Half of european restaurants going to close? – The 20th European Food Service Summit in a nutshell

The world is changing. In search for security, we increasingly fall into simple tribalisme, a “them against us” thinking. What does this mean for the restaurant industry, where hospitality and open-mindedness are fundamental? How can you stay successful? We explored these  elements at the GDI's European Food Service Summit.

Mueller EFSS 2020

The world we live in is an uncertain one. Tribalism provides a sense of security, as people feel they belong to a group. The restaurant industry depends on openness to the foreign, the unknown. It would be fatal to become complacent Instead, we need new approaches and new ideas to  advance. First of all, there is no secret formula for success. But there are important empirical values, such as hearing customer opinions or following a clear strategy. Transparently communicated values and clear goals are also important. And fast, uncomplicated processes that ensure customers never feel they are wasting their time are fundamental.

Particularly important is the factor of staff. The people you hire and train today are part of the company's future. It is not enough anymore to just teach the procedures for daily work. A holistic approach is required. Millennials want to be provided with information that goes beyond job-specific knowledge. Allowing them to learn at their own pace and relying on transparent interaction, trusting them, and giving them responsibility ultimately leads to motivated employees. 

They are needed in order to offer demanding and highly informed customers what they expect from a restaurant visit: a unique experience at the highest level of quality. Customers need a reason to  eat out. The objective of the restaurant industry, even in times of booming delivery business, must be to get people off  their sofas. They have to feel the quality of experience in a restaurant is much higher than at home. 

At the same time, it is obvious that gastronomy today no longer works without delivery service. Even if delivery remains  a cost item for all businesses, it is an absolute must. Customers want it, and they want it free of charge. Over the next ten years, the restaurant industry will lose billions as a result. This could mean that between a third and a half of all gastronomy businesses in Europe will have to close. Therefore, we have to find new ways to make delivery services profitable, for example by monetising customer data. The major delivery players are already taking this approach today. 

Taking on these challenges requires skill.Gastronomers must stop downplaying their activities and declare them as soft tech, because  gastronomy is high-tech and has an important social function. Because its nature involves embracing the foreign or unknown, the restaurant industry forms an antipole of the growing tribal thinking and encourages growth and human connection.

This text is based on a summary presented by Christopher Muller, Professor at Boston University and Hosting Partner of the European Foodservice Summit, at the end of the conference on 24 and 25 September 2019.