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How Hospitality Venues Can Prepare and Overcome COVID-19 Ongoing Restrictions and Lockdowns?

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There is little doubt COVID-19 has hit the hospitality majorly, however in this article, we attempt to share some tips on how some food and beverage businesses can modify and adapt to the transitional changes that can come with ongoing restrictions and snap lockdowns.

It is extremely difficult to remain positive and buoyant throughout the constant restrictions and the unknown re our future, but there are ways to increase productivity and revenue during a crisis. The eventual keys to success include preparation and flexibility which will majorly contribute to being a successful resilient business.

1. Modify Your Menu

This was one of the earliest changes seen in 2020 with venues able to move quickly, succeeding on a new takeaway business model. We saw many venues adapt quickly to this, and some have remained with takeaway offerings throughout, building a completely new and previously untapped revenue stream.

One of the standout positive stories was Adam D’Sylva, Co-owner of upmarket Impos venues Coda and Tonka in Melbourne’s CBD who adapted swiftly, providing takeaway items suitable to eat fresh or freeze vacuum-sealed curries. Adam even personally delivered all the classics throughout metro Melbourne and regional Victoria, including their signature butter chicken and their delicate lamb curry to be reheated on a lazy Friday night in.

2. Remain Resilient

2020 saw many hospitality venues pivot quickly to convert their restaurants and cafes into food delivery outlets and modify their menus to specialised takeaway dishes, many of which have proved profitable and have remained even when venues are free again to open for table service. Moreover, instead of being forced to fire staff, they have used them to deliver food and utilise them in different ways.

Even when restrictions are lifted, seating is often restricted with guests small in numbers, so in order to satisfy all of them, it is imperative to partner with an online ordering platform and have a contactless ordering solution in place. Impos launched with Cinch in 2020 as a direct result of the first COVID-19 outbreak. Impos wanted to provide a platform that was more cost effective, without taking a cut of the venue’s sales at a time when they needed them most. Cinch also allows venues to utilise their own staff for a delivery service if required.

3. Loyalty Programs

Customer loyalty has never been so crucial so it is imperative to nurture your locals with special offers via a loyalty program. The good news is, customers want to support you with the #supportyourlocal messaging prominent throughout the pandemic. Impos Membership provides a streamlined way to look after your customers.

Impos Membership gives you oversight of your customers’ spending and order habits, letting you get to know them better. Your integrated membership database helps you market directly to your customers, making them feel like you really value them. Noticed a regular who buys a lot of lattes? Send them a deal for a free coffee next time they’re in. You can target specials and loyalty rewards to each of your customers to boost same-day sales and keep them coming back.

4. A Walk-in Freezer

One of the biggest heartbreaks for hospitality venues when dealing with a snap lockdown is spoiled food. One of the Melbourne lockdowns in 2021 came just prior to Valentine’s Day, one of the most profitable dates for restaurants, especially fine dining. It is impossible for venues to predict, especially when the lockdown comes seemingly overnight.

While not everything can be frozen, the food which is kept in a freezer can last 6-12 months if stored properly. When you have an abundance of food that might get spoiled in a chiller such as sauce, stock, or noodles, it is best to transfer them into a freezer ahead of time. Contact your suppliers early regarding non-delivery due to crisis and order food that can be directly stored in a freezer for further use. In this way, you can prepare your restaurants to remain resilient, as well as control operational costs such as electricity and water etc.

5. Keep Staff Costs Down

Again, once of the biggest pain points for the hospitality industry was being forced to let go of quality kitchen and floor staff. As everyone knows within the industry, finding and retaining good staff is the one of the hardest components to get right in any hospitality business. Due to the pandemic, many students who were working on an internship or part-time job have been majorly affected. This provides a good opportunity for venues to offer valuable experience so that is helpful to both parties.

Unpaid internships are the best where passionate students will focus all of their efforts to gain knowledge and skills which will help your plight to succeed throughout such challenging times.