Other cities stand to learn from Glasgow's plans for its night life, with hospitality at the forefront of its rejuvenation, says Colin Winning
We all know how important the night time economy is to cities across the UK and the critical role hospitality plays in that. That's why it is pleasing to see Glasgow City Council move forward with plans to reinvigorate the city's night life with the introduction of new bars and restaurants linking Sauchiehall Street, Buchanan Street and Argyle Street, dubbed the ‘Golden Z Project'.
The vision and plan for the Golden Z has been recommended to the City Administration Committee for approval, and while it will bring multiple benefits to Glasgow, it is also one other cities can learn from. There has been a lot of doom and gloom around the hospitality industry and the shortage of staff. But the sector still accounts for nearly 9% of all jobs in Scotland and will continue to be a major employer thanks to forward-thinking projects like this.
Local authorities across the whole of the UK should be looking at what cities like Glasgow, as well as London and Bristol, are doing in order to revitalise their economies, and food and drink will play a major part in that. Ideas such as the Golden Z Project can not only attract people to the industry, but it could also bring new talent to Glasgow across many different roles.
Existing city centre venues could be forgiven for dreading the prospect of further competition, but just being new and trendy won't be enough to draw diners. As well as what's on the menu, venues need to think about the whole experience of a night out and offer more than just food. This is what's exciting about the plans.
In order to squeeze as much value as they can from every service, restaurants need a plan to delight everyone, from the early diners who set the tone for a successful evening to the post-9pm bookings who tend to spend more on drinks. Most restaurateurs will tell you that the most profit actually comes from drinks anyway, in relation to the latter.
It's the experience that matters, and aside from the high-end, high-spend venues, it's not something that can be achieved by focusing on food alone. You need the right offers, targeted to the right people.
Of course, a restaurant can only be as strong as its relationship with its regular customers. Venues must ultimately provide an amazing experience to diners, not only from the moment they book and when they dine, but beyond, to drive repeat bookings. This highlights the increasing need to incorporate loyalty programmes to reward diners, add value and encourage repeat business.
The more flexible and creative owners can be with their space, the more options they have to create unique experiences. Whether that's by hosting private parties or events for local businesses or running special events of their own, there are many ways a venue can make money and add value behind ‘closed doors', so to speak.
We've seen customers use ResDiary to do just that by creating events such as wine tastings and afternoon teas and then promoting and selling them directly through their booking widget.
Ideas like the Golden Z are great, but it will take more than the hospitality industry to make it a success. Like many cities, Glasgow has its own problems with travel to and from the city centre at night. Right now, people prefer to be out earlier in the day so that they encounter fewer issues getting home. Ensuring they have a good reason to stay in the city centre and spend their money there is something everyone would love to be able to dine out on.
Colin Winning is the chief executive of ResDiary
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