The pandemic has highlighted the importance of high hygienic standards and good air quality. And Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) solutions represent a vital component to generate revenue for restaurants by filling up dining tables with customers who feel safe and confident. The fact is that customers who are uncomfortable and/or allergic to cleaning supplies, paints, insecticides, and other materials used in restaurants will not stay as long or spend as much money.
So, how can restaurants address these air quality issues and get more customers through their doors each night? Let’s delve a little deeper.
What Makes Customers Happy?
One design solution that has really helped during the pandemic—encompassing the entire range from quick service to fine dining—is open-kitchen restaurants that have “nothing to hide." They have been selected by a growing number of diners who are conscious of cleanliness, safety, and health.
The fact is that In the future guests will take a much more proactive approach in choosing where they will go based on the IAQ. Restaurants can experiment through a broad range of air ventilation and filtration techniques, enabling the restaurant industry to usher in a better relationship with indoor air, with people able to judge where they dine based on the quality and transparency of real-time readings.
Measures and Use Cases
One clearcut example of catering to customers’ demands comes from Sierra Mar restaurant in California. They now have IAQ features sprinkled throughout their restaurant. These include 18 tabletop mini-purifiers, ten HEPA air purifiers, an upgraded heating and air conditioning system, and four sensors measuring the air quality in real-time.
The Post Ranch Inn, a high-end resort in California, has installed indoor air quality monitors throughout their dining room to track conditions in real-time and display relevant information for the customers. This provides peace of mind and allows them to proactively manage and optimize air quality as needed to help reduce risk and ensure the healthiest possible air environment. Crucially, they also display the restaurant’s air quality updates on its website, so diners can see for themselves that the air quality is good before deciding whether to order take out or commit to an in-person visit. This is especially important for potential clients prone to allergies, given that the region has been clouded by recurrent wildfires in 2020 and 2021.
Other useful restaurant-related IoT technologies include advanced automated temperature sensors, which are directly placed, wire-free, into refrigeration units to ensure accurate temperature readings. The temperature probes are not just for monitoring, they're installed to prevent food spoilage by alerting if the temperature rises above a safe level. This can save a restaurant thousands of dollars by ensuring produce is not wasted.
Is There ROI for These Measures?
You could be forgiven for reading these measures and thinking: “well, how do restaurants actually benefit financially from improved air quality?” Sierra Mar measured the payback on their investment as just three days, based solely on incremental food and beverage spending in the restaurant. Many guests, previously wary of COVID-19, were immediately persuaded to abandon takeaways and room service meals at the lodge, instead favoring luxury meals in the dining room with added appetizers and drinks they would not have ordered on takeout.
Lastly, with these measures, service staff can feel safer. Restaurants can increase employee satisfaction during the most competitive environment on record for the restaurant industry. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that customers will feel even more motivated to dine out, provided that the air quality is high. Rather than install countless different filters and systems in a restaurant, owners should consider what is suitable for their building, and invest within their means.