News Feature | October 16, 2017

Restaurant And Hospitality News – October 16, 2017

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

In news this week, restaurants need to tap into potential online revenue from busy parents; while the restaurant and hospitality industries in Florida and Texas are feeling the bite of hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Report Finds Busy Parents An Untapped Online Revenue Source For Restaurants

A new report from orderTalk has found that busy parents love the convenience of ordering food online, making them an untapped online revenue source for restaurants. The study found that parents with children under the age of 18 at home are more likely to order takeout at least once a month  than those without children under the age of 18 at home  (89 percent versus 60 percent). And, the report found, those parents with kids at home are 21 percent more likely to use an app or website to order food than those without children at home, with 46 percent saying that they used digital ordering because it’s easier. In fact, 67 percent prefer digital ordering to ordering over the phone to guarantee that their order is correct, and 42 percent said they have used a smartphone to place a takeout order.

Parents juggle many daily responsibilities, so convenience and finding ways to make life easier is important to them,” said orderTalk CEO Patrick Eldon. “A user friendly online ordering system is a win for them and also allows restaurants to maximize their potential revenue with this demographic.”

 The research report contains the results of a 2017 online survey of 2,246 adults conducted by Harris Poll. The survey statistics revealed that 67 percent of parents agree that they wish it were easier to order takeout digitally. The study also reported that parents are more likely to have abandoned a digital order than non-parents (69 percent versus 59 percent). The most common reason given was that the website/mobile app was not functioning properly.

 “In today’s society, having an online presence doesn’t set restaurants apart like it did years ago,” said Eldon. “Consumer expectations and demand have evolved over time and to keep ahead of the competition, restaurants must offer easy-to-use online ordering platforms that meet those needs.” 

105,000 Restaurant Jobs Blown Away By Hurricanes In September

In the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, some 105,000 jobs in restaurants and bars were shed, signaling serious damage to Florida’s tourism industry, Long Island Business News reported. Approximately 1.5 million people were unable to work last month due to the weather, according to a government report, the highest number in 20 years.  Despite these catastrophic drops in employment, however, hiring is expected to rebound in the coming months as companies reopen and bring back workers, The Inquirer reported.

One chain that was seriously affected by Harvey was Smoothie King, a 900-store chain based near New Orleans. Dan Harmon, chief operating officer, told The Inquirer that the chain was forced to temporarily close 66 stores in the Houston area and that the storms disrupted the company's end-of-summer hiring. August and September typically sees the company hiring new employees to replace college workers who return to school. This year, that process was delayed in Florida and Texas.

"We weren't able to do our normal hiring spree that we usually do going into the fall," Harmon said.

And expansion plans also saw an impact. The company opened 65 stores nationwide in the July-September quarter and had plans to open four more, but they were damaged while under construction. Each Smoothie King employs about 15 hourly workers and two to three managers.

According to the New York Times, September’s monumental job loss in the restaurant and hospitality sector marked the first net loss of jobs in the industry since 2012.

Most major hotel markets in Florida also logically experienced dramatic performance declines ahead of Irma’s landfall, as evacuations were put into effect. Chad Church, STR’s vice president of client services, explained, “More than a quarter of Florida’s population was under an evacuation order, so the dramatic shifts in hotel performance are not surprising.” Hurricane recovery in both Texas and Florida will also have an impact on hotel demand and performance, as rooms are booked for relief workers, volunteers, government employees, insurance adjustors, displaced residents, and others, Church noted.