Australians are overwhelmingly in favour of providing proof of vaccination to enter a hospitality venue when restrictions ease, according to research released by SevenRooms, a guest experience and retention platform for the hospitality industry.
Proof of vaccination has become one of the defining issues around the impending re-openings in New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT. Nationwide, 65 percent of Australians agree or strongly agree that customers should be required to show proof of vaccination if a venue requested it upon booking or arrival. One in five disagreed, while 14 percent were unsure.
Over the last three months, NSW, VIC and ACT have experienced harsher lockdowns than the rest of the country. As a result, diners in each state were more in favour of sharing proof of vaccination to enter a venue. in ACT, 89% of diners agreed or strongly agreed, followed by NSW (74%), VIC (63%), QLD (60%) and WA and SA (both 58%). Meanwhile, younger demographics of Australians were less supportive. Only 54% of those aged 18-34 agreed or strongly agreed, compared to 72% of 55-64-year-olds, and over three-quarters (79%) of Australians aged 65 and over.
Then vs Now: How have demands changed?
SevenRooms’ research sought to understand what consumers want from bars, restaurants, cafes and other hospitality venues when restrictions ease, and how those demands and expectations differ from pre-pandemic.
For Aussies, the most important factors when choosing a venue pre-pandemic were the quality of food (85%) and location (66%).
Unsurprisingly, those figures have dropped to 77% and 61% respectively, while there has been a significant increase in diners choosing venues based on health and safety and technology.
Pre-pandemic, only 35% said health and safety was a key consideration compared to the current 60%, and the importance of technology has nearly tripled from just 8% pre-pandemic to 22%.
The vast majority (67%) felt that as a result of the pandemic, the hospitality industry now provides safer, more technologically advanced experiences. QR codes, virtual menus, mobile ordering and payments, and online reservations services have become common – and in some instances mandatory – in many bars, restaurants and cafes across Australia. These features have become not only accepted but popular parts of the dining experience. Online reservation services are the most popular post-pandemic feature for 53 percent of Aussies, followed by virtual menu and payments (48%) and QR codes to check-in for a reservation (38%).
When asked about the factors that would motivate them to revisit a restaurant, almost two in three (59%) said a ‘safe and memorable experience’ was an important factor. Comparatively, almost half (42%) said if their overall dining experience wasn’t memorable or special, it could prevent them from revisiting a venue again entirely. Almost half (43%) of guests would be willing to share their personal information if it meant they’d receive an enhanced customer experience.
“Few industries have been harder hit by the pandemic than hospitality, but none have demonstrated more resilience, adaptability and dynamism,” said Paul Hadida, SevenRooms' general manager.
“After more than 18 months of uncertainty, there’s genuine optimism that we’ll soon be back to ‘normal’ and enjoying the dining experiences that we’ve dearly missed for so long. Factors like location and the quality of food and drink remain paramount for diners in the new era of hospitality, but our research shows that Aussies are increasingly unwilling to compromise on important pieces of their experience, like health and safety and technology."
“Technology was growing in importance before the pandemic, but now it’s an absolute necessity to provide the safe, meaningful and memorable experiences that guests today demand. When it comes to the quality and breadth of bars, restaurants and cafes, few markets can match Australia. This research is an important insight into the minds of diners today, what they expect from businesses, and how Australia can continue enhancing its reputation as one of the food and drink capitals of the world.”
Different Sentiments Across States and Demographics
Half (54%) of Australians said that when restrictions ease they will dine out the same amount as before, while 23 percent will dine out more than pre-pandemic, and another 23 percent less than. However, in many respects, young Australians have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and they’re eager to make up for lost time. One in three (36%) will dine out more than before the pandemic — higher than the 23 percent national average. Twice as many aged 65 and over will dine out less than before (26%) compared to more than (13%).