Pubs, Pints & Predictions: Hospitality Ten Years On

An extensive white paper that gazes into what hospitality will look like in ten years time. Join us as we uncover what the pub of 2032 will look like and the trends that will redefine what it means to go out.

There is no better feeling than celebrating good times around pub tables and across bar counters with family, friends and loved ones. Today, the way we interact with hospitality venues has changed. In partnership with YouGov, and an interview panel of industry experts throughout Australia, the UK and US, me&u has uncovered what the pub of 2032 will look like and the trends that will redefine what it means to go out. 

The report explores the changing role of hospitality venues and the evolution of connected customers, inspiring ways in which to future proof hospitality hotspots. Built by hospitality for hospitality, me&u’s future-gazing tour of trends looks to help support your much-loved venues as we continue to emerge from challenging times and beyond, helping you prop up the bar on-demand for years to come. 

“Hospitality went through 10 years of evolution within two years of the pandemic in terms of technology adoption rates. It pushed  businesses in the hospitality industry to turn into technology.” – Ira Vouk, Author of ‘Hospitality 2.0’

Top findings for the hospitality industry:

  • 80% of Australian consumers expect smart technology to be part of most venues in the near future
  • More than half of Aussies want to explore their favourite in-venue metaverse experiences
  • Heart remains at the forefront of hospitality, with 85% agreeing that while technology can be useful, venues are and should always be about people and human interactions
  • Are we a nation of ‘Hospitality Ghosters’? 25% of Australians are likely to no-show at some of their hospo bookings
  • Pubs play a changing role, with 78% looking for flexible ‘work from venue’ options and changeable day-to-night or family facilities
  • Who knew sobriety could be so sexy? Four in ten state that in the future they will be happy to visit a venue that is completely alcohol free, with 30% drinking less in the future, and 22% expecting to give up alcohol for good in the next five years

“Audiences are now used to choice and control. Welcome to generation 'on-demand'. The mistake for Australian venues would be to settle for a rebuilding mindset, when a reforging one is needed. This is an opportunity to think differently.” – Michael Rodrigues - 24-Hour Economy Commissioner, NSW Government 

Trends at a glance:

Our phones are smart, our homes are smart, but what about venues? 

me&u’s Hospitality Trends report showed that customers are expecting to see smart technology as a factor in future (80%), with customers keen for tech to bring the end to the hassle of ordering, and 57% of Aussies agreeing that they would use an app or tech platform that makes the process of ordering easier. However, most importantly, 85% of Aussies agree that technology is useful, but hospitality remains all about people and human interaction.

Digital dining, virtual venues, and cyber catch ups.

60% of Millennials say being able to visit a venue in the metaverse first to see what it is like before visiting it in real life appeals to them. In the future we might see an increase in conceptual meta-events, and venues taking their diners (virtually) to the farm where their food came from - helping tell local sourcing stories. We could even be virtually meeting the people who crushed the grapes used in the wine we’re drinking.

From ping pong to darts, has the pub evolved beyond the drinking hole?

Drinking will no longer be the main attraction on a night out according to me&u’s Hospitality Trends report. Hyper-specific but flexible venues are flagged as the way forward. Whether acting as a space for a community meeting centre, a hub for parents to meet up for coffee, or offering a working space away from home, 79% of customers are expecting pubs to adapt to different needs across the week. 44% also want to visit venues which cater for the whole family, not just drinking.

Are we still just going out for the sake of it? 

Although 87% of Aussies are flocking back to the hospitality industry, findings showed that 89% of Aussies have changed their night-out habits in recent years. People are starting and finishing their nights earlier (37%) and less willing to stand in long queues (48%). What’s more, many have started to research their nights out in advance (43%). In future we can anticipate Aussies to be less likely to bar hop, with 44% of those asked preferring to stay in one venue and using their nights out to spend more quality time with friends and family (41%).

Will non-alcoholic beverages be the hot new drink on tap?

While Aussies found a new passion for making margaritas on the couch in 2020, me&u findings show Aussies to have turned over a new leaf for 2021 by being more mindful about drinking occasions with sober-curious and tee-totallers on the rise. Although pub lunches and boozy brunches are far from extinction, 30% expect to be drinking less in five years’ time, whilst 22% are likely to give up drinking alcohol altogether. 40% 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. 

Hospitality’s pathway to net positive

The report found that while consumers are taking the charge to live eco-consciously, venues should be more aware of their own waste. 75% of customers think hospitality venues produce a worrying amount of waste from disposable items and 82% are concerned about the industry’s food waste, wanting the industry to act on both issues. Whilst 77% of Aussies expect to see their go-to venues contributing to the local economy by sourcing food and drink locally, giving back as an organisation was also high on the agenda. The majority (69%) are more likely to visit venues that contribute positively to the local community by volunteering or supporting local causes. 

Are we all flaky foodies?  

Despite patrons demanding more from their favourite venues, such as local sourcing, community integration and sustainability, customers are not always holding up their side of the deal. 42% of Aussies we asked were likely to cancel a booking last minute due to a change of plan, including preferring to stay home. In worse news, Aussies were shown to be a nation of ‘Hospitality Ghosters’, with 25% admitting they were likely to no-show at a booking without letting the place know. Whilst we might flake on seats, we won’t on staff, with 85% of those surveyed wanting renewed career progression paths and professional opportunities within the industry. 

Is Australia’s ‘Third Place’ welcoming for all?   

Much has been said about the role pubs play in Australia. They act as a midway point between home and work, fulfilling the role of the ‘third place’ where Aussies can socialise and make new connections. However, me&u’s hospitality research shows Australians look for venues which are inclusive of all walks of life. 91% of Aussies agree that all venues need to be accessible and welcoming for those with disabilities now and into the future, whilst 68% agreed that they would only attend pubs and restaurants that support diversity and inclusion.

Data and personalisation will power the next generation of the pub

With the rise of hyper-personalised venues comes the need to tailor the experience to every unique visitor. In the future, consumers might expect the ability to control the music at their own table or even turn down the lights. 54% of consumers surveyed were shown to be more likely to visit venues that use technology to give them a personalised menu that’s unique to their tastes, including tailored beverage recommendations. 52% agree that they would be more likely to visit venues that use technology to offer tailored experiences such as personalised lighting and music.

Technology enables, not replaces.

In an industry that’s experienced significant change in the last three years, the one constant that we know will exist in 2032 will be the people. For centuries, the pub has been the beating heart of communities and while technology is evolving how we navigate the public house, genuine interactions and human connections cannot be replaced by artificial intelligence. 9 in 10 (85%) agree that while technology can be useful, they feel venues are all about people and human interactions.

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