The hospitality industry has been thrown into a spin during 2020, which has created challenges and disruption for every business owner. Some argue that the industry was already broken, nevertheless operators have been prompted to innovate - which has taught every business owner to take a step back, a deep look within, assume control and apply wholesale changes across their business to maximise its effectiveness moving forward into this post-Covid era.
Here are come of the common trends:
Cloud Based Operations
Legacy Point of Sale systems are inflexible and most are unable to incorporate key business functions such as inventory control, staffing and more. Furthermore, the hardware dates rapidly and the data remains on location. Cloud environments and infrastructure enable more scalable workflows, so hospitality businesses can better share resources and insights; whether team members are at home, travelling, on location or at head offices. Operationally the ability to freely integrate with external payment systems, accounting software, employee scheduling tools and other third party applications such as online food ordering aggregators - makes the switch too convenient not to take up.
The same applies for reservations management solutions helping cafes, restaurants, bars, pubs and hotels efficiently manage bookings of all areas and help to ensure that social-distancing measures are met. The best systems mitigate risk of double-bookings, provide security for no-shows and some can even drive revenue management solutions by machine learning algorithms to allow businesses to unlock the value in every square metre of their venues - from function spaces, outdoor areas, meeting areas, private dining rooms etc. These solutions assist business owners to expand their inventory, apply best practice and social distancing whilst creating new revenue sources for the business.
Takeaway (A Revenue Stream In Its Own Right)
Takeaway was a revenue component for a lot of food hospitality businesses prior to Covid; but many customers who started buying takeaway during lockdown (when only takeaway was available) may now be more likely to opt for takeaway as opposed to dining in. Social distancing has also raised the issue that some potential customers do not want to queue with other patrons, and like to utilise pre-order and collection applications to minimise human contact time - having suitable takeaway and delivery solutions which work for the business has maximised the reach for a lot of operators. Good takeaway solutions are operationally lean and business owners have caught on that this can be a high profit margin revenue stream when executed properly.
From a business owners point of view social distancing measures have increased the need to extract as much value as possible from every table. Interestingly though the consumer is conditioned by the growing demand for great hospitality experiences, the limited supply of these experiences and the industry approach to apply timed reservations for dining in - the product of this is often a higher customer spend within a shorter timeframe. The value of robust booking management systems are crucial in maximising the efficiency of turning tables; and a predetermined timeslot acts as a polite reminder when needing the table back.
Customers want to know that a business is taking the right precautions and that they are prioritising health and safety, food handling and venue cleanliness – it breeds consumer confidence. It pays to advertise, communicate and demonstrate your business COVID-plan – from signage upon entry, directing customer flow, to staff wiping down surfaces, staff managing the environment, to the table where sanitiser, venue check in, single use menus and messages are provided.
No More Sharing
Pre-Covid dining trends often steered customers towards a sharing experience from numerous small plates, great sharing bowls and finger platters to sitting together on large communal tables. Good chefs have been forced to reconsider what the diner will accept and what they are most comfortable with. The details even come down to the smalls… no more communal cutlery, sharing spoons or condiments.
You cannot completely dehumanise hospitality, the industry is almost standalone in that regard, without human contact you have an oversized vending machine or a ghost kitchen… it becomes something else entirely. In reinviting customers back into the business and opening arms to new customers, business owners have never put a greater emphasis on providing great service and delivering on an excellent customer experience. Staff also appreciate their employment now than they ever have in recent times, which is an additional motivator for the staff to lead from the front.
Most people are comfortable at home and in their local surroundings, which became their safety bubble during the lockdown. Now across the whole industry there has never been a greater emphasis on business owners reaching out to loyal and local customers, supporting local initiatives, rubbing shoulders with neighbouring businesses and buying from local suppliers.
If at best post-Covid hospitality provided business owners with a reset button, then is there any reason not to push it?