According to information conducted by Elliot’s agency, millennials now make up the largest social demographic of the UK. They love to eat out regularly, with over half of them doing so at least once a week and a third at least three times a week. A third of millennials also spend at least £100 a month on food outside of their home, meaning that about 50% of the eating-out occurring in the UK can be attributed to those aged 18-34.

Professor Ken Roberts has stated that technological advances, particularly laptops and the internet, are behind the increase in restaurants and cafes on the high street, and noted that the demographic of who goes out has changed. In addition to the rising number of young single people postponing marriage and parenthood, there has also been a rise in the student population. Professor Roberts also added that older people tend to spend their money on holidays, top restaurants, and big events like theatre weekends to London, whereas younger people are more likely to go out in the evenings for meals. Considering this new eating-out demographic, it’s clear that for a restaurant or bar owner, grabbing the attention of millennials and securing their business is the key to future success.

With a wealth of  technology and resources available to them, millennials are also seeking out reviews and information on restaurants before choosing where to eat: third party review sites such as TripAdvisor and various social media platforms play a huge part in influencing their choices. Facebook is also now a key platform for driving reviews and people ‘checking in,’ as 28% of millennials choose a restaurant or bar based on social media and recommendations. As you might have guessed, many of these review checks happen on mobile devices, and with over 80% of population in possession of a smart phone and a daily average usage figure of 2.6 hours, it’s clear why mobile advertising is booming. To give you some perspective, in 2016, £2.6 billion was spent on mobile advertising and 65% of visits to retails sites were on a phone or tablet. Restaurants, cafes, and bars hoping to appeal to a new review-seeking, social loving demographic will need to also have a strong, positive online presence with clear, effective, and easy to find branding. (This info was presented by Andrew Gallagher – Group Marketing Director at Cote Brasserie).

Undoubtedly, social media has revolutionized the way restaurants market their businesses, meaning the priority for engagement has surpassed discounting. Paired with the advances in mobile technology, restaurants can now use social to easily reach their targeted demographic directly through smartphones. The ever increasing usage of social media has also created a level playing field for businesses to market themselves. For example, smaller venues can see huge success as a result of their video(s) going viral and gaining millions of views. All in all, money is no longer the key to success; engagement is.

So as a bar, cafe, or restaurant, how can you ensure that you engage with your customers? If they’re only stopping in for a quick drink or coffee, how can you lengthen their stay, boost their loyalty, and increase their spend? Believe it or not, the answer is incredibly simple: WiFi. Research from BT revealed that 87% of consumers have accessed the internet while in restaurants, pubs, and bars to check social media or read the latest news. An iGR report also found that over 60% of customers spent more time on premise after they installed WiFi, with 50% cent spending more money. With solutions like Purple, businesses can tap into these lucrative trends and see the same (if not more) success. Purple has a number of unique and powerful features that allow you to provide a secure, clearly branded WiFi service. You can create bespoke marketing campaigns that are tailored to your customers (which are far more effective than catch-all leaflets and emails), and by offering a social login method to users, Purple can collate valuable user data around age, gender, likes, location, frequently visited establishments, and so on. In addition to getting you a ‘Like’ or a follow, you can also trigger customized SMS messages, emails, and adverts based on this information which are relevant to the end user.

There’s no doubt about it – engaging with customers through guest WiFi is incredibly effective. But don’t take our word for it – plenty of bars and restaurants already benefiting from Purple, such as Pizza Express UAE. After only one month of having Purple installed in their venues, PE saw a 52% increase in Facebook page likes, a 181% increase in page impressions, a substantial increase in follower numbers on both Twitter and Instagram, and have anticipated Facebook growth of 294% within the first three months. By using our solution, Pizza Express has been able to get ahead of the competition – they’ve tapped into the millennial trend of dining out, strengthened their brand identity, and have drastically improved their marketing efforts to secure future revenue.

Ultimately, the hospitality industry and its target market has changed – restaurants, bars, and brands in the industry will have to up their technology game to keep up.