Service Monitor recently hosted an online focus group with a cross section of frequent pub and restaurant guests to understand their views on how COVID-19 will impact the hospitality sector.

The group split into three distinct groups when it came to the question of returning to pubs & restaurants upon re-opening:

  • There is a small top tier of people who will go to a venue regardless of what anti-Covid measures have been implemented; they are very keen to get back and don’t care about the potential risk as they have no health issues.
  • The majority is middle tier who want to see all the social distancing and sanitisation measures overtly put in place - then they will be comfortable to return.
  • There is a small bottom tier of people who are not planning to visit regardless of the safety measures introduced; this group mainly includes more at risk individuals and people living with with young / older family. They have re-discovered their own garden, long lost cooking skills and see no need to put themselves at risk ‘for a beer I can easily enjoy in the garden’. They would need a lot of reassurance to persuade them to return.

The additional takeaways from our focus group:

  • Regardless of whatever pubs and restaurants put in place, the middle and bottom tier they will stay away until they see a consistent and significant drop in the infection / death rate. Whatever guarantees or promises are in place, customers won’t go until they feel safer.
  • The main issue for customers is the fear of being too close to other people – no matter how many sanitising stations are deployed. To this end, they place a huge emphasis on management to control their guests – both in terms of numbers and their behaviour.
  • There is a lot of scepticism surrounding what the pub atmosphere will feel like, given the implementation of all the distancing, cleansing, masks, gloves and plexiglass screens measures. The sentiment of the focus group echoed “I don’t particularly relish being served by someone in a hazmat suit”.

You can read more about our Online Focus Groups here or contact us and see how we can help your business.