Your restaurant customers care more about odors than you think: Here’s why

The Covid-19 pandemic was a particularly challenging time for restaurant operators.

In the US alone, there was a 65.91%*1 year-on-year decline in the number of consumers dining in restaurants as of January 2021, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In the UK, revenue in May 2021 remained down 25%*2 when compared with May 2019.

Plus, restauranteurs had to grapple with changing distancing, masking, and cleaning rules, and the knock-on effects of staff absences and enforced quarantines. And, according to the OECD*3, food supply chains experienced “unprecedented stresses” too.

As a result, the quality of restaurant service sometimes suffered.

Today, things are certainly easing. But with many of these pressures leaving long-lasting impacts – or remaining in place – how can restaurant operators bounce back from the pandemic? And what are your customers most concerned about?

Customer experience is more important than ever

With consumer confidence still returning to pre-pandemic levels, providing a comfortable, hygienic, and relaxing environment for customers remains crucial.

Awareness of the hidden risks of airborne viruses and bacteria is still high, and many customers continue to take their personal space much more seriously than before. Surface infection risks are also at the front of many customers’ minds, who expect heightened cleaning regimes to remain in place. That means your staff is still expected to regularly sanitize surfaces and their hands and ensure that the dining environment is kept clean and healthy – as well as the food.

At the same time, the pandemic laid a heavy blow on the resilience of restaurant staff, and many left the sector altogether. Those who remain are less tolerant of poor working conditions and are also conscious of the health risks of coming in to work in a public-facing role.

That means that restaurant owners need to work harder to attract and retain talent, while balancing the demands of the increased cleaning regimes that customers expect.

Even so, many restaurant owners have got their priorities wrong – and odors are key

When it comes to your restaurant environment, temperature, and humidity are important. This is why air-conditioning systems that support a comfortable environment are common, especially in more extreme climates.

However, most owners significantly underestimate the importance of odor control in cleanliness. A survey carried out by Kao Professional Services found that while 57.1%*4 of customers prioritized odors inside a restaurant as a contributing factor to their impression of cleanliness, only 39.5%*5 of owners followed suit.

That means there’s a significant disconnect between what customers want from their dining experience, and what most restaurant owners are focusing on. And it’s clear that odor control has never been more important in attracting return customers.

With chefs and waiting staff quickly becoming accustomed to overpowering cooking and rubbish smells, we simply can’t expect them to experience things from the customers’ perspective. And this recognition gap means owners are disconnected from what their customers most desire.

Getting control of the odors in your restaurant will contribute to a much more comfortable and desirable dining environment.

Tip – Odor control is crucial, but it’s complicated

Bad odors are one of the most off-putting things a potential customer can experience. But on the other hand, appetizing cooking aromas can be an important element in someone’s meal – and can even be a crucial factor in pulling them in in the first place. As one restaurant manager explains, “We get compliments on the smell from time to time, probably it is about twice a week that a customer walking past says, ‘Oh that smells nice.’”

So while it’s important to be seen to be taking cleanliness and hygiene seriously – even if your standards were already high – you don’t want to simply eliminate or mask every smell. “You need something that absorbs smell rather than counters the smell like scented candles,” another manager acknowledges.

That means you need a way of controlling rather than eliminating odors in your restaurant, and of targeting that odor control to sensitive areas, such as fridges, rubbish storage areas, and of course your dining room.

So it’s no surprise that many restaurant owners are turning to air conditioning with integrated deodorization to improve their environment.

Introducing nanoe™ X technology: Odor control and quality air

Integrated into air conditioning, nanoe™ X inhibits viruses, bacteria, mold, allergens, and hazardous substances contained in fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) that exist in the air around us.

By spreading hydroxyl radicals – that are derived from nature – nanoe™ X also tackles bad odors throughout your restaurant, creating a more appealing environment for customers and staff alike.

nanoe™ X effects on odors

Durian odor*6

nanoe™ X reduced durian odor
intensity faster than natural reduction

BBQ odor*7

nanoe™ X reduced BBQ odor
intensity faster than natural reduction

Built into an air-conditioning unit, it requires no additional space, and can be operated via remote or over wifi for 24-hour deodorization. Restaurant owners typically prefer to run the system in air-conditioning-only mode during opening hours, before activating the nanoe™ X function during closed periods to eliminate odors.

24-hour continuous deodorization at restaurant

It cuts down on the cleaning your staff are required to undertake and is also an economical and climate-conscious choice. The technology is highly energy efficient, and using a combined solution means avoiding the need for separate air-conditioning and purification devices.

It’s an important step in demonstrating to your customers how seriously you take not only their health but also the quality of their experience.

With the right measures, you can show your customers an unforgettable time

Our slow release from the intense pressures of the Covid-19 pandemic has given the restaurant industry an unprecedented opportunity to transform the way it serves customers. With hygiene consciousness remaining high, people continue to expect more from restauranteurs and the level of cleanliness they provide.

Plus, with odor one of customers’ biggest concerns, there’s never been a better time to get control over your environment and create a truly exceptional restaurant experience. And that’s where nanoe™ X can help.

*1 Statistic taken from Statista
*2 Statistic taken from the Office for National Statistics’ report ‘Coronavirus and its impact on UK hospitality: January 2020 to June 2021’
*3 Statistic taken from ‘Food Supply Chains and COVID-19: Impacts and Policy Lessons’, published by the OECD, June 2020
*4 Statistic taken from Kao Professional Service Survey 1 (in Japanese)
*5 Statistic taken from Kao Professional Service Survey 2 (in Japanese)
*6 Testing organization: Panasonic Product Analysis Center. Testing method: Verified using the six-level odor indication method in an approximately 23㎥-sized test chamber. Deodorization method: nanoe™ released. Target odor: Surface-adhered durian odor.
Test result: Odor intensity reduced by 1 level in 0.5 hours. (1V332-180402-K01)
*7 Testing organization: Panasonic Product Analysis Center. Testing method: Verified using the six-level odor intensity indication method in an approximately 23㎥-sized test chamber. Deodorization method: nanoe™ released. Target odor: Surface-adhered BBQ odor. Test result: Odor intensity reduced by 1.2 levels in 2 hours. (4AA33-151221-N01)

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