While everyone in the hospitality industry was more than happy to bid farewell to 2020 and the worst of the Covid-19 restrictions and lockdowns, there are many trends that launched and enjoyed extensive growth due to the pandemic that rocked our world. It’s more imperative than ever before that venues in the hospitality sector keep up with the latest trends to avoid being left behind. Keeping pace with the industry as a whole is a great way to ensure your business delivers the kind of customer experience people want and more importantly, in a lot of cases now expect.
Mobile Check-In Service
All hospitality venues are now required to provide a mobile check-in service via a QR code on arrival for contract tracing purposes with legislation varying slightly in each state. This is one of the most crucial hospitality trends for reducing the need for human-to-human contact and this is an especially important concept within the context of the Covid pandemic and the associated efforts to contain the virus.
Enhanced Hygiene Protocols
Hygiene products vary at hospitality venues with the industry quick to implement elevated safety and hygiene procedures in the weeks and months after the Covid pandemic was first declared in March 2020. Most venues have hand sanitiser on arrival and the majority of venues still don’t have the usual table setup with condiments and salt and pepper available, but available upon request.
Dark kitchens are one of the most innovative trends to have appeared throughout 2020 with dine-in trade being either severely restricted or unavailable all together. Dark kitchens are kitchens without any form of customer setting, be it take-away or eat in, and prepare food solely for delivery by the likes of Uber Eats, Deliveroo or DoorDash. With minimal costs and the ability to run with several diverse menus and even brands from a single site, they are one of the fastest growing trends and one that will see further growth throughout 2021.
With restrictions in place for most of 2020 and an in-venue capacity of sometimes only 20 people, a lot of venues started extending their outdoor dining areas. In some states, local council stepped up and foot the bill for more street-side dining options. This was timely for a lot of venues in the warmer months with customers desperate to be out and about after being confined to their homes for so long. A lot of socially distanced work meetings started to take place in outdoor dining spaces as the majority of Australians were working remotely.
Online Ordering Integration
While customers were delighted to be back in restaurants and pubs in 2021, online ordering and home delivery is now an ingrained part of how we eat in 2021. Online ordering can increase a venue owner’s revenue by up to 30% with more orders able to be processed, as well as easy to use add-on and order modifier options. Hospitality venues are integrating their online orders directly to their POS, making processing much more efficient. This eliminates rekeying an order from an aggregator terminal to the POS, saving on time, eliminating human error and handling orders much faster. There are many players in this space but a standout that launched in May of 2020 is Cinch who is one of the few online ordering partners that don’t charge an ongoing percentage or the venue’s orders.
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Order at Table
Cutting down the number of surfaces in a hospitality venue that are touched by multiple people and therefore have to be sanitized is something that is likely to extend well beyond 2021. One of the first things to go along with condiments at table were laminated menus, now often replaced by a digital offering whether via a QR code or beacon at table. Not only does this reduce the risk of infection, it saves money again on staff and allows venues to make frequent menu changes in real time. There are many players in this space, including Mr Yum, me&u and Cinch. This is a trend that will no doubt continue and see extensive market growth throughout 2021/22.
Contactless payment is nothing new, but which rapidly increased throughout Covid and social distancing. Contactless forms of payment, such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Pay will continue to be more widely used throughout 2021 and again we’re seeing an increased awareness for the need to have these forms of payment integrated directly into your POS system.
Mobile Friendly, Proactive Loyalty
The hospitality sector understands the value of loyalty, and throughout 2020 some restaurants, cafes and QSR’s were able to strengthen their customer relationships in difficult times. A well planned and executed loyalty program will continue to be an integral factor for hospitality venues to differentiate themselves in 2021 and beyond. They key trend we are seeing is the recognition that loyalty programs must be mobile friendly and the value of being proactive, with more and more providers sending out alerts, happy birthday messages, vouchers and offer.
With data comes the ability to tailor and personalise offers. We’re used to the idea of digital signage menu boards making offers based on local weather, seasons or stock levels. But in an exciting new variation there is now the capability for drive through menu boards to read loyalty data and offer completely personalised order suggestions based off previous purchases and preferences.
Value of Data
Finally, we have the value of data. This is a growing trend, not only for the hospitality industry but across the board. With the massive growth in online orders, online bookings and the continues focus on loyalty has made the hospitality industry even more aware of the value of data. The right data can aid in identifying market trends, customer preferences and will continue to give venue owners a huge opportunity in understanding customer preferences and really do a deep dive in their personalised profiling, preferences and marketing.