Survey finds 89% of customers will avoid restaurants with poor washroom hygiene

James Michael Lafferty, CEO of Fine Hygienic Holding

A survey commissioned by Fine Solutions, the away-from-home division of Fine Hygienic Holding, has highlighted the importance of hygiene in the dining experience post Covid-19 lockdown. 89% of UAE customers are unwilling to revisit a restaurant with poor washroom hygiene. The survey by Kantar Middle East was created to understand the customer perspective and the correlation between loyalty and restroom hygiene. The survey of 500 respondents was conducted online across different nationalities, affluence levels and cities.

The main findings show that customers placed more importance on cleanliness in the washroom, 50%, than in the kitchen, 48%, or interior, the area including tables, chairs, floor and billing counter, 47%, when it comes to hygiene factors that matter most in a restaurant. Elsewhere, cleanliness and operational condition, 62%, were found to be the most important hygiene factors in a restaurant restroom.

The survey has uncovered some interesting findings on consumer preference towards hygiene and cleanliness, in an era when business can be affected by poor customer reviews and social media coverage. Although customers expect high hygiene standards across any outlet, the cleanliness of the dining area and restroom stand out. Customer perception of washroom hygiene is influenced by several attributes including the cleanliness and overall operational condition of toilets and hand washing area, dryness of floors, and availability of sanitation products.

Although customers expect high hygiene standards across any outlet, the cleanliness of the dining area and restroom stand out

Cleanliness and availability of sanitation products in the restroom were rated highly important. Interestingly, while toilet cleanliness rated higher among female respondents, the availability of sanitation products such as wipes and sanitisers on tables polled higher among males. Taking a deep dive into hand hygiene, 79% of customers preferred paper towels over hand dryers, citing speed, health and texture as the main reason for their preference. Absorption power, biodegradable aspects and texture were the three most important attributes for paper towel users.

Sterilised paper hand towels were also preferred to regular paper towels by 66% of those surveyed. The overall preference for paper towels fits in with a number of scientific studies which show that hand dryers spread 1,300 times more germs than paper towels. According to the study, preference for paper towels was found to be the highest among Arabs, 87%, with absorption rated most important by Asian Expats, and thickness and brand considered most important in cities.

James Michael Lafferty, CEO of Fine Hygienic Holding, said: “This survey comes at an important time for both consumers and brands as we navigate the new normal of everyday life in the time of the Covid pandemic. Operators and brands are still adjusting to life post lockdown, implementing new protocols and adhering to new directives, and tackling the realities of business and life while re-engaging with their core customers. We understand the importance of hygiene, it drives everything we do as a business. And this study emphasises how highly customers and consumers place these considerations when it comes to their choices and their behaviour.”

Fine Dining survey highlights importance of a clean restroom to customers
Fine Dining survey highlights importance of a clean restroom to customers.