by Victoria Buchanan, Executive Creative Director at Tribal Worldwide (www.tribalworldwide.co.uk)
Covid has transformed the hospitality industry this year, with cus- tomers confined to their homes and premises forces to shut up shop for the health of the entire country. In the midst of it all, hospitality businesses have adapted quickly – from offering accommodation to NHS staff to providing takeaways for the first time.And these changes are just the beginning.
As we’ve seen lockdowns gradually easing, and diners, drinkers and holidaymakers take tentative steps towards pubs, restaurants and hotels, the customer experience has evolved.The hospitality industry of 2020 is almost unrecognisable compared to 2019 – and there have been some fantastic examples of innovation already appearing as the industry adapts.
ADAPTING TO THE ‘NEW NORMAL’
We’re starting to see the beginnings of a hospitality uptick.Volumes of diners are increasing with the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme, and hotels in the UK are quickly hitting capacity as people make the most of the summer. Here are some of the best adaptions
and innovations I’ve seen so far in the industry:
- AB-InBev started planning for lockdowns early in the year, shifting its production from kegs to cans and bottle in anticipation of pub closures.This has helped them to meet the expected need for supermarket stock, ensuring alcohol didn’t go the same way as toilet paper at the start of lockdown.
- One 3-star restaurant has reopened with a reduced menu. Focusing on providing the experience that has been miss- ing in lockdown, the restaurant is only offering a tasting menu and a selection of its top wines, but demand is as high as ever. Could this be the future of fine dining?
- A hotel near the coast transformed its under-used car park into a makeshift outdoor club, resulting in a queue down
the street. Other pubs and restaurants are also now starting to look at how to make events happen and how to best
use their extra space in a safe way.
• Another brewery decided to offer customers the opportunity to book a lorry-load of beer delivered to their house.A
20-minute timeslot brought the alcohol to the consumers at a time when they were unable to physically go into a pub.
We’ve also seen so many companies offering simple solutions, from home meal-kits, to digital menus and in-
app ordering, as well as the new experience of universal table service.The industry is also fully embracing capacity planning, and in some cases combining the technology with track and trace – like the CAPP Assist app.
THE FUTURE OF HOSPITALITY
The industry is now facing a unique opportunity to pilot new services and develop new offerings.And as we head into the future of hospitality, there are two key themes leading the way – collaboration and technology.
While the future is looking brighter, the future of hospitality is still precarious in a lot of ways. One of the most important elements of rebuilding the industry is sharing knowledge and collaborating. For example, while some restaurants are using in-app ordering, consumers don’t want an app for every different restaurant.The solution is a universal app that multiple restaurants can use – but this means collaboration.
The other key factor is technology. In a way, we’re lucky we now have the technology to overcome some of the challenges the industry is facing, and that offers new potential. For example, hospitality is currently seeing more customer data than it has had before, and we can use the insights to support building the industry back better than before.
The hospitality industry plays a significant role in UK communities, and for the sake of the public, we need to rebuild successfully. In order to come out of Covid successfully, the customer experience must stay at the heart of everything.While hospitality may still have somewhat of an uphill struggle, now is the time to embrace new opportunities – transforming, reinventing, and adjusting – for the sake of the customers and the business.