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Majority of restaurant goers appreciate an atmosphere with fewer diners

Majority of restaurant goers appreciate an atmosphere with fewer diners

Written by

Abbie Dawson


September 16, 2020


Latest research

With over half thinking the experience is less sociable than pre-lockdown.

Social distancing certainly has its pros and cons for the average restaurant diner. On the one hand, research from KAM Media’s Customer Sentiment Tracker lists a lack of social distancing as still the biggest concern for those thinking of returning*, while restaurants are concerned about the knock on effects of the new ‘rule of six’ for large bookings and revenue**. 

Yet Startle’s research into the diner’s view on the restaurant experience reveals that the only a quarter of them think the sound and buzz of people would improve the atmosphere (25.1%) (see graph 1).

Striking the right note for the ambience is key, so much so that it can positively effect business. The music played in a restaurant, its tempo, genre and volume, can directly influence a diner’s sensory perception and buying behaviour. For example, a study by Milliman concluded that restaurant diners exposed to slow music spent an average of 11 minutes longer at their table than those who were exposed to fast music***.

Chart showing people who feel the atmosphere would be better with the sound of people
Graph 1

Over half (52%) of restaurant goers still think the dining experience is less sociable than pre-lockdown (see graph 2).

Also, a third of those who strongly think the sound of people would not improve the restaurant atmosphere are aged 35-44.

Chart showing people who find restaurants more sociable than before lockdown
Graph 2

Thoughts from our CEO, Adam Castleton:

"It's interesting to see that restaurant diners prefer fewer crowds and a calm, relaxing dining experience, yet they appreciate the value of music and how this can impact the overall atmosphere. With fewer crowds, it's more important than ever to drive maximum customer spend and provide a customer experience that keeps them coming back. There are many studies into the effect of music on human behaviour. Restaurant operators should tap into these to help give a boost to their bottom line in this critical time."

This hub is the place to be for consumer research in retail and hospitality, so make sure to bookmark it, follow us on social, write it on a post-it note or whatever it is that you do. You could also sign up and subscribe to our mailing list, which is easy like Sunday morning.

Surveys carried out July and August 2020. Sample sizes (n)  >1000 people, UK Nat. Rep. with 95% confidence level & margin of error of +/- 5%.

*KAM Media: The Customer Sentiment Tracker. 7th September 2020.

**Evening Standard article: Restaurants warn Boris Johnson’s ‘rule of six’ could be ‘hammer blow’ to hospitality industry recovery. 11th September 2020.

***Milliman, The Influence of Background Music on the Behavior of Restaurant Patrons. 1986.

Majority of restaurant goers appreciate an atmosphere with fewer diners

Abbie Dawson

Marketing Manager at Startle. I'm in charge of our marketing activity, making sure to spread the word of Startle to as many brands as possible. When I'm not working, you'll find me vinyl shopping to add to my collection or working out at the gym (usually making enemies with a punching bag).

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