The hospitality and tourism industries are notoriously tricky to excel in. Many factors are required to make up a successful business; from offering in food, beverages, customer service, venue ambience, and getting the overall concept right. But there is one element that is critical to a venue success, and that is focusing on the customer; what they want, what they require, and what the demand is in the market you are operating in.
You may go into running a venue with lofty ideals and dreams to do it this way or that way. You may have always wanted to open a Mexican restaurant for example, but if the market is not ready for it, has an oversupply of what you want to offer, or you are failing to listen to what your customer wants you will struggle to have a successful business.
I recently had a discussion with someone looking to start up a venue. They had some pretty definite ideas on what they wanted to offer that were at odds with what the market, and indeed the customers in that market would be looking for. My response was, “what about the customer?” They said, “well if the customer likes my concept, they’ll dine with us, if they don’t they won’t and that’s the way it is”.
I found this a little bit confronting, to say the least, because I have been brought up with a school of thought that you should try to meet customers’ expectations and provide them with a great experience. There is no doubt that you need a strong concept and brand, and you can’t be all things to all people, but listening to the market and your customers should be a key business objective for every venue in the service industry.
Customers are at the heart of the industry, and without them, your doors won’t stay open long. So, you’d better consider the expectations of the experience customers want to have in your venue because that is exactly what they’re paying for. Having a dream of what you want a venue to be is one thing, but if it doesn’t resonate with your customers, you will need to adapt or you’ll go broke.
Customers will be your most significant source of learning and feedback for what is working and what is not. Listen to them, nurture a feedback culture in your venue, and step aside from your ego occasionally and see things from the customer’s perspective instead of yours, it will truly help you have a better business. Seems so simple to just see it from a customer’s perspective, right?!
You would think so, but that is often not what happens.
Just my two cents,
Love to hear your thoughts, KB
Kate Bickford MD & Owner - BK AGENCY: