It should come as no surprise that college students have pretty irregular schedules, from classes at all hours of the day to late nights spent in the library or out partying.

And according to a recent GrubHub survey, restaurants are cashing in on this up-all-hours mindset. The survey shows that many kids are getting the “midnight munchies” and turning to restaurants to satisfy their late-night cravings.

In fact, in comparison to the typical GrubHub diner, college students order late-night meals (orders placed between 12 and 2 a.m.) an average of 24 percent more often.

Interestingly, the survey also reported that smaller, private colleges—like School of the Art Institute in Chicago and Babson College in Boston—beat out larger state schools—such as Ohio State University and University of Florida, Gainesvile—when it comes to percentage of late-night orders.

“We found that some of these small liberal arts colleges actually had higher volume than what these standard, larger state schools,” says Abby Hunt, public relations manager at GrubHub. “What you would tend to think would have even higher volumes actually were on the lower volume side.”

But no matter the size of the campus, Hunt says restaurants can capitalize on the late-night dining habits of college students if they take the right steps.

“The main takeaway for restaurants is there is tons of opportunity if you extend your late night hours if you’re in a college market to bring in orders from college diners,” she says.

Aside from instituting late-night hours around campus, Hunt says restaurants must also make sure they’re mobile.

“The younger generation does everything from a mobile device,” she says. “So as long as you can get your menu on a mobile app and people have the accessibility of ordering food from a mobile device … the chances of a student or somebody like that ordering food from your restaurant are much higher than if you’re not available on a mobile device.”

She adds that being flexible and open to working with ordering services like GrubHub can expand after-hours business. “We have this kind of data,” Hunt says, “ and we’re working with [restaurants] to help them understand what diners need.”

By Mary Avant

Consumer Trends, News, Ordering