costa coffee

With 2 million over 50’s expected to experience loneliness by 2025, an increase of 49% over 10 years, the campaign to end loneliness is so prevalent right now. As more and more guests are choosing to switch off social media in favour of an actual conversation, could this be a great opportunity for the hospitality industry?

One operator that certainly is taking the lead to bring people together is Costa Coffee, who launched its Chatty Café scheme in 200 of its stores last year, the aim being to get the UK talking again! Many managers have embraced the concept and are having great success with their 'chatter and natter' tables, hosting meetings for local groups and charities, providing a safe and friendly environment for vulnerable people to socialise. The concept came after Costa did some research and discovered that 49% of people talk face to face less than 6 times a day!

Ultimately, the hospitality industry is all about people, whether it brings friends together over lunch or provides a venue for a business meeting, but perhaps all operators should take a leaf out of Costa’s book in a bid to bring back real connection.

Operators could consider a no phone zone one night a week or an area for lone diners, giving them the option to eat together. There is so much that the industry can do, from supper clubs to themed events - exclusive pre-tasting nights for locals, discounted thank you nights for regulars or even free drinks for loyal guests.

A really lovely example of a supper club comes from The Bluebell pub, in Ireshopburn, the Pennines. The pub no longer trades, it doesn't even have a kitchen, but it opens once a month to host a community pot luck, with themes such as curry or stew night. Everyone brings their own dishes and the pub provides plates and cutlery.

Take it one step further and collaborate with campaigns such as mental health week and loneliness week by hosting your own talks where you can really drum up some interest about your initiatives. Or link up with local foodie businesses and organise a community fundraiser, selling raffle tickets to support your local food bank.

Guests like local, guests like community – the latest tech or craziest social media campaign isn’t necessarily what will make you stand out in this digital age.

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