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2021 State of the Hospitality Industry Report: Technology Trends, the Future of Hospitality and More

2021 State of the Hospitality Industry Report: Technology Trends, the Future of Hospitality and More

In August 2021, Lightspeeed surveyed over 2,000 global restaurant owners, operators, managers and guests to see how the past year has changed their views on the industry, for better or worse, and how they plan to adjust and adapt.

Read on to learn:

  • What kind of restaurant technology your customers want to use.
  • How other hospitality operators are managing the labor shortage.
  • What guests need to feel safe dining out.
  • Ways in which guests plan to support restaurants beyond dining in and ordering takeout.
  • How guests plan to spend their money in restaurants during this holiday season.

2021 Global State of the Hospitality Industry Report

Over 2,000 restaurant operators and guests share their views on restaurant technology, managing the labor shortage and how they envision the future of the hospitality industry.

Industry challenges and trends

Restaurant technology

More people, both restaurant workers and customers alike, are coming around to the idea of using technology to automate and streamline operations. This is another trend tied to the labour shortage. Once seen as a job killer, automation technology is now necessary to fill the gaps and support a smaller staff.

Key findings on restaurant technology include:

  • 57% of UK hospitality operators foresee online ordering technology changing the industry in the next 2-3 years. 
  • 44% of UK industry respondents strongly agreed that ​​new technology adoption over the last two years has been critical for their business’ survival.

Download the full report for more in-depth data and insights on the future of technology in the hospitality industry.


According to the Office of National Statistics, the number of payrolled hospitality employees in the UK dropped by almost 250,000 between 2019 and 2021. Due to the number of people leaving the service industry altogether, it is unclear if the labour shortage is permanent or temporary and, if so, how long it will last. 

Demands and expectations on staff need to be reconsidered to avoid high churn, as well as better working conditions, wages and benefits.

  • 48% of of UK operators say they’re struggling to retain staff.
  • 38% say they’re operating with less staff than they need.
  • 34% have raised wages and benefits to attract new hires

Download the full report to learn more about the actions restaurant operators are taking to fill the gaps and ease the workloads of smaller staff.

Guest behaviour

There are many reasons why restaurateurs around the world are struggling to retain staff, and reports of an increase in guests’ bad behaviour is one. While there have always been difficult customers, pandemic rules and restrictions have created a new epidemic of poor attitudes, from people disregarding staff requests to full-on verbal abuse and assault.

  • Forty-eight percent of hospitality professionals in the UK report that guests have been more demanding, while 46% actually feel they have been more understanding. 
  • 37% of UK respondents reported that guests have been tipping better over the past year, while 43% said they were tipping worse. 

Download the full report to see how reported guest behaviour in the UK compares to their European and North American counterparts and how tipping culture plays a role.

The guest perspective

Supporting restaurants

Globally, 35% of guests are keen to get back into the dining room as more restaurants open up, but many plan to still support their favorite restaurants in other ways.

  • UK consumers (36%) are much more eager to get back to dine-in than their Canadian counterparts (28%), but less eager than those in the US (51%)
  • While many more (44%) of respondents in the US plan to tip better than those in Canada (27%) or UK (22%), culturally it’s also much more expected there to tip and tip well.
  • While many UK guests are eager to get back into the dining room, takeaway isn’t going anywhere: 39% still order takeaway regularly, whereas 27% order takeaway less regularly now that they can dine out again. 

Download the full report to learn more about the experiences guests are looking for in 2021 and beyond.

Dine-in requirements

While guests are eager to come back to the dining room, they are still being cautious and careful. Now is the time to review your safety and sanitation practices and make sure guests and staff alike feel safe.

  • Fifty-one percent of UK guests want to still see staff and guests masked up indoors (unless eating, of course).
  • Just 30% of UK customers prefer to dine in an outdoor setting, with the demand is biggest in East Anglia (36%) and lowest in Northern Ireland (21%) and North East England (19%) 
  • UK customers (22%) are less concerned than their North American counterparts about providing proof of vaccination before entering a business.

Download the full report to find out what other health and safety precautions guests are expecting when they step into the dining room.

Holiday spending

In 2020, COVID took down the normal holiday boom many restaurants rely on—the holiday parties, catering and family gatherings during the winter months. For this upcoming holiday season, some guests want to return to their traditions while others remain cautious.

  • Out of all countries surveyed, guests in the US (31%) are most likely to bring back the corporate holiday parties this year
  • By comparison, only 9% of UK guests say they will be hosting corporate events inside a restaurant or bar this holiday season—the highest probability of this happening is in the North East of England (24%) and London (18%).

Download the full report for more tips on capturing extra holiday revenue this upcoming season.

As we move into 2022, the key takeaways to keep in mind are building and retaining a strong and happy staff, balancing customer service with company policies and staying up-to-date on the technology that savvy guests are increasingly expecting as the norm. 

Looking for a technology partner to help take your hospitality business to the next level? Talk to one of our experts today to find out how Lightspeed can help!

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