In a nutshell Eatertainment has been described as a guest experience that involves food and/or beverage dining before, after, or during other activities.
This however is a simplistic view and sums up most eating experiences when people go out for meals linked to an activity, but does the description really sum up what should be meant by term Eatertainment. A bowling alley offering burger and fries does not constitute Eatertainment.
Taking two similar words which proceeded Eatertainment. Retailtainment and Edutainment where both of these concepts rely on an element of theatre in how they are delivered.
Edutainment has come to the forefront through interactive learning experiences some of which are delivered by guides or actors, technology or even virtually within a museum or cultural experience.
Retailtainment in its finest format involves the consumer creating their own product which is unique to them such as a unique Kit Kat chocolate bar designed by the customer. The Kit Kat is then produced in front of the customer bringing the whole process to life. Pike Place Fish market in Seattle is also a great example of Retailtainment where the market traders are allowed to ‘play’ with the product and engage with the audience. If not already done check out the FISH training suite.
So, how can FEC’s and attractions create Eatertainment experiences?
Well, as a start, venues should consider their overall brand and match their food product with their brand identity. It’s not good enough to simply call each product on your menu after an element of your experience e.g. Golf venues calling a burger the Tiger Woods. Yes this could feature but on its own it doesn’t justify Eatertainment.
Venues should curate their menus based on your brand and audience mix.
Considering the menu is important to your success and the food and beverage product needs to stand out above the competition however the key is Theatre. Can the customer produce anything for themselves or can your team create products in front of the guest? How is the food delivered (Robot, conveyor or in person??). How sharable is the menu? How does the menu vary according to holiday periods or regular event themes. The list can go on and on.
The Dining in the Dark experience which has many locations worldwide is a great example of Eatertainment as it doesn’t rely solely of the quality of food or its presentation. It requires interactivity between guests and staff which for me is fundamentally the most important aspect for a true Eatertainment experience. It relies on guests thinking differently about their experience and in this particular example requires them to step out of their comfort zone and use different senses to enjoy the experience.
Team interactions are also critical in creating a true Eatertainment experience. Your staff should be allowed to ‘Play’ when ‘on stage’ and engage with the guest in a manner that is not expected (within your business parameters however!) Food service should be an experience and not a service so train your team, trust your team and watch them make the difference.