The seven top hospitality trends for 2018


1. Impacts of minimum wage increases

The minimum wage increases are likely to be the biggest shake-up to the hospitality industry over the coming years. From 1 Jan 2018, Ontario will increase the minimum wage from $11.60 to $14 per hour, a massive 20% increase. Other provinces are also increasing their minimum wage in the vicinity of .50c per hour. The true impact of these hikes is yet to be seen, but the industry will need to adapt to address the increase in overheads. Whether it’s staff restructuring, raising prices, reducing serving sizes, or a combination of the above, the changes will certainly be felt by industry and consumers alike.

2. Insta food

From unicorn lattes to freak shakes, doughnut coffee cups to larger-than-life cream buns, it seems there’s a new instagrammable food craze every other week. The biggest, the most, the weirdest, or the brightest mash-up combos of food and drinks, the possibilities are endless. Master the right combination of wow-factor and taste, even the most unassuming venue in an unknown town can find viral success and global Insta fame.

There’s no denying that Instagram is influencing the food and beverage scene. Savvy operators are purposely creating menu items for their Insta-worthiness. The advent of dedicated Nutella bars and cookie-dough cafes are a direct by-product of the Insta food machine, and it doesn’t look like slowing down any time soon.

The Insta food craze is here to stay, but what exactly the next charcoal pizza will be, only time will tell.

3. Leveraging technology

From online ordering to contactless payments to app-based rewards programs, technology is increasingly permeating every facet of the hospitality industry. That’s before we even mention drone deliveries!

Thanks to the likes of Mobi2Go, it’s no longer just the Domino’s of the world accepting online orders; even your local hole-in-the-wall coffee shop now generally has online ordering facilities. In a world where consumers increasingly expect to have everything at the swipe of their smartphone, it’s no longer enough for businesses to have just a website and social media accounts.

4. Delivery

Walk into a takeaway shop on a Saturday night, and it’s not customers sitting around waiting for their food, it’s a stream of helmet-wielding delivery drivers waiting to collect orders. Third-party home delivery services including Just Eat, Foodora and co. saw a huge surge in 2017, and the trend shows no sign of slowing down.

While third-party home delivery greatly broadens your potential customer base and can add an additional revenue stream, there are other factors to consider; to some extent, it reduces your ability to control quality and service standards, up-sell, or form the personal connections (loyalty) which happen more organically when customers dine in-house.

5. Ethics

Conscious consumerism continues to creep to the forefront of the hospitality industry, as businesses embrace their social responsibility and respond to consumer demand for better business practice. Where bio-friendly packaging made way for reusable cups last year, 2018 will see a conscious effort to reduce food waste by incorporating the lesser used parts of food, such as roots and stems, into menu items.

6. Superfoods

Another year, another superfood craze. While 2017 was the year of turmeric, this year promises to take superfoods to the next level. Everything from insect protein powders to edible clays and hemp products are touted to be the next big thing.

Fermentation, with its ability to make food easier to digest, is another trend likely to stick around in 2018. From kefir to kimchi to kombucha, it’s time to get familiar with fermented foods.

As more people make an effort to reduce their meat consumption, plant-based proteins are seeing a surge in popularity. Plant proteins are no longer just for vegans and vegetarians. Better food technology has made plant-based burgers and nut ‘mylks’ even more appealing, even to meat and dairy eaters.

7. Craft spirits

With the rise of craft beer, so too comes the advent of craft spirits. From gin to whisky, vodka to rum, craft distilleries are on the increase globally, and Canada is no exception. Consumers are becoming increasingly savvy when it comes to their spirits. They want to know what botanicals are in their gin and what type of still was used to make their whisky. Fully appreciating a good drink these days goes beyond just the taste; customers want to know the drink more intimately to complete the experience.