Katy Moses, of KAM Media, on poor hospitality experiences and why we need to focus more on local, good value propositions.

Katy KAM Media
Katy Moses, managing director of KAM Media

Last week I managed a couple of days out in Sussex in Elvis the motorhome. On one day, a friend and I stopped off at a highly-recommended restaurant for lunch. It was 1.50pm and we were told the kitchen stopped serving at 2pm. We offered to order quickly. We were turned away. For the record there were still many people eating, and there were also many spare tables.

We then went to a local (branded) pub. I’ll leave them to be anonymous, but the whole experience can only be summed up as mediocre. Pizzas (and anything that can be deep fried) were their speciality, so that’s what we ordered. After an hour, a pre-made, pre-frozen, burnt option was put down in front of us, with no cutlery and no free drink that was promised on the menu. Apparently the staff couldnt get the offer to work on the tills and didn’t want to deal with the wrath of their manager if the stock take was down. Luckily the weather was good, so we ate at a table outside surrounded by the pungent smell of dirty ashtrays that had been rained on in the night.

What’s my point? My point is that mediocrity right now is simply not an option. Laziness is not an option. We need to be fighting for every penny, every customer, every drink and meal out there.

We can sometimes be a little focused, as an industry, on all the good players — the great pub companies, the brilliant multiple operators, the perfectly presented QSRs, the gastro pubs and cool bars — but there’s a whole other world out there that sits at the affordable end of the market. The value proposition. I guess my point is that just because it’s a ‘value’ proposition, it doesn’t need to be rubbish. Look at grocery retail — Aldi, Lidl — they sit at the value end of what’s on offer, but you won’t see mediocrity in their stores. They’re still providing the best quality products at the price points that work for their audience.

The majority of people in the UK don’t have a ‘posh’ pub/restaurant/bar as their local (remember that 29% of people we spoke to as part of our research with Zonal, Plan to Plate 2, said that they choose where they eat/drink out ‘because it’s local’). They have a value community local, they have an affordable branded pub, they have a chain restaurant. These places need our focus and attention as much as the high-end operators. 

If you have been to any value-focused pubs, bars, or restaurants recently, and had a great experience, please do let me know. I’m keen to put some focus on this area in some upcoming research. Keep your eyes peeled!

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