27th April, 2018

3 ways to stand out in a crowded hospitality market

Do you want to start your dream café or restaurant but are worried you may not stand out from the crowd?

Hospitality is truly a crowded market right now.

New cafes seem to open almost daily, and it’s hard for a new player and sometimes even for established venues to stand out.

One of the challenges is to stay fresh and relevant as well as maintain the things your customers love about you.

But you can do it. Here are three ways to attract attention.

1. Have something different

Offer something different to what’s already out there – and it doesn’t necessarily need to be a mind-blowing menu.

For example, one successful bar incorporated old Italian style ornate furniture that was a real standout.  No one else was using this style of pre-loved furniture.

There could be something unique about where you’re located.

For example, you could set up in an old bank vault, a cliff overlooking the beach, a train in the sky – it’s about  thinking beyond the standard shopfront on a commercial road.

Meanwhile, you could consider having a product exclusive to your venue.

It could be a beer you’ve brewed yourself, your Nonna’s super-secret sugo recipe, or specialising in a less common cuisine.

Another idea is to engage a particular chef, barista or DJ that is only with your venue.

2. Do something different

If you don’t have something different that is enough on its own to make you stand out you might like to consider doing something different.

Here are some ideas that have worked for other venues:

  • Not having a menu rather be able to suggest ideas and fulfil requests
  • Having a limited menu
  • Not having a pricelist and letting customers pay what they think is fair for the meal or service
  • Holding special events that are different. Think ‘pancakes and poetry’ as opposed to ‘pint and parma’
  • Do something that was popular in the past but maybe needs a fresh twist like offering Smorgasboard. Who’s brave enough to trial fondue?
  • Be open at different hours to your competitors

Have a think about how you currently operate and what you might be able to do differently for example could staff serve on roller skates, people order using ipads at the table, have customers sharing tables with you introducing people their table guests.

It doesn’t need to be as drastic as roller skates, but think about how you can do something completely different.

3. Look different

One way to stand out is to look different.

Maybe this is being bold with your colours and brand or choosing a stand out position for your business premise.

Having a different décor that can be seen either on your website or from outside the venue can attract attention.

For example, the Young and Jackson hotel in Melbourne is well-known for ‘Chloe’, a painting which hangs upstairs – with plenty of people going to see Chloe and getting a drink as an afterthought.

On the extreme end is creating a theme for your business.

Maybe your staff could dress in fancy dress, or have your premises fit a particular era in time, a country, or even a hobby.


Across all industries there are products and services that are the same, and that can be death in a crowded marketplace.

People make choices not based on products, but the experience they receive as customers.

So while you should focus on providing excellent service to stand out, there are other things you can do to put your venue over the top.

After all being a full café, restaurant, bar with people waiting to get in is one of the best ways to stand out!