Guests who experience poor lighting are less likely to return
‘Too dark’ is main complaint

Eighty per cent of people who have visited a hospitality venue such as a restaurant, bar, hotel, pub or café within the past 12 months, found the lighting to have had a negative effect on their experience. The research, undertaken by lighting company, Lyco, shows that restaurants are the worst offenders with more than half (52%) of respondents having encountered poor lighting when dining out.

Lyco warns venue owners that, unless they invest in improving their lighting, they may feel the impact on their revenue as nine out of ten people said that bad lighting would affect their decision to revisit a venue – with restaurants most affected.

The main complaint about lighting was that in trying to create an appropriate ambiance, proprietors are too extreme in their lighting planning: most guests considered the lighting to be too dark: nearly a third thought lighting was badly positioned, and just 15% said the lighting was too bright.

Charles Barnett, MD of Lyco commented on the findings:

“I’m not particularly surprised to see restaurants at the top of this list for several reasons: patrons’ spend is perhaps higher here than it might be in a bar, pub or cafe and so the expectation to get things ‘just right’ is probably elevated. Secondly, there is a requirement to read a menu which would immediately highlight any problems with lighting. Lastly, the saying goes that we eat with our eyes and so not being able see a carefully chosen dish will detract from the overall dining experience.”

The ‘Goldilocks Zone’ important for an aging population

Lyco warns that getting lighting ‘just right’ or in the ‘Goldilocks Zone’ as the company calls it, is going to become increasingly more important as the population continues to age. At present, the baby-boomer generation holds the key to much of the nation’s wealth and whilst clearly not every venue is trying to attract a more mature guest, if the lighting is off-putting to this group, the establishment will miss out on the silver pound.

Other findings from the survey:

60% of people would be more likely to visit an establishment if they were able to control the lighting and create a ‘mood’ over their table or in their area. However, interest in hypercontrol lighting technology, most often operated by a mobile phone app or remote control, decreases as age increases – younger people are more open to the idea.
A third (33%) of 25 – 34 years olds, regularly take photographs of their food when they go out to eat – a trend that decreases with age; 27% of 65 – 74 years olds consider it rude.

Barnett concluded:

“The research is pretty explicit – make changes to your lighting or don’t expect your customers to return. However, getting the lighting right isn’t always easy as there is no one-size-fits-all approach – even a chain of restaurants in similar premises will have local issues to overcome in order to preserve the brand identity across multiple locations.

“Of course there are many factors that affect a customer’s decision to return to a particular establishment, but with many household’s disposable income flatlining and the costs of imported food and labour on the increase, the winners in this fiercely competitive market will be the ones that listen to their customers views and then act upon them.”