What your customers want from your next renovation

by Sam Elliott.

This article by Sam Elliott resonates with us, as we’ve spent the past 20 years renovating hotels, bars, restaurants and clubs. While the director, Ken Ross, has been in the hotel industry for 40 years …

Soft renovations (new finishes, carpet, paint, lights, wall treatments, etc.) are an essential part of keeping your venue looking modern, fresh and appealing to your patrons. Whilst major renovations may only be affordable every 5-6 years, venues should be engaging in soft refurbishments in different outlets almost constantly to maintain relevance.

But are your renovations on trend and being completed in the most effective manner in terms of cost, quality and suiting your clientele? Researching your market and patrons is the most beneficial way to get the most out of your renovations. But where to start?

A venue wishing to make well-informed decisions based on fact, rather than on the basis of ‘I reckon’ or just to the ‘same old’, may wish to ask these three questions as a foundation of their background research.

  1. What does your market look like?

More often than not, renovations are completed as a “catch up” to the standard of a local competitor. Knowing your market well and what your competitors are offering can assist in getting ahead of the game and positioning your venue as the market leader rather than following the local trend. Remember your competitors are not just other clubs, it is the local Hotel, pub or other family entertainment centre. It’s also important in the decision-making process to not saturate the market with a similar offer, giving the opportunity to position your venue as a unique offering with a competitive edge in the market. Don’t limit yourself to just local competitors, branch out to the best bars in the state, or why stop there? If your bar is looking tired and you are looking for inspiration, I would always suggest going to venues that are doing it well. Take ideas from clubs, pubs, cafés, restaurants and boutique bars and determine if the things that make them a stand out would work in your venue. But equally important is to look at venues that aren’t performing well, ask the question why aren’t they performing and ensure not to make a similar mistake in your renovations.

  1. What do your patrons say?

Focus groups and surveys of your patrons offer great insights into what your consumer market considers as the most valued areas of the venue. However, the best results come from asking the right questions. A patron survey would hope to gain insights to not only the various demographic profiles of your patrons but also their psychographic behaviours, where the most popular areas of your venue are and what needs immediate attention, what is the general spend per visit and in each area, visitation frequency of your patrons and what it would take to increase their visitation to your venue rather than your competitors. The right questions asked appropriately provide valued feedback from a large percentage of your patronage, however, valued feedback can also be a result of focus groups. While not as large scale, focus groups serve as a free-flowing forum that generates ideas that are sometimes outside the box which, at a management/board level, had not been previously considered.

  1. Does the proposed renovation suit your future market and patrons?

What does your local market look like now and what will it look like in 5 or 10 years time? A renovation is not a small process to go through and understanding the market forecasts and predictions will have significant influence in the decision-making process. Understanding the emerging markets in your area can greatly assist in the future direction of your venue, sometimes changing the priorities of any planned renovations.

The greatest value of conducting this research is the process of bringing it all together, making sense of the information and applying this knowledge to your venue which allows for a more informed decision to benefit your patrons and the future of your venue. The team at DWS can assist in providing insights into gaming and food and beverage trends offering you a sound understanding of current and future developments that will make your decision-making process that much easier.

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