inKind Insights | June 2023

Dining Out ...
...Out Of Town

Summer is here and travel season is kicking into high gear. Honeymoons, summer breaks, and hundred degree days ahead means we're all thinking the same thing: how can I get to the nearest waterfront cocktail? One thing is for sure, dining is a major perk of travel, and more often than not, eating on vacation looks a lot different from eating or ordering in your hometown. Unique meals, new drinks, and convenience all shape the vacation experience—or does it?

To kick off our first inKind Insights series, we surveyed over 12,000 frequent diners to ask about their upcoming destinations, how they find the best restaurants, and what experiences they look for in new cities. It's going to be a busy season as 90% of the sample stated they will travel at least a handful of times this year. While only 12% of recipients pick their destinations solely based on the food, over half of this group said dining options played a role in their decision making. Across the board, New York City was clearly the most popular destination at 25%, followed by Los Angeles at 8%, and Chicago a close third at 7%.
New York City
25% of respondents chose New York City as their top food city.
Los Angeles
8% of respondents chose Los Angeles as their top food city.
7% of respondents chose Chicago as their top food city.
This summer, travelers are packing light and traveling full
Traveling is about the journey and, for some, the journey is about the planning. Most recipients reported a healthy mix of fast casual and fine dining. It's relatively easy to grab a table at a ramen spot, but at fine dining institutions, it's not as simple. As a result, it's not surprising that 20% of respondents book their reservations a month or more before their arrival. It's often the planning that can alleviate the stresses of traveling. Additionally we've found more than half of respondents even plan pre-flight meals by researching dining options at airport terminals or clubs before departure. Interestingly, almost half of those who hit the airport weekly build in time for a pre-flight meal or drink. Here is what our respondents thought of pre-flight dining:
How do you dine at airports?
32% brought snacks with them to the airport
29% get to there early enough to sit for a meal
25% build in time to grab a drink at the bar
14% Did not get food at the airport
Lately, our inKind team has been discussing airline-chef collaborations. Air France recently launched an inflight menu program in partnership with Michelin-starred chefs Michel Roth and Anne-Sophie Pic. The hope is that these lauded chefs may be the ticket for the food-obsessed to upgrade seats (if not change airlines entirely!). Our poll found less than 20% of travelers would be motivated by these VIP menus, but we're still keeping an eye out for more of these programs coming to U.S. airlines.
For some, traveling is about the journey and for others, the journey is about the planning.
After wheels touch the ground and hotel check in, it's time to eat. Gone are the days of breakfast in bed. Our diners reported room service is " too expensive" and "a last resort." In fact, less than 10% of our audience reported loving room service.
  • 68%

    Would never pick up fast food after a day of travel
  • 48%

    Would never order room service at a hotel
  • 8%

    Reported that they would choose a hotel based on it's dining options
Additionally, hotel restaurants are less of a draw nowadays. With so many restaurants just a walk or Uber ride away, we can see why diners are leaning towards leaving their hotel grounds. And with so many options from which to choose, the hardest part is arriving at a group consensus. When we asked our respondents how they determine where to dine, 77% of them said the most important factor is what

they've read online. "Food-first" reviews are foremost considered, putting lesser emphasis on exclusivity, personnel, and price. In fact the vast majority of respondents left their budget at home when planning trips. When there's so much good food to eat, it might be worth it to throw caution to the wind. We get it!
Let's take a look at three interesting segments below, and how their habits differ from the norm.
  • 1
    Exclusive Diners
    When respondents were asked their top factors when picking a restaurant in a new city, 10% answered, "exclusivity." At inKind HQ we definitely have more than a few that agree—hard to get reservations and passwords to speakeasy concepts are social currency. These exclusive diners are far less likely to order room service or seek discounts at their destination. Instead, they're more likely to reserve in advance, with 25% of cases making reservations as much as a month in advance. They are also two times more likely to pick hotels based on its restaurants when compared to the rest of respondents. Finally, these exclusive diners are much more likely to take a recommendation from a trusted friend. Word of mouth is still king.
  • 2
    Destination Diners
    Just over 12% of respondents told us where they dine is the primary motivator in picking a vacation destination. Whether through an online article, FOMO from an Instagram post, or a TikTok inspo page, it's easier than ever for brands to get their food on the phones of diners around the country. spicy rigatoni from Carbone, slices from Prince Street Pizza, and bagels from Black Seed Bagels are household names for many avid diners. While these diners travel less often, they are 18% more likely to have left the United States for dining experiences abroad.
  • 3
    Frequent Flyers
    While most people are traveling this year, only 25% of our sample travels at least once or more per month. These frequent flyers are less likely to book travel based on specific restaurants, are more likely to order room service, and are less concerned with the price tag. This group tends to be business travelers—those flying with objectives beyond eating. These users, however, pay much more attention to the airport experience. They're arriving early enough to eat, researching dining options at the terminals, and are more likely to consider chef collaborations when booking an airline.
The inKind Insights series aims to delve into how people who frequent restaurants dine. Whether on vacation or at home, splurging on wine or grabbing tacos, these polls are a way for us to interact with you—our members. While we're always looking to find the best restaurants and create memorable experiences, we're also creating a space to leverage information and evaluate industry trends. With restaurateurs and hospitality titans in mind, we hope to assist in pushing the industry to meet the ever-changing needs of the most important stakeholder—you, the diner.
Insights compiled by:
Ethan Gershenfeld

For more information contact:
Joann Jen