At-table ordering solution me&u has released a report entitled ‘Pubs, Pints & Predictions: Hospitality Ten Years On’ which collates the findings of more than 5000 pub-goers across Australia, the UK and the US, and what they expect from hospitality venues in the near future.

In partnership with YouGov, and a me&u interview panel of industry experts throughout Australia, the UK and US, the report predicts what the pub of the future will look like and the trends that will redefine what it means to go out.

“With Australia’s hospitality sector one of the most heavily affected in the world, this has and is still impacting staffing, service and customer experience when it comes to going out. The report looks to explore the key themes and developments, uncovering the pub of the future to arm our allies, your favorite venues, with the trends that can help them future proof their offering, and understand their customer a little better,” states me&u global CEO Katrina Barry.

“For pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants globally, we have to acknowledge that our customer has changed, and will change again; and we have to be ready, willing and able to arm ourselves with the right tools, partners and technologies to keep up. Businesses will need to be creative, to be brave, to try new things whilst remaining agile and nimble within the market.”

The findings of the research blend the desire for the implementation of smart tech within venues, while also retaining the humanity and hospitality as the beating heart of the venue.

Key findings include:

  • 80% of Aussies who visit venues expect smart technology to be part of most venues in the near future
  • Heart remains at the forefront of hospitality, with 85% agreeing that while technology can be useful, venues are all about people and human interactions
  • More than half (53%) of Aussies want to be able to visit a venue in the metaverse to see what it is like before visiting it in real life
  • Pubs and bars play a changing role, with 78% looking for venues to adapt to different needs across the day or week including offering flexible ‘work from venue’ options and changeable day-to-night or family facilities
  • 44% of customers want to visit pubs or restaurants which cater for the whole family, not just night-time drinking
  • 90% of customers prefer venues that cater for all budgets with good value options
  • 69% of customers say events and activities play a role in deciding which venues to visit.

A decrease in alcoholic consumption

Most surprising of the findings was the extent of the move towards reducing alcoholic consumption. While it’s a trend that has been on the rise for some time, the results showed just how serious the wider public is about the reduction in alcoholic intake.

Although drinking in pubs and bars is far from extinction, 30 per cent of the people surveyed expect to be drinking less in five years’ time, while 22 per cent are likely to give up drinking alcohol altogether. Forty per cent of Aussies say they’re happy to visit alcohol-free venues, with a similar number expecting venues to have a good range of alcohol-free options.

A technological acceleration

Barry says that covid was the impetus to make a lot of pubs start to evolve their offer quicker than ever before, and now that customers have had a taste of a newer pub offer, that acceleration will continue as consumers demand it.

“What took 30 years in terms of evolution previously has only taken two. So the pub of the future that we were imagining three years ago is actually here today, because that progress has accelerated so quickly.”

As such, 80 per cent of respondents wanted to see smart technology in pubs, including at-table ordering and venue apps and platforms. Respondents also expected to be able to use cryptocurrency to pay for their meals and drinks in a pub, while 60 per cent of millennials said that being able to preview a venue in the metaverse beforehand would make them more likely to visit the venue in real life if it appealed to them.

Barry said that while all of this might seem a long way off or be met with some resistance, in fact operators who don’t start implementing some of these technological advancements now will be left behind.

“It can be quite overwhelming for one of the world’s oldest industries, which is based on humanity and connection and banter. When I think about the digital transformation and technological innovation it can conjure up equal parts excitement and trepidation. I think the reality is that we’re already here, the future is not around the corner, we’re in an environment now where consumers are demanding this.

The CEO said that technology can take over menial tasks, so that pub staff can focus on the hospitality aspect of a pub offer.

“Ultimately we talk about our job at me&u is to blend great technology with great humanity. And it turns out you can have more connection with your customers when you focus on banter and good old-fashioned human connection.”

For Barry, the key takeaway she hopes pub and bar operators will take from the findings is that now is the time to start looking at how your venue can evolve to meet the demands of savvy consumers who know what they want and are spoilt for choice.

“The future is now. Technology and hospitality is now. Owners and operators of pubs and bars of the future will listen to their customers and respond to what their desires are, and that ultimately means evolving.”

A further breakdown of the report’s key findings will be found in the September issue of Australian Hotelier, published soon.

Katrina Barry, global CEO of me&u

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1 Comment

  1. I wish that pretentious newspaper foodie journalists had never sunk their fangs into pubs. ‘Gastropub’ is an oxymoron. I am eating my way around Australian pub bistros, after starting with pub counter lunches (a cheap and quick option, all but vanished). I hate poker machines and noise masqerading as music. I love authentic architecture and sympathetic restorations, and hate overmodernised interiors: no more stylish than USA fast-food joints. A good pub has a set of history photos on display.

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