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The Meal Experience

By Gaurav Karn

There are many different kinds of food and beverage (or food service) operation, designed to meet a wide range of demand. These different types of operation are designed for the needs people have at a particular time, rather than for the type of people they are. For example, a person may be a business customer during the week, but a member of a family at the weekend; they may want a quick lunch on one occasion, a snack while travelling on another and a meal with the family on another occasion. Additionally, the same person may wish to book a wedding or organise some other special occasion.

As the reasons for eating out vary, then so do the types of operation that may be appropriate at the time. Differing establishments offer different service, in both the extent of the menu and the price, as well as varying service levels. The choice offered may be restricted or wide.

It is important to recognise that the specific reasons behind a customer’s choice will often determine the customer’s satisfaction (or dissatisfaction), rather than the food and beverage service by itself. One example is the social need to go out with friends: if one person fails to turn up or behaves in a disagreeable way, then the customer may be dissatisfied with the meal. The customer who is not able to satisfy his or her needs will be a dissatisfied customer. The customer may, for instance, be dissatisfied with unhelpful staff, cramped conditions or the lack of choice available. These aspects are the responsibility of the food and beverage operation. However, sometimes the reasons for the customer being dissatisfied might be beyond the operation’s control, for example, location, the weather, other customers or transport problems.

From the food and beverage operator’s point of view, it is important to recognise that the customer’s needs may vary and that food and beverage operators should be aware of factors that might affect the customer’s meal experience. Much research has been carried out in recent years identifying these factors. They range from location to the acceptance of credit cards, and from attitudes of staff to the behaviour of other customers. - Read new blogs every week!

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