Paul Christodoulou from Bolsius Professional shares the latest insight into what customers are looking for when dining out this winter. 

“This month I had the rare opportunity of sitting down and engaging with key figures in the hospitality industry as they prepared for what could be their busiest time of the year. Focus being on customer expectation and the role of ambiance in creating a memorable experience. Here are my key takeaways and considerations.”

It goes without saying that there is a consistent challenge of turning a strong profit, when the hospitality sector must contend with rising food costs, energy price increases and the added pressures of recruiting and retaining staff. However, within discussions it was inspiring to hear that the consensus was one of positivity and championing those that are navigating and seemingly winning – with continued investment and new openings of hotels, restaurants, and pubs.  

With it leading into one of the busiest times of year, the one thing that stood out was that customer experience needed to be maximised, which we know means paying close attention to creating an atmosphere in which the customer feels comfortable and special. 

For 150 years, our craftsmanship has lit up places where people come together. Our rich history, which began in 1870, has given our company a solid basis. With more than 1000 employees, we are the largest candle manufacturer in Europe and Bolsius Professional is designed specifically for the catering and hospitality market.

With 61% of consumers looking for a unique experience they can’t recreate at home – the hospitality sector’s focus is on giving that bit extra to customers and making their dining experiences even more memorable. As night outs may be less frequent but more special, atmosphere, value for money and service have all risen on the list of priorities for those visiting hospitality venues. 

Evoke the senses 

The Autumn and Christmas period is the ideal time to maximise on creating carefully curated warm and cosy spaces. When setting the scene, incorporate more than one design element so it appeals to all the customer’s senses. 

Engaging multiple senses can mean the customer creates a stronger and more memorable connection to a brand and ensures a lasting impression has been made.  More than two thirds of UK consumers consider lighting and candlelight important to their dining experience.

With this in mind, the live flame of a candlelight can create feelings of warmth and intrigue and themes can be introduced by simply using different candles: from tapered candles in candelabras to glass-filled tabletop options.

Smell and the acoustics of a space are also key to creating that perfect energy. If the ambient music is too loud, the lighting too harsh or a room heavily perfumed the whole customer experience can be ruined. Smaller businesses that don’t have the budget to completely re-invent themselves, candles, diffusers, background music all play a part in creating that warm welcome. 

Also, when these individual elements are combined, they go a long way in encouraging customers to relax and immerse themselves in their surroundings. Our own research has told us that candlelight ambiance invites consumers to stay longer and spend more.  It is a simple design element that can make a space incredibly inviting. 

Getting the ambiance right can set an establishment apart from its competitors and delivering it alongside exceptional customer service is paramount for repeat business.

First-class Service 

Doing the same thing is no longer an option. Customers are after an authentic experience when they go out. With tighter purse strings, they are looking for value for their spending. This doesn’t necessarily mean offering the cheapest option but providing quality and a sense of worth of the price; highlighting the use of high-quality, fresh ingredients in dishes and drinks and making sure pricing is transparent, with no hidden fees or surprises on the bill.   

Attention to detail is also under scrutiny, from receiving a drink in the first five minutes, down to the warmth and engagement of the staff, to even having a candle on the table and wine being served in the right glass. These small touches go a long way in encouraging customers to spend more and extend their stay. 


Not a new innovation, but brands are now looking to social media for both brand awareness and customer feedback. As well as obtaining instant on the ground feedback, this is where they can truly understand the customers’ needs and desires. Open Table, the online real-time reservation tool is also used in the industry to provide a more analytical perspective of the customer’s journey. 

Sustainability Talks 

Consumers now value sustainability in all areas of their lives: drinking or dining out are no exception. They want to know the carbon footprint of dishes so they can make informed decisions to consciously reduce their impact on the environment and the climate.  At Bolsius Professional, we go above and beyond to make sure that our candle collections are produced sustainably with care for people and planet. We’ve eliminated palm oil and animal fats – instead, our candles contain plant-based wax from Europe. And we use recycled plastic and recyclable materials where possible.