Savvy restauranteurs and coffee shop owners know restaurant noise is a problem and often ask, “How can I make my restaurant quieter?”
Restaurants are notoriously noisy. Furthermore, many restaurants don’t realize the potential business that they are losing to hard-of-hearing patrons who, rather than speak up about the noise or ask for accommodations, just stop going out to eat.
Are restaurant noise complaints a problem for your restaurant or café?
The World Health Organization shares that 33% of people over the age of 65 have hearing loss. Moreover, for people of all ages, sensory overload is a common problem. This easily makes up a good portion of your clientele for an eatery, pub or bar.
Subsequently, seniors are often left wondering, “Where can I find quiet restaurants?” It is important to know that hearing aids do not solve the problem. Many people with hearing loss who wear hearing aids are left wondering, “Why are restaurants so much louder now?” Simply put, hearing aids amplify all the sounds. Customers are worried, “Are noisy restaurants harmful to your health?”. We encourage you to be the restaurant that makes the simple and easy changes to allay and eliminate this fear.
A Better Restaurant Experience for Seniors with Hearing Loss
Research shows that people who are hard of hearing often simply avoid eating at restaurants, which creates social isolation and a sense of exclusion. Additionally, if you’re a restauranteur, the lost revenue may be significant.
At Sensory Friendly Solutions, we conducted a survey in May 2020:
- More than 60% of respondents reported that noise was a factor in choosing where to eat out. More than 40% of respondents said that noise was a very important factor when picking a restaurant.
- 35% of survey respondents eat out once a week, and more than 40% eat out monthly.
- More than 45% of respondents spend between $101-$400 per month at restaurants.
“I definitely eat out less often because of my hearing loss. It’s not fun when you can’t participate with your friends.” – Survey respondent.
“If a restaurant is overly noisy, it creates anxiety, stress, and frustration. If I’m not able to enjoy a quiet meal and conversation, I might as well stay home.” – Survey respondent.
“Most of our clients do not advocate for themselves because it becomes exhausting. They simply opt not to go. They think, ‘I don’t need to fight that battle.’” – Heather Chandler, New Brunswick Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
“If there is loud music, kitchen noise or the ceiling is open… it makes it impossible to hear almost anything. I would choose not to eat there again.” – Survey respondent.
Hard of hearing people who eat out report feeling:
- In pain
There’s a Better Way Than Noisy Restaurants
You may be curious what are the most effective and low-cost changes you can make to your current restaurant to make it reduce noise levels. Good news! We created a 3-part user-friendly set of tips for seniors, their dining companions and restaurants.
Learn more about chair balls, chair socks and chair glides to reduce the noise from chairs scraping against the floor. Because being sensory-friendly is being senior-friendly. For more ideas on ways you can reduce noise in your restaurant, check out Second Skin’s blog post.
Finally, if your location or event is more than just a restaurant, consider things like senior shopping hours too.
Trish Hamilton is a 28-year radio veteran turned Digital Marketer. She has an extensive background in all things media and enjoys writing, editing, and blogging. She lives happily with her partner, Tim and three children, Allison (23), Lauren (16), and Emerson (6). Find her at E2M Marketing: https://e2mmarketingmedia.wordpress.com/