Key Nightlife Trends Brand and Field Teams Should Know in 2024


Key Nightlife Trends Brand and Field Teams Should Know in 2024

Change happens quickly in the hospitality industry—and more so than usual over the past few years. From the existential threat of lockdown orders to the shifting landscape of work habits, bars and restaurants must be nimble to maintain a connection with your customers.

Staying on top of the latest shifts in the marketplace offers a crucial advantage in an increasingly competitive landscape. But identifying developing trends in nightlife isn’t enough to ensure your business stays relevant going forward. You have to understand the what, the why, and the how behind these changes to see results.

And don’t worry. Taking advantage of new developments doesn’t mean you have to compromise who you and your brand are. It’s a matter of ensuring that your business seizes available opportunities to capture the attention of the right audience and anticipate their needs.

3 Trends Restaurant and Bar Operators Need to Watch in 2024

At Enthuse, we gather on-the-ground insights from our teams to identify developments that will drive sales and nurture a connection with the audience your business needs. And all of that insight and observation revealed three trends we know are worth watching in the year ahead.

1. Optimize Bar Operations for Improved Customer Experiences

Between rising expenses in cities and challenges with staff retention, restaurants and bars are always searching for ways to efficiently provide a consistent experience.

For example, think about bars that see a steady stream of the same cocktail order. In a lot of cases, customers can be left waiting for every drink in their order to be prepared properly. And once you factor in your bartenders’ varying experience levels, customer wait times — and their drink quality — become even greater variables.

Action: Set Up Draft Lines for High-Volume Cocktails

By investing in draft lines for your most popular cocktail orders, you create a more streamlined experience for both sides of the bar. At one time, operators faced steep setup costs for draft lines, which is why higher-priced, labor-intesive, multi-ingredient cocktails were typically added on draft to offset the investment.

But as demand for this equipment has increased, implementation costs have come down. And that has shifted draft cocktails to the mainstream. Once installed, you can deliver your most popular cocktails more consistently, much faster, and see ROI much sooner.

For example, the espresso martini is a great candidate to offer on draft because these orders tend to come in multiples. Instead of forcing customers to wait for each individual cocktail, you can serve tables much faster for an experience to kick off their evening or close out a meal.

Why It Works

Besides delivering drink orders much faster, draft lines also ensure your customers enjoy the same cocktail experience with every order. Plus, in another advantage to your business, draft lines level the playing field by enabling your least experienced staff to create the same serve as your most seasoned bartender. Each drink comes out exactly as you and your customer like them.

2. Create Attention-Grabbing Presentations for Customers

It’s not exactly news that a viral post draws attention to your business and its customers. Clubs have long taken advantage of social media traffic with time-tested offerings like bottle service experiences. But those experiences have grown a little played out outside of destination locations like Miami and Las Vegas. Going viral on social media means restaurants and bars need to capitalize on delivering the unexpected.

Action: Tableside Experiences, Surprise Pairings, and Memorable Servings

At one time, servers marching to deliver bottle service was a sure way to catch the eye of other customers. But as bottle service has been trending downward, you can create similar buzz with surprising experiences delivered tableside.

For example, a flaming cocktail garnish or playful service flourishes will draw attention to the table and create standout experiences begging to be shared on social media. Not only do nearby customers want to try a fun, unexpected experience, but their followers will, too. You can also achieve similar results with elaborate serving vessels or surprising pairings of a snack with a signature cocktail.

We love the highbrow/lowbrow combination of a well-crafted martini with an order of French fries. And the contrast between casual and luxurious swings both ways. We’ve seen otherwise laid-back establishments offer drinks with a bump of caviar for an unexpected touch.

Implementation is just a matter of making sure presentations like these are right for your business. Unconventional experiences are eye-catching, but they have to be true to your brand to resonate.

Why It Works

In the social media era, attention is everything both for your establishment and your customers. An attention-grabbing presentation creates tableside viral-ability that’s good for creating a fun atmosphere and even better for business.

3. Adjust to Accommodate Changing Times (Literally)

Bars and restaurants have historically made their living in the late night hours, especially on weekends. Now, in response to changes like COVID restrictions and hybrid work arrangements, consumer habits are changing. Reservation booking services are noting an increased demand for earlier and mid-week outings among customers.

Action: Shifting Schedules and Early Bird Reservations

We have a few theories about the shift toward an earlier nightlife. For one, hybrid and remote workers aren’t away from home as often or for as long. Your customers who used to work into the early evenings in the office now want to wrap up their days earlier. It’s easier for people to plan on finishing up at home and be ready to head for happy hour at 5:01. 

Second, a lot of restaurants and bars scaled back their hours in response to shifting customer habits. Along with staffing difficulties after the pandemic, businesses in major cities found their audience no longer had the appetite for staying out into the early morning.

Now, you need to maximize how your business uses its time to meet customers where they are. Bars and restaurants can shift priorities and offer earlier and midweek reservations to attract more covers during traditionally off hours. Whether you use Resy or other reservation apps, you can meet shifting demands and ensure customer orders are ready as soon as they arrive.

Why It Works

Along with serving an increased demand for earlier outings, a shift to supporting early bird reservations enables you to better plan for staffing. If you see increased demand on Thursdays, you can ensure your team and inventory are ready. Plus, the addition of new hours presents the opportunities for new offerings such as special happy hour deals or pre-ordered cocktails.

Responding to Trends Offers New Possibilities for Engagement

In the hospitality industry, trends are more than a new means of connecting with current and future customers. They provide a key advantage in an aggressively competitive climate.

But staying aware of the latest trends in bars and restaurants doesn’t mean compromising who you are. It’s a matter of ensuring that your business capitalizes on every opportunity to capture the right audiences in your market. If this sounds like a big-picture view that will help your business, let’s connect and talk about it.