Some 15% of customers have left an establishment because they couldn’t charge their device, according to figures from the wireless charging provider Chargifi. Of 18 to 44-year-olds, 20% agreed that they had left for this reason before.
In its survey of more than 2,000 pub and restaurant visitors, it found almost half of customers (46%) would be encouraged to stay longer and order more if they could charge up.
Chargifi CEO and co-founder Dan Bladen said: “In 2019, access to power is a deal-breaker for guests and customers who are looking to stay connected 24/7.
“Easy access to power is no longer a luxury, it is a basic need and the hospitality industry is now quickly recognising this.”
A charged phone means access to contactless pay and a taxi home, which can boost a customer’s length of stay and spend.
“Whether this be for ApplePay or GooglePay, being able to keep phones charged for transactions is an important function for the majority of users that walk through the door,” explained Ian Lishman, the commercial director at Brewhouse & Kitchen.
He said: “Guests also need their phones to pay for Uber, Oyster cards and ordering food and drinks. Therefore, having facilities that consumers are requesting is what enables us to drive footfall.
“We want guests to be able to visit our sites with the confidence that we can cater to their needs and they can enjoy their time in our pubs comfortably.”
Last month, brewer and pub chain Samuel Smith joined in with another trend of pub operators banning mobile phone use.
In a memo to staff, it said: “The brewery’s policy is that our pubs are for social conversation person to person.”
However, others have said that mobile devices are an essential part of enabling a good pub experience.
“Phones are no longer a luxury but an essential,” Lishman said.
The provision of chargers appeals to two of its key demographics, professionals who want to work from a laptop and Millennials who will use their phone regardless of the purpose of their visit.
Brewhouse & Kitchen, Stonegate and BrewDog are among those to install ChargedUp power banks, which provide portable chargers that can be returned to any other station.
“Pubs and bar designers are trying to be very Instagrammable and to get people sharing on social media. You need people’s phones to be charged to do that,” added Charlie Baron, co-founder of the rental network.
“The customers absolutely love it but it is also for the operators – everyone is moving digital-focused, mobile-first, skipping queues via the phone,” Baron said.
Some operators might be concerned that adding in another service would increase staff workload and lead to problems.
However, Lishman, said installing portable chargers across B&K’s sites has had the opposite effect.
“Not only has this freed up time for team members on the floor, but the concept is easy to use and very simple for both staff and consumers,” he said.
“This means that our staff are able to focus on serving guests and ensuring that they have the best possible experience when visiting our brewpubs.”
Charging solutions available to hospitality businesses include portable chargers and wireless chargers that can be fixed to tables.