms of their customer preferences, needs, and adaptations to current market trends. This is where data-driven decisions become crucial for your venue to determine which trends your customers truly want.

Understanding which promotions work best with your customers can help draw them in. Discovering which plant-based options are ordered the most enables you to advertise effectively to attract more plant-based diners. Understanding what meal combinations people order most can help you minimise waste. 

Data-driven decision-making is of increased importance, with restaurants relying more and more on their POS reporting systems to understand customer preferences better. Having a comprehensive reporting system like OrderMate offers is vital for determining what is working for your business. Many of our customers actually tell us that the reporting feature and oversight that OrderMate gives them is a benefit that they cannot place a true value on. 

"The reporting system that OrderMate offer are fantastic, they’re so easy to navigate through. I can be precise, or I can make it very generic to get exactly what I want.” - Mike McEnearney, Kitchen by Mike. 

The evolving landscape of the hospitality industry in 2024 presents unique challenges and opportunities. Contact our team today if you would like to discuss how any of OrderMate's hospitality technology can help elevate your business in 2024 and beyond. Stay ahead of the curve and make the most of these trends to ensure success!

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