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Ten Kites Blog page

Articles, analysis, and news from Ten Kites.

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Why we’re seeing more than just green shoots of recovery for Hospitality

As we wave goodbye to a January in lockdown with its dark mornings, cold days and the Groundhog Day challenges for many of home schooling, home working, home cooking…. there seems to be many reasons for optimism as we move into February and here are just a few we thought are worth shouting about…

  • Exciting new concepts are being launched or in the pipeline- Jail Break Chicken by TGI Fridays, Lime Squeezy Thai Kitchen by Giggling Squid, Soul Ride from House Café Company, Sumi from Novators Hospitality, House of Fu by Rose Thirteen to name a few.
  • Lots of operators are grabbing the opportunity to grow their estate- Oakman Inns, Brewdog, Ole & Steen, Thunderbird Fried Chicken, Rosa’s Thai Café, Vinoteca, Blue Lagoon, Fat Twins, Bao, Toast, Elite Pubs, Rustico Italiano, French 75, Hot Stone, Jollibee- the list goes on…!
  • The industry is primed for major investment from a number of sector heavyweights- Hawthorn has put aside £250m for acquisitions within its community pub sector, Wolt have raised £357m for its food delivery platform, Rooney Anand plans to invest £200m in the pub sector
  • Delivery goes from strength to strength with reach being extended further into the suburbs for customers missing out on their fix of wagamama, Nando’s, Giggling Squid and the like with predictions that 85% of customers are likely to order with the same or higher frequency than previously
  • The increasing popularity of ‘Dine at Home’ kits of restaurant quality food, requiring minimal effort or chefing skills, are providing an essential financial lifeline to our much-loved favourites- here’s hoping for bumper orders from those looking to celebrate Valentine’s Day at home this year
  • The 2021 Michelin Guide for GB and Ireland was unveiled with many stars retained, gained and 17 restaurants newly awarded a star as well as 23 green stars for the new sustainability distinction. Well done each and every one of you!

Here at Ten Kites we are humbled to be part of such an innovative, passionate and creative industry that is so determined to not only survive but come back stronger than before.

There are still significant hurdles to overcome and lots of questions to be answered- when will the sector be given the green light to reopen? What restrictions will remain in place? Will the rent moratorium, VAT reduction and business rates reduction be extended? Will the Job Retention scheme be extended?

However, the recent admissions that hospitality has never been found to be a significant factor in covid transmission-including during the Eat Out to Help Out scheme- or that the curfew had no scientific proof behind it together with transmission rates tumbling and 1 in 8 UK adults now having received their first vaccine dose, there is light at the end of the tunnel and we are excited to see what each new day brings.

If you would like to talk to us and see how we can help you drop us an email at

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Dry January: Another Challenge for Hospitality?

At the time of writing the nation has gone into a third lockdown. Much of the UK has already been in a similar situation since the end of the second lockdown at the beginning of December.

The length of this third lockdown remains indefinite so who knows what the situation will be in a month’s time. What we do know about January though is that, even without the existence of COVID, it’s become a tricky one to navigate for hospitality thanks to the rise in popularity of Dry January.

The narrative around Dry January has two themes. The first is the health and wellbeing angle, giving up the drink for a month is seen as a good opportunity for cleansing the body after putting it through the excesses of the festive period. The second, and again it’s linked to Christmas, is not going out for a drink can mean saving the pennies after some heavy spending at the end of the previous year.

In 2019 the content of online reviews painted a clear picture. Those referencing Dry January increased by a massive 61% from 2018 whilst the positivity of those reviews saw a rise too, jumping from 31% in 2018 to 44% in 2019 and 75% in 2020. One in ten drinkers observed Dry January almost a year ago, which was a record high and 58% of those people looked to choose low and no alcohol beverages, which does point towards how operators are catering to the changing tastes of their audience. That figure being so high because essentially they’ve got a lot more choice than they used to.

Those figures are positives for hospitality. It shows it is adapting but that also operators are able to provide better alternatives for their customers. Online reviews give us more insight. On Trip Advisor 27% referenced taste and 23% referenced choice.

There may be another theme to this too. Dry January isn’t an only child. There’s also it’s sibling, Sober October which shows there’s a definite change in trends happening. Younger people are preferring coffee shops for day-time meetups rather than pubs and bars. Alcohol Change UK suggests the amount of people going teetotal has increased amongst 16-44 year olds since 2005, with health-conscious 16-24 year olds now the group least likely to drink.

Dry January is a challenge for hospitality and it’s one they were rising to. People do want to be healthy but they also still like to socialise. Allow them to be healthy in a social environment and they will come. At the start of the year, before COVID, lockdowns and tiers, there was great news for the industry with new UK pub numbers growing for the first time in a decade, largely thanks to adapting to their audience, offering more premium experiences, overnight stays and diverse food offerings.

