Every year, the UAE welcomes the holy month of Ramadan with open arms. Although it is a religious observance, it packs a significant social and economic punch.
Office hours may well be reduced, with corporate productivity somewhat decreased from other months, but other sectors – like the Hospitality Industry - thrive during Ramadan.
Standalone restaurants, hotel restaurants, and cafés across the United Arab Emirates offer extended hours to accommodate leisurely Iftar meals and to take advantage of those wishing to gather for Suhoor. And with 83% of families reporting a change in eating habits during Ramadan and households estimating an increase in spending related to food and beverages of 50-100%, those outlets that can adapt and adopt customer expectations can create a month-long golden opportunity!
Ramadan is all about the food, and today's digitally empowered and super savvy customers know precisely what they want. Customers today expect hotels and restaurants to cater to their every requirement with inviting promotions, innovative, fresh food and beverage offerings, and unwavering customer experiences.
The following describes three ways your business can meet and exceed what customers expect this Ramadan.
During Ramadan, being creative with promotions and special offers for both those fasting and those looking to partake in the cultural experience, is working well for James Akinnola, Lead Creative F&B at Radisson RED Hotel, Dubai Silicon Oasis.
We're finding customers are using Entertainer coupons more often during Ramadan, and we want to give them as much value as possible. We have both our regular menu, and now we're offering special Arabic-inspired Iftar and Suhoor menus available for takeaway.
Food is not the only thing on promotion at Radisson RED's OuiBar and RedRoof; a shisha-burger-mocktail combo is also proving popular amongst local residents and expats alike.
All-you-can-eat, buy one/get one, and bottomless drink offers all increase sales and boost profits.
No matter how imaginative or effective your promotions may be, you won't hit your target audience without a dedicated budget for robust online marketing via social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook.
According to YouGov®, 53% of consumers spend more, 40% search online for promotions, and 49% of consumers prefer establishments that offer discounts on food or lodging, or both, during Ramadan.
Make sure you're ready for those 'best iftar near me' searches.
There's a saying, 'don't mess with a good thing,' but with Dubai's hyper-competitive food scene and current Covid capacity limitations, that good thing can change from one day to the next.
Adding new items to your existing menu during the month of Ramadan is a great way to add diversity and fun without getting rid of what's working. Cost efficiency is as vital to profitability as sales are; therefore, if you can add one or more Arabic dishes crafted in your own distinctive interpretation as an alternative menu item, why not swap it out for a low performer?
Cafés, pop-ups, and food trucks have become a big part of Dubai's foodie culture. They've transitioned from places to pick up a quick bite to a leisurely break from routine and a place to linger over a cup of coffee or some small plates with friends.
With their often-international-themed menus and colourful, inventive backdrops, they can offer a more casual Iftar or Suhoor vibe. In keeping with the holy month, food and drink offerings can be easily adjusted to present their own original variations to Ramadan dining.
The fundamental tenets of Ramadan are very much alive throughout the UAE – the sense of community, charity, and families and friends fasting during daylight hours – but have you noticed some establishments do an exceptional job of giving the tradition the respect it deserves? More so than others?
It's essential to understand the core beliefs behind Ramadan, and at the same time, ensure your customers break their fast in a Covid-safe and comfortable atmosphere… all whilst staying true to your brand of course.
Besides delicious food, all great brands are known to deliver an experience for all senses, including ambience, music, décor, and most importantly, exceptional service. All these elements must coexist and fuse perfectly to ensure your customers feel at ease and cherish the moment.
Regardless of how perfect everything at your venue may be, it's always the customer service that keeps people coming back.
Provide guests with a personalized Ramadan experience by being attentive and efficient, providing dates and water to break the fast, calling them by name if appropriate, and offering tables in close proximity to safely accommodate all their guests. These are all things that win a customer's heart and turn them from one-time diners to regulars.
When all is said and done, most UAE customers actually don't want to stay home to break their fast. Make sure you don't give them a reason to.
 Aya Yousef, ‘The Economic Impact of Ramadan on the Food Sector’, HLB-The Global Advisory and Accounting Network, 12 January 2021, https://www.hlb.global/the-economic-impact-of-ramadan-on-the-food-sector/.
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PO Box 393942, Dubai, UAE