The UK’s hospitality sector is fiercely competitive. And a backdrop of economic change, turbulence and uncertainty only gives this competitiveness a keener edge. Restaurants and bars need to attract and retain customers like any other business, but are they also in danger of turning customers away and damaging their prospects in the process?
How inclusive should bars and restaurants be, and how can this help them survive?
The Happiness of Customers With Disabilities
The UK’s 12 million disabled population has a combined spending power of around £2.12 billion. This spending power is known as the purple pound. It is a market that restaurants and bars may find they cannot afford to ignore.
“This is an inherently precarious sector of the economy, typically facing threats from a number of sources,” Paul Green of Versatile Lift Company observes, “so it’s vital that it is aware of how to build its customer base.”
VisitEngland estimates that a quarter of people in the UK have health problems or a disability. They now publish specialist guides aimed at people with disabilities wanting to visit different places. Similarly, DesignMyNight publishes regional online information giving details of bars with disabled access.
“Bars and restaurants are a valuable part of the economy, but they need to think of how inclusive they are, both for reasons of social responsibility and sound economic sense”
Paul Green, Versatile Lift Company
What Threats Do Bars and Restaurants Face?
Firstly, there is the competition. Bars and restaurants cannot rest easy on their laurels. Particularly with the expansion and incursion of various large chains and big players. Profit margins are always going to face the squeeze.
Wages are an ongoing issue. With the announcement of the Living Wage, restaurants and bars now face an upwards pressure on wages, and therefore another challenge to the bottom line.
A rise in food prices is on the cards as the fortunes of the pound fluctuates and imported food becomes more expensive. Coupled with this is the uncertainty of food prices following a full exit from the EU. The rising cost of food is also affected by long-term climate change.
Finally, there is the state of the wider economy.
“The hospitality sector can find deterioration in its business quite marked, in times of recession or uncertainty,” Paul points out. “If consumers begin to tighten their belts, bars and restaurants will feel the pinch.”
“All the more reason for bars and restaurants to ensure that they are not turning valuable customers away, purely for reasons of poor disability access,” continues Paul.
“The solutions can be cost-effective and straightforward,” Paul concludes, “especially with modern lift technology. It’s time for bars and restaurants to think in terms of reputation, long-term stability, and the rights of people, with disabilities, to feel welcome.”
To discuss the options for improving inclusion at your venue, please call Versatile Lift Company on 0800 028 1972 or visit versatileliftcompany.co.uk.