19 July marks ‘Freedom Day’ in the UK, removing nearly all legal restrictions on social contact. As a result, the hospitality sector will be able to operate without most restrictions for the first time in 16 months. However, returning ‘to normal’ will not happen overnight. . Due to the Delta variant and the number of cases growing, the future is still uncertain. To keep your business and customers safe, we’ve prepared 3 top tips to guide you through this transition period.
- Maintain (and advance) high hygiene standards
Extreme attention towards health and safety quickly became an absolute norm during the lockdown, but ‘Freedom Day’ doesn’t mean you should get rid of these practices. On the contrary, maintaining high hygiene standards will help hospitality businesses reduce the virus spread as well as make staff and customers feel safer. And this is more important than ever : according to a recent study by HospitalityNet, 93% of people planning to travel in the next 12 months expect each hotel to outline its safety measures.
Moreover, it doesn’t hurt to constantly improve health and safety – in other words, better be safe than sorry. Given the context of restrictions lifted and a virus still prevalent , thorough hygiene maintenance in your hospitality venue must become a top priority. In more positive news, there are multiple ways to implement this, and ideally, you should combine them all.
Here are just a few things that you can do:
- Continue to wear PPE (Personal Protective Equipment, such as masks and gloves) to protect your colleagues and guests.
- Ensure proper cleaning and disinfection of all spaces, with increased attention during peak hours.
- Work towards hygiene certifications to have physical proof of your health and safety standards.
- Consider consulting with a hygiene specialist to help set a thorough strategy and implementation of the highest hygiene measures achievable.
- Take advantage of hospitality tech
Many venues have started to implement tech-driven solutions to make operations easier and more efficient. Needless to say, there are many different drivers for this change. For instance, Beekeeper reviews the increase of digital workplace apps and regards centralised communication as the main motive. Other reasons include a need for more engagement, growth, and security.
Digital workplace apps are just one hospitality tech success story. The post-coronavirus period is certainly a perfect time to drive this change further. However, there is no point in spending a fortune on digital solutions without getting any results. Therefore, the final choice of hospitality tech products really depends on the type of business you run: think about costs, capacities, purposes of your venue.
On the other hand, some hospitality tech tools are fairly universal and suitable for nearly any venue. In addition, it’s worth considering an omni-channel approach where you can combine several different solutions to maximise safety and efficiency.
A number of options are available:
- Contactless payments.
- QR code-based ordering.
- Waiter robots in hotels and restaurants.
- Digital kiosks for dining in and takeaways.
- AR/VR for location information.
- Communicate with your customers
Let’s face it: excellent customer service is one of the crucial components in any successful hospitality venture . Nevertheless, we probably all agree that COVID-19 has completely changed this concept. A research study carried out by Deloitte shows that even after lockdown restrictions were eased, many people still avoid going out. These changes in consumer behaviour can be attributed to fear and uncertainty regarding new safety measures. This is precisely where effective communication can help and it’s key to start ASAP! .
When it comes to hospitality businesses, what does a successful communications strategy include? As mentioned before, current moods are mainly caused by high levels of uncertainty. Therefore, being open, honest and clear should be your three essential pillars of communication. Most importantly, any announcement should be delivered in real-time. In these risky times, regular updates not only reassure your existing client base but also make your business more attractive for prospective customers due to the social responsibility element.
Fortunately, successful customer communication is quite easy to implement. Here are some tips on what you could do:
- Post all relevant updates on social media channels. Opening times, any coronavirus cases in the venue, safety measures – no matter if it’s general information, bad news, or something promising, being transparent is key.
- Ensure that your venue clearly displays information about your hygiene routines . For example, this can include hand sanitizer in visible places, complementary gloves.
- Virtual customer service can level up consumer trust too. Consider listing FAQs on your digital accounts, setting up a designated telephone/messaging line, using a chatbot.
- Last but not least, a bit of ‘TLC’ goes a long way!
Have you implemented a successful recovery strategy in your hospitality business? Share it with us!