How Technology Can Change the Hospitality Sector in The UK After Reopening

By Kunal Sawhney, CEO of Kalkine (www.kalkine.co.uk)

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way the hospitality sector operates. One whole year the sector faced stiff challenges as most were forced to shut down their restaurants, pubs, and bars as part of the lockdown restrictions.

Some restaurants/hotels scaled up and boosted the use of online order management, delivery technologies and digital loyalty platforms in a bid to survive the pandemic. Now with the opening of the hospitality sector after the restrictions are being relaxed post lockdown, restaurants, pubs, and bars are gearing up to revive their businesses with new hygiene and physical separation measures, contactless orders, and con-

tact-less payment technologies.

Technology again has brought in rapid changes in the sectors as many restaurants, pubs, and bars are switching and offering digital solutions. A McKinsey Global Survey of executives in 2020 has highlighted how the pandemic has accelerated the digitisation of all hospitality platforms by a minimum of three to four years, thereby bringing in changes in the busi- ness supply chain.The primary challenge for the owners is to adopt the right technologies and use them to communicate with their customers. The government is also working on initiatives for contactless dining, which at present is driving the market growth.

CONTACTLESS DINING

One can describe contactless dining as a way to reduce customer physical contact at restaurants and bars. Many eating joints have opted for contactless options where they send the food menu on mobile phones of the customers. Customers scan the QR code provided by the restaurants and can order through them.

TECHNOLOGIES AND TOOLS

As restaurants didn’t have customers and visitors till now, delivery platforms were gaining popularity. Now, as the sector is gradually open- ing, the restaurants should adopt a thorough system to process delivery orders and manage delivery pickups. Also, to reduce the costs and dependency on manpower, technology excellence will be needed to manage orders and payments efficiently.

Prominent delivery platforms, Uber Eats, Deliveroo, Glovo, and Just Eat are known to apply user-friendly means.They provide a sales platform to restaurants and manage the delivery process. More and more restaurants will now have to integrate them into their operational flow.

Besides, the restaurants can also take technological assistance to man- age inventory and plan supply for their joints.Taking technical help will reduce human error, repetition, wastage and also over-ordering.

Talking about the adoption of new technology into the hospitality sector, Rupert Gutteridge, Chief Revenue Officer, pay platform Ordamo, said that the digital and contactless menus and payments are yet to gain popularity as the hospitality sector highly depends on interaction with the customers.The tech platform does not offer you that passion for communication.

He added that most restaurant owners fear that full digitisation of the restaurants, pubs and bars will lead to loss of customers. But Covid-19 painted a different picture of social distancing and isolation, changing the basics of operations.

EYE ON FUTURE

The benefits of ordering online are many. Restaurant owners should now chalk out a plan to picture a post-Covid world and see what all apps can support and complement their operations. Owners can take advantage of the apps or tools to manage customer reviews, delivery, and schemes like voucher distribution and loyalty points.

As Gutteridge had mentioned that the hospitality sector, which was always depends on personal touch and communication, may change invariably with the introduction and adoption of contactless menu, payment, and ordering.That would mean the adoption of technology would make the sector less hospitable and warm.