Food and drink choices are now playing a key role in attracting visitors to leisure attractions, according to new research from Future Thinking and Levy Restaurants UK, with 17% saying food and drink facilities which better meet their needs would encourage them to visit more frequently.
More than two thirds (67%) of us see these visits as a complete day out, with food, drink and a visit to the gift shop all part of the package.
While 59% tend to buy food and drink in the museums cafes and restaurants, almost half (47%) of customers will bring their own food on a typical visit to either cut costs or because the food offering does not meet their needs.
Food and drink facilities are most popular on a night out at the theatre (68%) and at family attractions (63%).
The new Retail and Leisure Barometer from Future Thinking surveyed 1,500 respondents, asking them about their behaviours and opinions when it comes to visitor attractions in the UK. Findings from the study were presented at the Museum and Heritage show alongside Levy Restaurants UK, specialist caterer for museums and visitor attractions, from the Imperial War Museum and Somerset House to Edinburgh Zoo.
The study suggests that families are keen to have the whole experience of a day-out, with over half (59%), expecting a premium experience while three quarters (71%) look for offers and discounts when planning days out.
Getting the food and drink offering right is even more important now as consumers plan to spend less on leisure activities. The findings revealed that 4% of households expect to spend less on all leisure activities this year, with evenings out and days out in particular set to drop by 13% and 15% respectively. However, there is an opportunity for UK visitor attractions that get it right.
The study found that 30% of respondents said that they plan to stay in the UK for their main holiday, with 56% of those on staycation planning to visit an attraction and 69% of those planning to holiday somewhere in the UK.
With this desire to visit more regularly but increased budget scrutiny, Future Thinking’s research suggests that to entice visitors to leisure attractions, the venues have to focus communications on tackling perceptions around three claimed barriers: cost (36%), lack of information on what’s new (27%) and quality of facilities including food and drink (18%).
All three were cited as the biggest reasons for not visiting a leisure attraction.
The study also found that most visitors (9 in 10) will do their research pre-visit. The most popular pieces of information that visitors look for as they prepare a visit to a leisure attraction include offers and discounts (51%), parking facilities (48%) food and drink options available (35%), special events or exhibitions (33%) and whether visitors can bring in food and/or drink (22%).Noreen Kinsey, head of retail and leisure at Future Thinking, said: “Leisure activities remain a cornerstone of a person’s lifestyle. This means attractions have to keep improving their offering, looking for areas to appeal to budget-conscious visitors, but without forgetting that a day out is and should still feel like a treat.
“It’s a competitive landscape out there, but if you can get your pricing and experience right, you can create a loyal base of visitors who will know they will get a complete, affordable and stress-free experience from you.”
Anna Fenten, head of marketing at Levy Restaurants UK, said: “We believe that food and drink play a key part when planning a day-out. At leisure attractions, it complements the overall enjoyment of the day for many visitors, and can be a major factor in encouraging return visits.
“These insights provided by Future Thinking will help museums, heritage venues, and visitor attractions to ensure we base our food and drink concepts on thorough insight.”