All sectors of industry are facing major challenges right now. What future trends do you see happening in the food service and hospitality sector?
The market is going to change. The restaurant business is going to make a comeback, but we’ll be seeing new or revived concepts and formats with emotional appeal and the experience factor, new venues and new rules on hygiene and interaction, as well as access controls, table reservations and new guest seating arrangements. There will be fewer players, fewer stand-alone concepts and more chains. Diners will prefer safe places to eat, such as their homes, their cars or member clubs. Outdoor will be the new indoor. Dining experiences will replace holiday experiences.
Home delivery concepts are obviously the clear winners and the trend is here to stay – although it will be moving up to a new level. Delivery service providers will deliver entire food scenarios. In the future the focus will shift from what people are eating to the whole dining package being delivered and the associated issues of waste disposal and sustainability.
What factors will be crucial to surviving this unprecedented situation?
All the uncertainty surrounding the future offers scope for creativity to visionaries and facilitators. Businesses taking advantage of the current situation to put new ideas into practice, focus on new and existing guests and develop more upmarket offerings that can be retailed at higher prices are doing the right thing, because they are adapting their business models to make the best out of the circumstances.
These businesses need a clear strategy to generate enough revenue! Those who believe everything will continue pretty much as before are likely to struggle in the new framework. Now is the time to question everything and renegotiate: locations, leases, structures and technology. Now is the time to improve efficiency through digitalisation and contactless technology, to motivate the team – by setting an example if necessary – and to ensure positive, trust and confidence-inspiring communications with guests.
What are the key changes the industry can expect? And what does that mean for food service and hospitality businesses?
The food service and hospitality industry has learned from the COVID-19 experience. The four main requirements they will have to meet in the future are flexibility, digitalisation, communication and safety. Courage, creativity and corporate leadership will also be important.
The most dramatic change will be market consolidation. One-quarter of businesses, mainly small and medium-sized ones, will disappear. Businesses with a solid financial base, including commercial catering companies, and the big international restaurant chains will take advantage of the weak market to consolidate their positions. We are going to experience an ‘Americanisation’ of the market. There will be less diversity and more sameness and monotony. This, in turn, offers medium and long-term opportunities for restaurants offering experience value and combining lifestyle elements with safety. The same applies to small and ethnically diverse restaurants, craft-related concepts, original and speak-easy concepts and member clubs