We know January 2021 is going to be very different and we do know once the world, and hospitality return, to something that looks normal life, they’ll have to adapt to the changing habits of their audience again.

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Benefits of Using Digital Menus

Many restaurants are integrating the use of digital menu technology alongside their paper based ones. Digital media changes the perception of consumers and impacts how businesses present themselves.

There are a multitude of benefits to having digital menus and food operators are quickly realising how helpful they are in improving their business practices. Let’s discuss some of those benefits:

Change menus quickly and easily

You know how it goes, you need to make changes to your menu and you have to run it through the head office design team, which can take months to plan, formulate and produce. Whatsmore, you then need to print a whole new batch of menus for what can sometimes only be small changes. It costs time you don’t have and money you shouldn’t need to spend. If you have a digital menu, you don’t have to do any of that. Simply make changes yourself, on a central platform, with a few clicks of a button and put the new menu live. This makes it so much more efficient to update menu items as you update when you feel a change is needed, whilst also providing the ability to remove food items that aren’t performing well.

Faster ordering

Digital menus have the ability to showcase food items with real photography, encouraging customers to make quicker decisions about what kind of dish they would like to order. It takes the hassle out of having to read detailed menu descriptions, imagining what something might look like or spying on other tables in an effort to know what looks good. This faster ordering process helps serve more customers at a time, reduces the waiting time, allows them to see exactly what’s on offer and will positively impact customer experience and service ratings.

This is going down particularly well with the younger market who are used to hospitality venues providing them with digital solutions to help make their purchases. Launched in 2017, Wetherspoons order and pay app is now part of their fabric with 76% of their millennial customer base saying they’ve used the app in the last three years. However, it should be noted that this solution sits alongside traditional menus as much of their demographic is older and have preference for paper based menus. This is an important part of their strategy as they aim to cater to all.

Better Communication

Food operators can sell, share unique menus, and publish information to a target market all with a digital menu.

Allergen Safety

A digital solution ensures clear and correct allergen and nutritional information is available, removing the risk of team members providing out of date- and potentially harmful- information to guests.

Cost Savings

Not only do digital menus provide all the relevant allergen information, they also help to reduce your operating costs too. It means you never have to print brand new menus nor have to reprint existing ones due to often small and subtle changes. Simply log in to a central system, make the necessary changes, and all menus will be updated instantly regardless of where they are. It’s that easy.

In an age where operators need to demonstrate more due diligence and compliance than ever before, it makes sense to introduce digital solutions alongside traditional ones. But unlike many modern technological solutions, the transition doesn’t have to be complicated. Ten Kites provides you with a simple and easy way to publish your menu information everywhere you need it, including online, apps, EPOS, table ordering solutions and much more. If you would like to find out more about how this digital solution can benefit your business, please get in touch.

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How hospitality stepped up to provide free lunches despite facing huge challenges

When the government said no, hospitality said yes. When the government voted against feeding children, hospitality voted in favour.

When times were at their hardest, hospitality realised it was even harder for children. And so, almost without a second thought for their own businesses and hardships during the worst of years, businesses stepped up to provide what children needed. Free meals during school holidays.

Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford MBE was ‘blown away’, as were communities around the country when many hospitality businesses stepped up to support the #EndChildFoodPoverty campaign in October. The campaign, set up by Rashford, for free school meals to be offered over school holidays, was a response to the government voting against Labour’s motion for just that over half term holidays until Easter 2021.

The whole scenario showed just how communities can come together to support each other in times of struggle, and what a struggle 2020 has been for the hospitality sector. The sector has suffered more than any other as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic with some sources citing at least £30billion in losses. Even now, during what would traditionally be the busiest time of the year, the new tier system means the majority of hospitality businesses across the country remain shut.

Despite those losses, it didn’t stop hospitality stepping up when it mattered most. Pubs, cafes, chippies, bakeries and restaurants have all joined in with the campaign. By the first morning after the vote in October 100 hospitality venues had already pledged to serve packed lunches during the holidays. As we approach the Christmas break, many more have followed.

In the aftermath of the vote from MPs, Rashford started sharing messages from hospitality businesses across the country who were offering their support and making it known you can rely on them.

McDonald’s was the biggest name to help, announcing to offer a million free meals for UK families ‘in greatest need’, but the majority of donations have come from independent, single-site operators, as well as local councils and catering companies.

One of those business owners who joined in is Katrina Page, who runs Page’s Bakery in County Durham. A quote from her sums up the general feeling: “Kids don’t need to suffer do they? We can’t see children go hungry here. It isn’t fair”.

Rashford has said the real superstars in this country can be found in the heart of most cities, towns and villages who support our most vulnerable across the UK. He’s right. Hospitality, and everyone who’s come together for this campaign, we salute you.

If you would like to sign the petition to end child poverty, you can do so at For the full list of organisations contributing to the campaign, go here

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