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Why do hospitality brands need to look beyond just good service?

Why do hospitality brands need to look beyond just good service?

Written by

Abbie Dawson


April 7, 2022


Latest research

Whether they're big or small, it's important to look past just service.

March 2022 saw more reasons for hospitality to be positive about the future. But it does look like the lay of the market landscape has shifted a bit in the last two years.

CGA’s Drinks Recovery Tracker revealed that average sales by value in managed pubs, bars, and restaurants in the seven days to Saturday (19th March), were 7% ahead of the same week in March 2019.1

Jonathan Jones, CGA’s managing director, UK and Ireland, said that these “trading figures show the hard work of Britain’s pubs, bars, and restaurants to build back from two years of disruption is paying off.”

However, he continued, “high inflation and the end to hospitality’s VAT relief, and mounting pressure on consumers’ disposable incomes, remind us that a return to pre-Covid-19 normality is still some way off.”1

One specific sub-sector slice of the hospitality market that fared substantially worse than others in the pandemic was pizza and burger chains.

Byron, Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Italian chains Strada and Carluccio’s were among the casual dining brands forced to close dozens of sites due to the damage done by persistent lockdowns.

A net 11.4% of chain restaurants (approximately 700 outlets) have closed since March 2020, as per findings from the Local Data Company (LDC). More specifically, Italian and pizza restaurants chains reduced by a net 22% or 448 sites across two years of Covid.2

However, Gordon Ramsey (never one to mince his words), saw this period in a positive light, as it helped to clean the slate of “crap” restaurants that make the most of merely being in prime locations with amazing, impossible-to-fail footfall.

But there are also more objective signs of recovery emerging. To some degree, the pandemic has cleared a way for new names to rapidly expand, including Pizza Pilgrims (a brand we’ve worked closely with), Rosa’s Thai, and Shoryu Ramen.

Independent restaurants have also started to grow in the space left by the chains, with the number of local restaurants increasing since March 2020 – up by 3.7% or 888.2

Stefan Chomka, the editor of Restaurant magazine says, “it is not about big brands any more”, as landlords are looking to curate sites with more variety, specifically small brands consisting of fewer than five sites.

“It’s no longer good enough to just open a restaurant and serve people.”


He’s also a foot tapper, a head bobber and, very occasionally, a gifted air guitarist. He’s a person, called James, and he does the job that most places leave to the robots.

Curated by superhumans.

Blending artificial intelligence, and actual intelligence, James oversees the curation of the playlists that influence the way your customers shop. Because, while the tech, data and science are important, there’s nothing better at picking music for humans, than humans. Especially our humans.

Walk this way, talk this way…

You have to walk the walk if you talk the talk, so here’s Phil Whittle, Retail Director at footwear brand schuh, on how we helped transform their brand’s customer experience:

“Startle went beyond our requests for a good music and signage solution and presented a bespoke, forward-thinking technology strategy. Coupled with their commitment to excellent service, they really stood out amongst other providers and have exceeded our expectations so far.”

Heard enough?

Get in touch to start giving your customers those hair-tingling moments.


1Beer Today, Hospitality sales improve, but normality is ‘some way off’. 28th March 2022.

2The Guardian, ‘It’s not about big brands’: how will UK casual dining fare after Covid? 26th March 2022.

Why do hospitality brands need to look beyond just good service?

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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