05 Nov How to Enhance Your Dining Experience by Using 5 Senses
The senses of sight, smell, touch, taste and sound have a big impact on customer experience in restaurants. Using these sensory triggers is an effective way to increase sales and customer satisfaction.
Providing personalized experiences like calling customers by name, knowing their allergies and preferences, and giving them the table they always dine at are the little things that win a patron’s heart and keep them coming back for more.
Aside from affecting your tastebuds, sight plays a significant role in your eating experience. It influences how hungry you are by triggering memory associations with food and the environment around you. For example, a woman who has always loved the sound of a delicious grilled chicken breast covered in a sweet and tangy barbecue sauce may start to associate the smell of it with old crooner music or the sound of a friend cooking on the grill.
When you are dining, try closing your eyes to mask the sense of sight and focus solely on the aromas, touch, and taste. You might be surprised at how much your meal can come alive when you take the time to really see it. It is also a great way to practice mindfulness.
Smell is one of the most important sensory inputs during dining, as it influences how much energy you put into your meal and your mood while eating. Imagine a grilled chicken breast with sweet tangy barbecue sauce, the smell of which brings to mind the delicious taste that’s about to be yours. Your appetite is immediately whetted, and the anticipation of that first bite is palpable.
In addition to affecting your energy, smell can also evoke memories of past meals. A pleasant scent can take you back to making meatballs in your grandmother’s kitchen or sipping on a glass of wine by the ocean during your honeymoon. These associations are more powerful than a visual or audio cue, and they can have a more long-lasting impact.
This is why restauranteurs have been turning to scent as a strategic marketing tool in recent years. While a dish’s presentation and taste have been the top concerns in restaurants for decades, the industry is increasingly recognizing the importance of incorporating all five senses to create memorable experiences.
The next time you eat, try closing your eyes and inhaling deeply to focus on the aromas around you. Try to identify the different scents and see if they trigger any memories, positive or negative. Doing this exercise will help you become more aware of the different scents that tend to blend into our day-to-day routines and make them easier for your brain to label. It’s an easy way to improve your dining experience! Alternatively, you can keep a smell journal to practice your olfactory skills. Write down each scent that you encounter and try to pinpoint its origin. This will make it easier for you to recognize and remember the unique qualities of each smell in the future.
In the conventional sense of taste, our tongues are responsible for discerning sweet, salty, bitter, and sour flavors. But taste can actually involve a wide variety of sensations, including texture and smell. Explore more dining guides at DiningFAQs.
When it comes to a dish’s aroma, the brain tells us whether we will enjoy the food before our mouth even touches it. A foul-smelling meal is enough to turn our appetites against it. That’s why many restaurants incorporate a blend of scents to create a sensory experience before even taking a bite.
The smell of a dish can also have a profound impact on its flavor. A dish with a rich, earthy fragrance can remind you of childhood or the countryside. This kind of memory association can make you want to eat the dish, regardless of its taste or nutritional value.
Another way that our senses can influence our experience of a dish is by its color, shape, and texture. For example, the bright red hues of a strawberry can trigger memories of springtime or a childhood picnic. These memories can make you salivate in anticipation of the taste of the strawberry.
Sight and smell may be more closely related to our perception of a food’s taste, but our touch and hearing can have a great impact on how we experience our food. The feel of a burger bun in your hand, the warmth of a soup bowl, and the sound of old crooner music can all contribute to the enjoyment of a meal.
Research into the role of the five senses in memorable dining experiences has been relatively sparse (Krishna & Schwarz, 2014). However, the increasing demand for multi-sensory brand experiences in the restaurant environment means that this area is likely to continue to grow.
The sense of touch is a key element in the experience of food. This is because it allows us to create an emotional connection to a meal. The way a burger looks, the way it smells and sounds as it sizzles on a grill, and the mouthfeel of the meat patty in your hand are all ways that we connect to our meals emotionally.
Another important part of the touch experience is how your customers feel when they sit in a restaurant. The table you choose to use can affect how a customer feels in the space. For example, a booth or table along the wall might make them feel anchored and secure, while a picnic table might make them feel more communal. The type of finish you use on your tables can also impact the customer’s perception of the touch of the surface. This is because some finishes have a more natural, solid and textured feel, while others can feel plush, soft and layered.
As the multi-sensory dining experience becomes increasingly more important, many restaurants are using technology to enhance their guests’ experiences. From digital projections that transport diners to dinner in the rainforest, at the bottom of the sea, or surrounded by vineyards, to countertops and tabletops that light up or produce sound when touched, there are many ways for restaurants to incorporate the sense of touch into their experience.
Researchers have found that the sound of food being prepared or eaten can affect people’s perceptions and enjoyment of it. Interestingly, they also have discovered that the sounds of a restaurant can influence a person’s emotional state and even their memory of the meal. Whether it’s the sounds of a kitchen bustling with activity, or the music that is playing in a restaurant, these sound elements can have lasting effects.
Restaurants have been experimenting with ways to use their soundscapes to enhance customer satisfaction and increase revenue for some time. For example, some restaurants play soothing and relaxing music to help customers unwind and enjoy their meal. The right type of music can also slow down the pace at which customers eat, and encourage them to linger longer in the restaurant to finish their meals.
Another aspect of sound that influences customer satisfaction is the presence of certain ambient noises that cannot be easily controlled. This includes the noises that are generated by other customers, such as loud conversations or misbehaving children. Studies have shown that these sounds can negatively impact a diner’s experience, but it is not always easy for managers to reduce the amount of this noise in their restaurants. This is where a proactive customer service approach to handling situational sounds can have a significant impact on the overall customer experience in a restaurant.
Scientists have discovered a direct link between sound and taste, with higher-pitched sounds (think flutes) enhancing the sweetness of foods while low-pitched sounds (like tubas) enhance bitter tastes. While it’s not practical for most restaurants to design their soundscapes with this in mind, many are starting to experiment with human-curated sounds to create a more immersive and bespoke dining experience.