Professional Comment

How Throwing Out Old Rules and Trying New Tech is a Recipe for Re-opening Success

Dan Joyce, General Manager EMEA of SafetyCulture, explains how upending a longstanding cornerstone of hospitality can help the industry get safely back to business.

After being in limbo for the last few months, businesses finally have a roadmap to reopening. In seven weeks, the hospitality industry will partially reopen and welcome back customers. But business as usual will not be an option — unlike lockdowns, risk doesn’t have an expiry date.

New research has revealed that making pubs and bars COVID-safe is very difficult to do effectively, and despite the UK’s successful rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, it’s evident that hospitality businesses need to keep safety their number one priority.

Doing so involves upending a longstanding corner-stone of hospitality — in this new world, the customer is not always right.

One of the biggest challenges for businesses right now is the steep rise in complacency, from both customers and weary staff. Customer reluctance to com- ply with pandemic protocols like mask-wearing and social distancing compound the difficulties businesses already face with a series of evolving government guidelines.

As the eyes and ears on the ground, staff members are best placed to implement such safety practices. But it also increases their exposure to potentially negative interactions and high-pressure situations with customers.

Building positive customer rapport is a new ballgame. Now is the time to consider what new training your staff need to do their best work.As guidelines continue to shift retraining staff will become a key part of business. Consider introducing new safety training methods that lean into ways people are consuming media, such as mobile-first platforms that feature smaller chunks of information.When repeated often, these micro-lessons can help ingrain practices in memory.

Technology can go a long way towards improving employees and customers’ experience.The right tools can act as a buffer and a boon for employees — making sure every detail and element of risk is accounted for in business operations while easing daily stressors and empowering them to speak up.


Make your venue work hard for you on the safety front so that your staff aren’t the only mouthpiece for compliance. Reduce opportunities for negative interactions by using the space to your advantage, adding physical enhancements that make it easy for patrons to do the right thing.

Details like displaying real-time safety checks, signage, sanitiser stations, and easily navigable layouts, allow your venue to become a safety signal.This frees up staff to focus on elevating the consumer experience in other ways — rather than their first interaction with customers being purely instructive.

However, multiple lockdowns and COVID-19 strains later, we can expect customers to be even more weary and hesitant when businesses reopen this spring.


Fight process fatigue by making ways of working simple when it comes to COVID-safe protocols.This means eliminating unnecessary red tape and breaking down information into manageable chunks that people can act on. Simple checklists, repeated often, can be the most effective method for keeping on top of evolving compliance measures.

Having easy-to-use technology that empowers staff can go a long way towards improving their effective- ness in carrying out safety protocols. By equipping staff with the tools and autonomy to drive in-store initiatives forward, can help make COVID-safe practices easier to follow and maintain.Tech can do some of the heavy lifting for hospitality workers. Consider plat- forms which have functions to collect on the ground data and report issues to help bolster your venue’s immunity to risk.

It’s time to stop thinking of safety as simply a box to tick internally. In this new world, there are new rules. ‘The customer is always right’ takes a backseat and safety has right of way as a value proposition.

Hospitality businesses that are transparent and consistent in their hygiene measures will gain the loyalty and trust of their customers. Now is the time to kick into high gear and tap into technology that shapes a culture where everyone — from staff members to din- ers — is empowered to act.

For more on how to reopen safely this spring, view SafetyCulture’s COVID-19 Resource Hub with free digitised COVID-19 guidance from governments and leading industry bodies. SafetyCulture partners with a number of hospitality trade bodies including the Brewing, Food and Beverage Industry Association (BFBI) and British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) to deliver tailored industry-approved guidance for their members.

*Methodology: All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2065 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 1st – 2nd July 2020. The survey was carried out online.The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).