Awareness of hospitality trends important for small businesses

New trends may impact hospitality operators.
New trends may impact hospitality operators.

For hospitality operators, keeping abreast of latest trends and influences on the way people search for products or services is of paramount concern.

In a competitive market - and with the global financial crisis' impact on spending habits in recent times - it has become increasingly crucial for small businesses to stand out from the crowd in any way possible.
And while it may not be feasible for bars, clubs, cafes, restaurants, equipment suppliers and budding hospitality entrepreneurs to change the way they operate every time a new idea gains popularity, it nevertheless remains important to be aware of what other brands are doing.
Marketing magazine recently outlined its top ten Australian hospitality and retail trends for 2012, raising some interesting concepts for business managers to consider.
Heading the list was the pop-up shop, bar, restaurant or cafe, which take advantage of an otherwise unused space and have the ability to cash in on the 'festival vibe' created by a clearly advertised limited timeframe.
The publication cited the temporary Broadsheet Bar at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival as a typical example of a top-up business in action.
Deakin graduate school of business retail industry fellow Steve Ogden-Barnes recently told Fairfax Media that while pop-up shops have existed for close to a decade in some form, pop-up billboards appear to be the next big thing.
"An interactive billboard is a very interesting idea because it gets people to engage in the brand even though they are not in the store or at their PC," he said.
"If you are walking past and you see something you like the look of, whether it is limited promotion, or like with catch of the day where quantities are running out, you could tailor it to your impulse buyer."
Another boom concept according to Marketing is the food truck. 
"The last few years have seen the ignition of a veritable food truck craze. From burgers to tacos to gourmet hot dogs, all the way down the palate to cupcakes," it asserted.
"Melbourne has led the way over the last year or two, but word on the street in Sydney is that food trucks will very soon be cruising them too."
Perhaps the most noteworthy trend for existing hospitality business owners and managers is social dining groups.
The Social Dinner Club, for example, brings people together for regular meetings with fellow foodies to try a variety of exotic cuisines.
"The benefits extend to business owners too," the Marketing article stated.
"The Social Dinner Club gets bums on seats from people who may never have set foot in your restaurant."