Pub and bar sector comes up smelling badly in report on washroom facilities

Pubs, bars and nightclubs have been named as some of the worst offenders for poor quality toilet facilities in a poll of British consumers.

40% of people said pubs and bars had the worst toilets, and more than a third said nightclubs (35%). Only train toilets were considered to be worse.

However, restaurants were generally considered to have good loos with only 7% citing a bad experience in these environments.

And not all operators fare badly. When it comes to those getting it right, Wetherspoon pubs scored highly with many respondents saying how clean the toilets tended to be. McDonalds was also cited for having good loos.

Laminate manufacturer Formica Group revealed the UK’s innermost thoughts on public toilets in a report entitled ‘Lifting the Lid on Washrooms’ after exploring what the requirements of future toilet design within the hospitality sector might be.

Some respondents felt that restaurants (15%) and bars (17%) could improve by offering more toilets. Although, compared to shopping centres, where over two out of five (41%) highlighted a lack of facilities, the casual dining sector fared well.

Both sexes overwhelmingly believe shopping centres have the fewest loos to cater for the numbers of visitors, with trains next (36%) and bars third (17%).

Interestingly, these are all places where space is at a premium, and where there is temptation to fit in a few more shops, tables, passengers, or seats, rather than extra amenities.

Cleanliness is a major factor for operators to consider when it comes to the look and finish of a public loo, the report said.

Overall, people’s main concerns when using public toilets were hygiene (66%), lack of facilities such as paper and soap (54%) and lack of privacy (41%). A massive 76% say that a clean toilet is the most important decorative and interior consideration for public bathrooms.

Two thirds of Brits (66%) regularly decide not to use a loo because it looks dirty; this is despite the publicly posted cleaning rotas within many hospitality bathrooms. Either these are not being followed or at busy times the toilet cleaning gets deprioritised, Formica Group said.

People also think toilets smell unpleasant (68%) and more than half of us (52%) think that public loos have more germs than our home ones.

Operators should also take note of some of the most popular requests that consumers have made, including a hands free flush (60%), better soundproofing (32%) and a faster flush filling system (29%).

Joe Bell, UK marketing manager at Formica Group, comments: “With huge competition in the hospitality sector, the state of an establishment’s toilets can make or break the overriding experience and influence whether a customer returns or not. It is also this type of scenario that ends up on social media, damaging a brand’s reputation.

“With hygiene paramount in the dining-out sector, clean toilets should be second nature. Small adjustments to the design, fixtures and fittings can help flush away poor perceptions and restore public confidence by making washrooms more pleasant environments”.

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