Please tell Advisor more about Levy Restaurants’ work in tourist attractions?

We provide award-winning catering at destinations that include The Barbican, Edinburgh and Bristol Zoos, National Railway Museum, Salisbury Cathedral and Hever Castle.

Food and catering play an important part in ensuring a seamless customer journey at museums and visitor attractions. Visitors are now spending more on food and demand better quality, originality and perfect customer service from the catering partners at museums and attractions.

As a partner to some of the leading museums and heritage venues in the UK, we recognise the importance that food has on a day out and how it can affect footfall and dwell time. With this in mind, we have been created bespoke concepts for this increasingly sophisticated audience.

This is why we have been sponsoring the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA), for the second year running. Our partnership with ALVA is vital to our understanding of the key drivers in the visitor attraction market and will allow us to continue delivering exceptional customer experiences.

Jonathan Davidson, business director Levy Restaurants

What are the biggest challenges you face catering in the tourism industry and how do you overcome them?

We are seeing a number of trends within the tourism market and constantly adapt our catering offer to meet these requirements and exceed customer expectations.

Value-for-money is very important for customers when visiting tourist attractions. Underlining the continuing impact of squeezed family incomes, a study conducted by Mintel recently, two in five attraction visitors have looked for special offers or discounts before deciding where to visit.

It is essential that we work in partnership with our clients to ensure the value message is communicated to customers. Catering is an essential part of this message alongside other key drivers such as ambience, overall satisfaction, education and affordable escapism.

Innovation is also essential in reigniting consumers’ enthusiasm for spending on catering and emphasising its role as part of the overall leisure experience. As market leaders, we continually provide innovation through ambient design concepts, menu creation, customer-focused technologies and by ultimately creating unique, personalised customer experiences.

We want our visitors to develop a personal affiliation to that attraction venue so we create bespoke offerings for our clients. Great examples include the signature cupcakes we developed at the Museum of Science and Industry following a kids’ cupcake competition, or the special apple strudel we created at Leeds Castle, using original recipes from the estate.

Healthy eating and sustainability are also still very much at the centre of consumer requirements and we provide a wide choice of options to meet visitor’s needs. The venues we operate for the Science Museum Group (SMG) for example, have recently been awarded a star rating by the Sustainable Restaurant Association and at Edinburgh Zoo we were awarded a bronze Food for Life Catering Mark by the Soil Association.

To what extent is your business seasonal and how does this impact your operation?

Each business that we work with has a seasonal aspect to its offering according to its target market and location. For example, Somerset House is busier during the summer months with the opening of Tom’s Terrace, while retail store Liberty is busy during the run-up to Christmas and Savill Gardens is seasonal and dependent on the weather.

Visitor numbers will also fluctuate depending on individual special exhibitions and the pulling power these may have. For us, it is important to work closely with the venues’ events teams, ensuring our food marketing calendar is in line with these seasonal variations and that our offers are adapted accordingly.

What are your top tips for success in the sector?

Within this market I’d say the top tips would be; create unique food experiences and integrate them into the overall customer journey, provide value-for-money, understand your customer and be memorable.

Levy Restaurants will be at the Museums + Heritage Show in April 2015.