So maybe, things have started to settle down a little, just maybe. Bars are serving drinks; restaurants are dishing up again and the hospitality industry breathes a collective sigh of relief.
It has obviously been indescribably difficult over the past 4 months. Ever since the Prime Minister told hospitality industry venues to close that very evening, many have suffered and may never recover. Many regrettably will never open their doors again, while others may continue to exist for a little while, hoping that the current situation improves significantly and some form of ‘normality’ will be restored.
Two key questions have evolved from the pandemic. Were you ready? When the proverbial hit the fan, was the business in a position to immediately pivot, ride out the storm and keep going?
The second, when is something like this going to happen again? The latter obviously equates to questioning the length of a piece of string, but we are not necessarily talking of a second spike, although this seems more and more likely. There is a lengthy list of critical events that could blight some or all of us at some point in the future? Bubonic plague maybe? It’s already happening in Mongolia. A terrorist attack? Another ‘foot and mouth’? And then of course there is the enigma of Brexit, still lurking behind every political statement and regurgitated business plan. All uncertainties that we need to plan for.
James Day, Founder of GreatestBritish.org says ‘Future proofing your business, at least as much as is possible is a key element to long term survival. Some within the hospitality industry were equipped and ready for lockdown. Others not so. Unfortunately, it will be the latter that may not make it. The former has a much better chance. Contingency plans are a necessity, not a ‘nice to have’. Without living in perpetual pessimism, being aware of what the future may hold is as important as the here and now.” Continuing “We have been putting measures in place to help protect and ensure our customers are not only maximising sales as the hospitality industry re-opens, but also prepares them for any future shocks via a series of initiatives to help capture client data, build loyalty and more importantly than ever, reduce their operating costs”
What dangers could your hotel or restaurant face in the future and how can you be ready?
Taking the time out to research such things now could prove critical as does thoughts around the potential long term fall out of international, national or local crises. The results of an in-depth annual ‘Gourmet Britain’ food and lifestyle consumer survey conducted by GreatestBritish.org revealed that over 30% of people who dine out regularly will be less likely to do so in the future citing issues around overall safety and social distancing as a key concern influencing their decision making.
How do we maintain engagement with those disaffected diners in the future if they won’t be walking through the door?
James added “These customers represent a huge number of our industry income, so we need to adapt to encourage them back out. At this stage in the post pandemic world, we can’t just entice with them with the promise of excellent food and drink, superlative service and superior standards, we need to show genuine care, insight and re-assurances. Consequences beyond our control mean that there is a definitive need to keep them informed of what you are doing even down to the basic fact that you are still operational.”
Naturally the majority of us are preoccupied with pure survival right now but we all need to start addressing the ‘what if.’ Will restaurant dining ever revert to the highs (and lows) of pre-pandemic times? How will Christmas dinner look in 2020? Will the family want to dine out or enjoy exquisite high-end food at home? If this is to be the case, can you satisfy that need? It may seem overwhelming to have to consider all of these possibilities, both operationally and from a marketing perspective but, as the last 6 months have shown us, we have to face up to the challenge and face up to it now.
Written by Adam Whitaker.
Communications Consultant, with a Passion For Food & Drink
If you need marketing support for your business, the team at GreatestBritish.org are willing to support your hospitality business. Whether it be long term strategy, crisis communications and planning or management of your day to social media, website and print portfolio, they offer sustainable, affordable solutions, many commission free.