The hospitality sector has had a rough ride over the last 12 months, hit hard by COVID-19 followed by the knock-on effects of a more cautious, post-pandemic society. Businesses looking to succeed and ensure 2022 is more positive, need to be aware of the difficult hurdles they are still likely to face.
Consumer behaviour has changed, which has a significant impact on the management and marketing activities of food and beverage outlets. We’ve highlighted the key issues that hospitality owners will need to be mindful of over the coming months, to ensure they keep footfall high and customers happy.
Resistance to travel
For those in the suburbs, it’s now seen a big deal to travel into the city centre for a night at a restaurant or bar. Many choose not to use public transport anymore due to the risk that COVID-19 still presents and with the cost of taxis and parking on the rise, it can be a big spend just for a few hours away from home. On the other hand, has had a positive effect on local hospitality businesses – as people are staying close to home, increasing footfall in those smaller venues and allowing them to become a real community hot spot.
In the months to come, centrally located businesses will need to consider whether they’re making it as easy as possible for people to visit, whether that is moving the booking system to online, ensuring your security measures are published on your website or thinking about introducing certain offers that may help to alleviate extra spend on transport.
Whilst restrictions may ease, many will still worry about returning to busy and public spaces. As well as this, the pandemic has made us all realise the importance of our own mental wellbeing. Before COVID-19, we may have felt guilty cancelling plans with friends because we just didn’t feel up to it, or worry about letting a restaurant down. Fast forward to 2022 and consumers are putting themselves first. Hospitality businesses need to be prepared for this and expect a record number of cancellations.
Introducing larger spaces within your venue for walks ins with a few more tables than usual would be a good way to counteract this – and promoting this offering on your social platforms may entice loyal followers to pop in a little more often than usual too.
In today’s technology driven world, paper menus have been replaced by QR codes or a website to place your order. If this causes confusion or delays, it can lead to customers feeling uneasy. Better technology, allowing for simpler and swifter orders, helps customers to relax and feel at ease in your venue.
Many appreciate the fact that hospitality businesses faced huge team restructures due to the pandemic cutting jobs – however, they don’t quite realise that this can cause long term issues. Restaurants and bars have had to make new hires, train people differently due to restrictions and some have had to reopen with less staff.
All of these factors can cause poor communication with customers, no matter how hard a team tries. Customer service has still got to be key, outlet owners should ensure new team members are up to speed with the specials menu, the best wine choices and have recommended dishes on hand. Unfortunately, in this climate, if customers receive poor interaction from the people serving them, they’re unlikely to come back and give you a second chance.
Consumer trends are showing many have started 2022 by spending less, but spending better. This movement has been slowly creeping in for a while, but this will be the year we really see it come into fruition. People will actively choose a venue that operates sustainably and puts the planet first, over one that doesn’t.
Making more ethical choices as a business and trying to make a positive change will be key to environmentally conscious consumers. If this is something you’ve implemented or that you’re passionate about as a business, be sure to share that with consumers – whether it’s visual references within the venue or sharing insight into what you do sustainably across your social channels.