Recently, in these extremely stormy coronavirus conditions, operators have had to make some tough choices.
Do they sit the storm out and hope for the best, or fix their nets and think of new fishing techniques? The decisions made will define the forthcoming period for the hospitality industry.
There are many businesses, and it would be pointless to name them, that have been dormant in this period. I must allow for some that have greater plans that are yet to be revealed, but out-of-sight is out-of-mind.
But others are taking a quantum leap into the next generation of hospitality.
So what might the future look like?
Firstly, before you even leave home, you will be able to select your table at the restaurant of your choice, subject to live availability. You may even have pre-ordered you entire meal and drinks, leaving only your preference of coffee or liquer to be decided on the day (or night). To finish, you pay without the frustration of awaiting service for the bill, perhaps even linking the amount you tip to the feedback you provide in a quick online survey.
Sound far-fetched? When was the last time you booked a low-cost airline ticket? I would wager you had made most of your decisions, and paid for them, long before you reached the airport.
Of course, many operators were already providing such options before the lockdown began. But what was something used by a few then is likely to be something demanded by the many come July 4. Consumer behaviour is changing, has changed in fact, and enlightened operators are already getting prepared.
There are other benefits to embracing technology too. The same software or App could also notify customers to special live deals. Quiet day in your restaurant? No problem. Alert your customer base it is half price for the next few hours. Exciting times ahead, times that consumers are ready for.
And it is not just technology that is going to help us change things.
Where many restaurants are looking at multiple brands, the kitchen can also be re-engineered to accommodate both requirements. This will make the site sweat in a much more efficient manner. And for those wondering how it can be done, pay a visit to Center Parcs when the guidelines allow.
Safety is of course a major concern, but this could be turned into a positive too. Assuming at some point we will be able to do away with social distancing requirements – moving from two-metres to one-metre would be a start – this safety could be amped up to create a more hospitable environment.
I recently received an email from Forte Village trumpeting their new protocol upon entry, where two very quick non-invasive tests borrowed from the Bundesliga and Serie A will henceforth be part of the arrival experience. This will provide undoubted comfort to most guests and negate the need for further unwanted measures once the threshold has been crossed.
In the case of restaurants, it is possible a temperature check or similar could be performed on entering guests, while the staff could go through a more thorough test. The restaurant could even publicise their procedure on their live app or website. This would give comfort the checks are being made, and that health and safety is a priority without compromising the experience.
Such steps matter greatly because hospitality and distancing are like oil and water.
The new way to fish, one that many of us have experienced by now, is the restaurant coming to you. From the extreme of Hedonism and Hide’s £500 home tasting menu to a Patty & Bun home kit of make your own burgers, the whole country has far more options now than it did three months ago.
At every end of the spectrum, you can enjoy either pre-cooked or ready prepared meals right up to dining service in your own dining room. There has to be a legacy here, one that will bolster the brands that have pivoted in this way. They have, due to lockdown, created businesses within businesses and I hope they will all see fit to continue operating in such a way once they can welcome customers inside once again. Doing so will give them more and customers more, which surely as it the heart of the hospitality industry?
I commend those fishermen and women of the industry that have been busy working on new techniques. And to those that are sitting tight, it is not too late to find different ways of doing things, ways that may just land a worthwhile catch.
Ted Schama: Fish differently
Recently, in these extremely stormy coronavirus conditions, operators have had to make some tough choices. Do they sit the storm out and hope for the best, or fix their nets and think of new fishing techniques? The decisions made will define the forthcoming period for the hospitality industry. There are many businesses, and it would be pointless to name them, that have been dormant in this period. I must allow for some that have greater plans that are yet to be revealed, but out-of-sight is out-of-mind. Others are taking a quantum leap into the next generation of hospitality. So what might the future look like?