Yair Ariel • July-7-2016
Quick service restaurants have been facing a lot of challenges lately. Their food is seen as an unhealthy alternative to fast casual restaurants or traditional restaurants. Quick service restaurants (QSRs) are responding to increased consumer demand for healthier choices for the rising trend for an active lifestyle. In lieu of fatty sandwiches and sugary drinks, options like salads, smoothies and healthy wraps with reduced carbohydrates are now available. More nutritional information is showing up on menus so parents can make healthy choices.
Addressing the growing needs of an active lifestyle for your customers
The National Restaurant Association says that this is a trend that most restaurant and franchise owners and operators are taking note of. According to the NRA website, more than 8 out of 10 restaurants participating in a 2015 survey said that their guests are paying more attention to the nutritional content of menu items as compared to even just a couple of years ago.
But food isn’t the only place where QSRs are catering to healthy people. Many of them are also offering more play and activity areas for children. Quick service restaurants have come a long way from the printed place mats and crayons or a few arcade games as the only children’s activity. Some restaurants, like McDonalds, have had large play spaces for children for decades. Kid-friendly restaurants that have play areas are more attractive to kids and to adults that want to encourage an active lifestyle and healthy habits in their children.
Advertising your Family-Friendly Restaurant
Do you have a play space already to promote an active lifestyle for kids, but find it’s not used enough? There are now a number of apps to help parents that want a family-friendly restaurant. Getting your restaurant listed in these apps could increase the number of families that come in to eat and to play.
One such app, Mom Maps, helps parents locate locations that focus on being family friendly. The app features an extensive list of not only kid friendly restaurants, but parks, playgrounds and museums. Users can search by category or zip code to find locations with directions on how to get there, contact information and ratings from others about their experience.
Other apps with a similar purpose include:
The Play Area is Great! But is it Clean?
Even though restaurants have focused on offering healthier food choices to an increasingly health-conscious consumer base seeking the active lifestyle, issues surrounding cleanliness in eating establishments is something that must also be prioritized. Clean play areas are a must for parents who want to ensure their kids are not exposed to bacteria and illness.
An incident involving a less-than-clean play area at a fast food restaurant happened to Dr. Erin Carr-Jordan, a child development professor at Arizona State University. When visiting an area restaurant with her family she allowed her son to play in the play area.
“I had no idea that when I said, ‘Yes, you can go down the slide,’ that it would look the way that it did,” she said.
Dr. Carr-Jordan described the play area interior as being black with dirt, hair everywhere, spilled food and ice cream and ketchup that had been spilled and hardened onto the play surfaces.
After repeated complaints to the restaurant’s management and nothing being done to correct the problem, Carr-Jordan swabbed the playground and had the sample analyzed at a microbiological analytics lab in Phoenix.
The lab results showed that there were more than 13 pathogens present that could cause infection or disease from the swabs taken from the playground. These included not just food-borne diseases but also serious bacteria like MRSA. She then founded the Kids Play Safe campaign in order to lobby legislators and concerned parents about the importance of having clean places for kids to play.
The parent company of the restaurant that launched Carr-Jordan’s personal crusade on the matter took her findings very seriously once she made them public. They have since taken to more closely examining their current procedures and how to address the problem.
Since that time, Dr. Carr-Jordan has swabbed 40 more restaurants across 13 states at various well-known restaurant chains such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Chuck E. Cheese, Peter Piper Pizza, and others. Dr. Carr-Jordan hopes that by raising awareness, legislation may be introduced as to play area cleanliness standards.
The fact is, diseases can be transmitted through public play spaces according to a recent study by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. But there are alternatives on the market that don’t have this problem. Even without playground equipment such as slides, ball pits and other attractions, it is possible to promote an active lifestyle with kids and keep them engaged and amused while the family is eating out.
BEAM is one of those technologies. BEAM, developed by EyeClick, is an interactive projector games solution that’s perfect for the restaurant space. BEAM allows restaurants and businesses to transform open space on floors and tables into an interactive, highly-immersive play area for children and adults.
The interactive projection system works like this. A BEAM unit projects the image of a game onto a surface, usually a floor. Cameras in the unit track up to sixteen players at a time for a variety of games. There are now several dozen games for the system with new ones released every month. There’s no equipment for the kids to touch, which means fewer worries about disease transmission. BEAM can also project onto tables so adults can play games while they wait for their food.
BEAM can be seen in a wide variety of settings including family and quick-serve restaurants, doctor’s and dentist’s offices, daycare centers, church child care, educational facilities, camps cruises and many other locations across the globe.
If you want to attract health-conscious families seeking the active lifestyle to your restaurant, you need to do more than just offer healthy food. Giving children a clean place to run around while parents wait for food is a big draw. Not every family wants to just shove a smartphone into their children’s hands to entertain them, and most kids would prefer a place where they can run like crazy inside. Having a play space, BEAM or otherwise, gives them that opportunity, which makes your quick-service restaurant just that much more attractive.
BEAM is an award-winning interactive projection game system that instantly enhances the experience at your quick service restaurant with endless fun, excitement, entertainment and engagement. For more information about the BEAM system and how it can help make the difference in your restaurant, contact the BEAM Team today!