How Your Restaurant Can Get a Piece of the Experience Economy

Have you noticed that dining out isn’t just about dining anymore?

Restaurants have been pairing meals and activities for a while, with trivia nights and paint nights, but recent trends have taken it to a whole new level: ax-throwing bars, cat cafes, beer yoga, and more.

What’s behind the push to enjoy a meal and an activity? A combination of the experience economy and having an Instagrammable life. 78 percent of millennials said they would rather spend money on an experience or event than buying material things.

How can your restaurant participate in the experience economy? Here are three suggestions from successful venues:

Think Differently About How to Serve Food
Fogo de Chão offers an authentic Brazilian experience to their customers. Servers take skewers of meat cooked over an open fire table to table so that customers get to taste a little of everything on the menu.

If you want to make a small change to see if the experience economy will work for your restaurant. Think about how to make something routine into something interesting and memorable. Fogo de Chão, a Brazilian steakhouse brand with 50 worldwide locations, lets their guests participate in Brazilian tradition instead of the usual service they may find at a steakhouse. Their meat is grilled over an open flame, and their servers continuously walk the restaurant floor with the skewers, slicing servings on the spot. Their market table offers a variety of sides and charcuterie that guests can choose from.

Every Fogo de Chão customer gets a chance to sample a little of everything.

Share What You Do and How You Do It

Your restaurant is in business because you and your staff have a particular set of skills that the average patron doesn’t and that’s why they pay to come to your venue. Why not teach others what you know and share your knowledge?

City Winery’s seven locations have frequent events that give customers a chance to improve their knowledge of wine. You can learn more about wine types or beverages from a particular region at their wine tastings, or learn how to pair wine with food at their wine dinners. City Winery also makes its own wine and offers customers a chance to create their own blend through their winemaking program.

Partner with a Business to Offer Events
Restaurants don’t have to go it alone when they offer experiences. Oskar Blues Brewery’s locations partner with trivia companies and local businesses to add something extra for their customers.

We get it – restaurant professionals work non-stop, and don’t often have time to dedicate to adding something new to their venue. Fortunately, there’s a ton of businesses that have been created as a response to the experience economy that you can hire to run events that attract customers.

Oskar Blues Brewery’s four locations partner with companies that run trivia nights, local fitness studios that offer yoga classes, community organizations that host farmer’s markets, and animal shelters that hold charity and pet adoption events.

Spread the Word about Your Experience and Help Your Customers Make Memories

If you’ve introduced an experience at your restaurant, you need to make sure that everyone knows about it. Publicise your experience in your email marketing and on your social media accounts. Add it to your events calendar on your website. Take advantage of services like Airbnb Experiences and Facebook Events to list your offerings, or reach out to local Meetup groups to hold a meetup focused on your experiences.

Once your experiences go public, the next step is to encourage your customers to spread the word. Encourage participants to take photos at your venue and post them online – 60 percent of millennials have shared an experience on social media in the last year. As more people participate in your experiences, you’ll help to grow a community that will keep the word of mouth going and promote return visits.