Eye-tracking experiment reveals diner expectations [video]

04 May, 2016 by
Danielle Bowling

According to a recent study conducted on behalf of Tork, tidy dining areas and fresh bathrooms are more important than service to restaurant guests.

During a visit to a restaurant, a guest looks at 7,000 details across all areas of the restaurant, and nine out of 10 guests consider tidiness and cleanliness more important than service. These are some of the findings from a research initiative around restaurants and the guest experience carried out on behalf of professional hygiene brand, Tork. The initiative included a survey of 3,000 restaurant guests and a unique eye-tracking experiment devised to shed light on how a restaurant is perceived through the eyes of a guest.

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The eye-tracking experiment used micro-cameras placed on the inside frame of connected eyeglasses, so every fixation of an eye could be measured. To map out a complete restaurant experience, guests were asked to complete three tasks while wearing the eye-tracking glasses:

  • Have dinner at a table in the restaurant environment
  • Have a drink by the bar in front of an open kitchen
  • Wash their hands

The collected data was analysed and used to create visual heat-maps featuring guests’ attention and focus of interest. 

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The results of the survey show that quality of food matters most, with customers ranking the food, a clean and tidy table, and fresh, sanitary bathrooms as the top three most important aspects of a restaurant. 

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Another highlight from the findings is the importance of a venue's interior design and tableware. Six out of 10 respondents have high or very high expectations of these elements and eight out of 10 think that restaurants should put more effort into the quality of the tableware. Guests also look carefully at the restaurant interior at large – studying aspects ranging from details of the ceiling to the furniture and flowers.

The details around food and beverage preparations in the kitchen are also intriguing for guests. Six out of 10 respondents (61 percent) appreciate open kitchens where they can see how the food is prepared and even more guests (67 percent) appreciate that they can judge how clean and hygienic the kitchen is.

When it comes to the bathroom, nine out of 10 think that it is important that the bathrooms maintain at least the same standard as the dining area. And the cleanliness of the bathrooms is the second most common aspect that guests are dissatisfied with when visiting restaurants. High quality products such as toilet paper, paper towels and soap add to the experience for one in three respondents and six out of 10 expect high quality bathroom products as standard.