How scents, lighting, and music can ease diners back into restaurants

Experts believe scents, lighting, and music could be key to luring diners back indoors.

Can the soothing smell of eucalyptus help reluctant diners feel at ease when they return to restaurants? Some experts think so!

How scents, lighting, and music can ease diners back into restaurants

Data intelligence company Morning Consult has been tracking how US consumers feel about resuming various activities, including going out to eat.

As of October:

  • 65% of adults felt comfortable eating at a restaurant
  • Of those, 72% felt comfortable eating outdoors, while 64% felt comfortable eating indoors

Meanwhile, CPG sales and marketing firm Acosta found that 92% of American families want to eat at home as much (72%) or more often (20%) than they do now, even after the pandemic.

So, what can restaurants do to get butts back in seats?

The Wall Street Journal asked experts how to boost diner turnout and spending. Here are 2 of the most interesting takeaways.

Dipayan Biswas, professor of marketing at the University of South Florida’s Muma College of Business, suggests splitting dining rooms to offer 2 experiences:

  • A quiet, brightly lit dining room with spread-out tables for people who want to feel safe
  • For those who miss socializing, a room with dim lights and louder music (both of which increase diner spending)

Biswas also suggested using scents like peppermint or eucalyptus to enhance the feeling of cleanliness. Plus, those cooling scents encourage people to eat more, while warm scents — such as cinnamon — encourage people to eat less.

Fun fact: Disney parks have long used a patented device called the Smellitzer. They emit the fragrances at just the right times to enhance attractions. If you’re curious about what they look like, here’s a video!

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