A recent Technomic survey found that 44% of all commercial restaurant meals are eaten off-premise. If takeout, delivery, grab-and-go, and catering are having such an impact among commercial restaurants, college & university (C&U) dining can’t be far behind. In fact, it’s here now.
According to the Technomic 2017 College & University Consumer Trend Report, 46% of college and university students’ meals are taken to go and 17% are delivered. Expected to grow even more, C&U operators must develop strategies for addressing the demand or lose to restaurant or third-party deliveries.
McDonald’s has partnered with Uber Eats for its new McDelivery service.
The challenge is much more than a delivery of a thin crust pizza from the local Papa John’s. In just one year, third-party delivery services have seen tremendous growth. Uber Eats has expanded from 10 to 45 cities and Doordash food deliveries have expanded from 17 to 650 cities. McDonald’s has partnered with Uber Eats for its new McDelivery service. Panera Bread hired an additional 10,000 employees to activate its own delivery service. Carrabba’s is testing its own delivery service, and other casual chains are expected to follow suit.
Gen Z and millennial consumers make up 55% of third-party delivery companies’ business—preferring them more than traditional restaurant deliveries. While restaurant deliveries continue to be dominated by pizza, third-party delivery orders tend to be more upscale entrees, appetizers, and salads.
Panera Bread hired an additional 10,000 employees to activate its own delivery service.
Off-premise strategies might involve fresh-cook grab-and-go stations, where packaging must preserve warmth and freshness from sustainable clamshells, to in-room delivery to dorms. To boost flavor and customization, portion-control packets must allow pouring and dipping.
At Houston’s Rice University, ready-to-go breakfast sandwiches and overnight oats cups have increased breakfast daypart transactions by 35%. Virginia Tech is experimenting with delivering food to dorms by drones.
A comprehensive strategy of serving students any way they want to be served will see C&U operators competing with commercial restaurants more in the next year.
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