Top 10 frustrations of UK restaurant guests

Top 10 frustrations of UK restaurant guests

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The top 10 dining grievances

Success in the hospitality industry comes from understanding what your guests want, and exceeding their expectations when you provide it. But sometimes it's also worth taking into account the things that your guests would like to see less of. Our consumer survey reveals the top 10 guest grievances from diners and, with the exception of the number one annoyance on the list, all are well within the control of a competent and consistent front-of-house team.

1. Disappointing food

2. Having to ask for service

3. Waiting too long for food and drink

4. An unclean table

5. Being ignored on arrival

6. Dishes arriving at different times

7. Waiting too long for the bill and to pay

8. Incorrect order arriving

9. Slow taking of food order

10. No check-backs

Demographic analysis

Our research also found that there is a gender divide amongst guests when it comes to selecting their biggest grievance. An unclean table bothered 12% of women compared to just 8% of men, and more women (11%) disliked being ignored on arrival - a scenario which didn't bother quite as many men (8%).

The biggest dining grievance for women was 'disappointing food' (19%) but only 14% of men agreed. Instead, male diners were far more concerned by the speed of service - 27% choose speed in some capacity for their top grievance compared to 19% of women.

Despite this apparent need for speed, it appears from our research that patience comes with age. Whilst 8% of 18-25 year-olds cited waiting too long for the bill as their top grievance and 10% were bothered by a long wait for food, none of those aged over 66 found either of these issues to be a problem.

How to fix it


Pinpointing the biggest grievances in hospitality can help us to better identify priorities and optimise the experience of guests. With disappointing food at the top of the pile, operators may wish to look into receiving dish-specific feedback, with imagery, so they can easily identify issues with dish specification or consistency.

Each of the top 10 can be isolated to a key stage of the guest journey. Having a clear and achievable framework to set standards at each of these stages, and an effective way of measuring performance, will help operators to manage consistency and identify weak points. You can also take a look at our Mystery Guest Audits, which help operators measure and improve standards.

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