Generation Z is seeking a more sophisticated hotel dining experience, the latest roundtable staged by UAE-headquartered hospitality firm TIME Hotels has revealed.
The third in its four-part round table series of travel, tourism and lifestyle discussions found expat teens still liked buffets but demanded daily menu changes and more innovative cuisine.
The Generation Z group also flagged hygiene as a major concern, citing negative experiences when travelling outside of the UAE.
The next generation of frequent travellers and foodie tourists (those born around the year 2000 through the 2010s) was represented by a dozen pupils from years 10, 12 and 13 (15-18-year-old) from Dubai English Speaking College (DESC) and The Winchester School Jebel Ali.
They came together at TIME Oak Hotel & Suites Dubai to talk about the city’s dining scene, their personal food adventures and the impact of the growing global nutrition and wellness movement on their diet.
The group was split on the issue of kids’ menus, with the rugby players from DESC dismissing the thought of chicken nuggets and small portions, while others remarked that a kids’ menu meal was still an option in terms of providing an adequate portion size (adult portions were often considered too large) or a quick fix if in the mood for something familiar.
“I feel like kids’ menus underestimate the palate and our taste preferences, especially as we become more globalised with the Internet giving us more access to different food and cultures,” remarked 15-year-old Alijaeh Go.
DESC student Max Johnson, agreed, and said: “You mature as you grow up and are more willing to try new things, so [for kids’ menus] the range needs to be bigger and offer different things.”
When asked what restaurants can do to make their menus more appealing, Abhinav Nair from Wellington School remarked: “There are too many brunches and buffets; we are becoming immune to what’s on offer and they don’t interest us anymore.”
All 13 roundtable participants considered themselves relatively healthy eaters, apart from when they travel; however, with a new impending directive that restaurants feature at least two healthy dishes on their menu, it was a resounding “no” when asked if they would consider this their first dining choice – unless the options were innovative and different (“not just another salad!”).