Improved waiting area design increases customer comfort, study finds

May 09, 2012

Many diners cringe at the thought of waiting for a table in a crowded restaurant, while restaurant managers hope they do not lose customers due to long waits. Now, a University of Missouri researcher has studied restaurant design and has recommendations for how restaurateurs can design waiting areas to be more comfortable, thus increasing diners' willingness to wait for a table.

"Our study shows that waiting area design has an effect on diners," said So-Yeon Yoon, associate professor of architectural studies in the College of Human Environmental Sciences. "By redesigning waiting areas, owners can make more money, and customers can have a more enjoyable experience."

Yoon provides the following recommendations to increase customer comfort and privacy:

  • Design waiting areas with outward curving or angled walls, as opposed to open square rooms, so customers cannot see all waiting patrons at once;
  • Provide several waiting areas for customers, possibly on different sides of the restaurant, etc;
  • Visually divide the waiting space using plants or decorative elements to give diners more privacy and less sense of crowding.
Yoon conducted the study using a . Participants were presented with one of two randomly selected types of waiting areas in a virtual restaurant, each with a different level of crowding. Then, they navigated through the . Following the experiment, participants self-reported how the different crowding environments made them feel. Yoon found that participants who could see many waiting patrons felt less comfortable and were more likely to leave than those with fewer patrons waiting in close proximity.

In the future, Yoon plans to continue her research in the recently opened Immersive Visualization Lab (iLab). The MU iLab incorporates three large high-definition projection screens aligned side-by-side to create one continuous, horizontal viewing screen. Wearing special "active shutter" glasses, students are able to view their computer-generated architectural and interior designs on the screen in 3-D. The immersive effect of the large screen gives students the sensation of standing inside the buildings they are designing.

Explore further: Timing of the Ferguson case may have made the riots worse

More information: Yoon's study was published in the International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Restaurants cherry pick parties by size

May 09, 2011

Wait times quoted by restaurants typically increase depending on the size of the party. Though large parties are often given longer wait times, the actual time spent waiting to be seated turns out to be shorter than the ...

When shorter waits increase stress

Jan 08, 2008

People hate to wait, says common customer service insight. Marketers will hype their earnest attempts to shorten waiting times or at least promise to provide customers with information or distractions to make the waiting ...

Diners who use big forks eat less: study

Jul 14, 2011

Researchers have found a new way to control the amount we eat: use a bigger fork. While numerous studies have focused on portion sizes and their influence on how much we eat, researchers Arul and Himanshu Mishra and Tamara ...

'Subjective time' can improve your bottom line

Feb 04, 2010

Time flies when you're having fun, but minutes can feel like hours in a dentist's waiting room. Our ideas of "time" are highly subjective and can depend on a stimulus — or the lack of one — in our environment.

Recommended for you

Beyond human: Exploring transhumanism

Nov 25, 2014

What do pacemakers, prosthetic limbs, Iron Man and flu vaccines all have in common? They are examples of an old idea that's been gaining in significance in the last several decades: transhumanism. The word ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.