In the wake of COVID-19, few industries were hit harder than the hospitality industry. Due to restrictions and stay-at-home orders, the audience for spaces like bars or restaurants has declined significantly. In some areas, there has been a more than 50% decrease in footfall traffic to these spaces. With this sudden change, business owners in the industry are struggling to be able to reach their audience in a safe way. Since the pandemic has shown no intention of leaving any time soon, it is up to businesses to adapt and reclaim customers. In this article, we will discuss how the hospitality industry can survive and thrive despite this change.
Finding Innovation at Every Turn
Adaptation is at the base of every major survival plan. In business, innovation is how we adapt. In order for businesses to thrive while faced with restrictions, innovation must be a key focus. When the pandemic first broke out, spending at restaurants and pubs decreased by 96% in some areas. It is important to note that spending in this way did not decrease completely. People were still spending, but those sales went to businesses that were able to adapt to meet customer needs immediately.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a new era for the world. No one was truly prepared for this, and few business owners had plans in place for this kind of outcome. However, business owners quickly started making changes. A company that is innovative about policies and serving customers right now will be the one that gets the sales. The world is changing and the hospitality industry must change with it.
Engaging Customers Directly
Customer engagement is a core focus of the hospitality industry—and the industry has done this well. Unfortunately, the changes brought on by COVID-19 have also influenced how easy it is to engage customers. Before, physical engagement was an opportunity. Now, you need a new way to interact with your audience. The key to this is personalized engagement, and the best way to do this is through mobile apps and social media.
Personalized engagement is a growing concept that every business must lean on. It involves being able to speak to the needs of your customer on an individual level, but it doesn’t have to be one-on-one. In a recent study, it was determined that 66% of customers believe that companies should be able to understand their needs.
Personalized engagement can be a really effective way to reach your customers. Posting ads at the right time or leaning on push notifications can really help you to provide the right engagement. Drizly, a popular delivery app for adult beverages, routinely sends out a push notification every Friday evening. Why? They know that their audience is looking to unwind and that Drizly can be the solution.
Embracing Contactless Interactions
Given the risks associated with the ongoing pandemic, there is a need to reduce face-to-face interactions. Offering your customers the opportunity to leverage this can do a lot for increasing comfort levels. More importantly, it will make your business more easily able to stay within regulations.
Contactless deliveries are the gold standard for delivery services right now. These deliveries allow customers to interact with your business and have items delivered in a much safer way. Fortunately, they aren’t only effective for deliveries. Restaurants and hotels around the world have offered users the opportunity to order from their table rather than interact with a server. Giving your customers the ability to set their comfort level can make them much happier with your service.
Making It Easy For Customers To Say “Yes”
Right now, your customers are in an unusual place. Mental health has taken a large hit on a global level because of COVID-19. People are dealing with a lot, which means you need to make choosing your business as easy as possible. No one wants to struggle to choose a coffee shop to order from when they are already facing difficult decisions in their lives.
It is not a secret that customers are always seeking out convenience. Offering conveniences is what the hospitality industry has always relied on. Now, it is even more crucial. A customer will be more likely to order from a restaurant through an app than if they have to call. They will be more likely to choose a restaurant that offers delivery in addition to pick-up orders. Find the needs of your customers and make it as easy to work with you as possible. A well-timed discount code can really go a long way
Reducing Third-Party Costs
In an attempt to meet their audience, many restaurants and coffee shops have leaned on third-party providers for sales. While this does offer access to a great audience, it also comes at a cost. When you partner with third-party companies like DoorDash and GrubHub, you lose money to them. Third-party services charge commissions, which can really hurt when you have already lost sales.
The best way to reduce third-party costs is to use your own platform. Using a custom app to process orders from customers can offer significant savings over time. Even better, it enables you to completely control how you interact with your customers. It makes it possible for you to offer rewards, send out discounts, and receive payment directly. A recent study even revealed that 54% of food delivery platform users open the app with a specific restaurant in mind. Offering your own app allows you to adapt to their needs in real-time without the frustration of third-party ordering.