EOTHO, Contactless Payments And Online Booking Services: The COVID-19 Innovations Hospitality Wants To Keep

Contactless payments, the Eat Out to Help Out scheme and online booking systems are the pandemic industry innovations the hospitality sector wants to keep going forward, according to research from Nespresso Professional.

The research, which polled 1,000 individuals from across the hospitality industry, including 500 senior leaders, explores the ways businesses have adapted and innovated over the past 12 months, as well as priorities for the future as we emerge from the pandemic.

Since the beginning of the pandemic in March last year, Nespresso Professional found that 90% of hospitality businesses have adapted in some form. Over half (54%) of those asked stated they wanted to keep contactless payments because it helps to run the business more efficiently, while one in four (42%) felt the technology was less stressful for employees.

Adapting to customer and government requirements key to hospitality pivots

Eat Out to Help Out, the government scheme introduced last August to encourage diners back into restaurants, was identified as a crucial innovation over the last year. Three quarters (74%) of research respondents found that the scheme was very or somewhat effective in helping them to survive the pandemic.

Contactless payments also came out on top in terms of technologies businesses have relied on in order to adapt, with 41% of respondents stating this technology. Touchless hand sanitiser (33%) was revealed as second and online booking systems (31%) was named in third place.

A third (32%) of senior leaders also state that social media was a key driver for business adaptation because of the pandemic, helping consumers to connect online while hotels, restaurants and cafés haven’t always been open to visit in person. Of senior leaders surveyed, 27% of business owners say it has been the biggest saviour for their business this past year.

Looking more broadly at the non-technological ways that the industry has pivoted their business, offering a takeaway service (41%), focusing more on outdoor space (36%) and introducing a new product or service (32%) were the top three ways businesses have adapted to survive during the pandemic.

Beth Langley, OOH Director at Nespresso Professional, commented on the research: “It’s been a hugely challenging year across the hospitality sector, yet the resilience, innovation and adaptability showcased has been incredible to see.

“It’s clear that the digital aspects of hospitality are here to stay, with contactless payments, online bookings and social media all prominent features that have been adopted, expanded or delivered by business owners in the last 12 months.

“The one constant that remains is that the customer continues to be the primary focus for the industry and at Nespresso we work to help businesses meet changing customer needs, with a focus on innovative and flexible solutions. For example, our new Nespresso Momento Touchless range delivers a quality coffee experience without needing to touch the machine, allowing for safer coffee moments and peace of mind.”

Reasons for adopting new technologies

When looking at the reasons why businesses chose contactless payments, online booking services and touchless sanitiser, one fifth (20%) of senior leaders said this was because these were the most cost effective way to reassure customers, whereas another 21% felt these were the most effective way to reach new customers.

Consumers are also at the heart of sustainability decisions for hospitality businesses too, with two thirds (67%) highlighting it will become even more of a priority over the next year and just under half (46%) of all individuals surveyed saying customer demand is a driver for sustainability initiatives in the future. Nespresso is currently working hard to ensure that every customer can enjoy a carbon neutral cup of coffee by the end of 2022.

Exploring the practical elements used to entice customers, a quarter of those surveyed (24%) said they had added takeaway beverages to their menus, and a third (34%) had invested in better quality coffee to help entice new customers with an improved coffee offering.