New digital solutions are changing the out-of-home market. What developments will influence the hotel and catering sectors in the coming years – especially in light of COVID-19 and the post-pandemic ‘new normal’? What are the top trends?
COVID-19 has had a catalytic effect on the digital transformation and it’s safe to assume that almost 100 percent of guests have now adopted digital. Lockdown encouraged people to overcome their digital reluctance and embrace e-commerce, apps and video conferencing technology. At the moment, the main priority is to consider the guest’s viewpoint. That’s why digital solutions that help to avoid unnecessary contact, such as card payments, self-ordering, smartphone orders and payments and digital menus are currently so successful. Process optimisation through digitalisation is also taking place in the back-of-house areas. Digital rostering is one of the current trends – and restaurant operators are profiting from the vast pool of data they can access via digital tools as the basis for measures to promote business.
What tools should restaurant operators be using to survive the crisis? And what can they do to leverage their market positions?
Communication is the most important thing in any crisis! You have to communicate with your guests and with your staff. We’ve noticed how businesses that stayed in contact with their guests during lockdown had a clear competitive advantage. The situation remains very dynamic and we are seeing infection rates and the associated restrictions changing from week to week. These changes also have to be communicated quickly to the teams and guests with all available tools. Know-how and information sharing between manufacturers and the food service sector is also becoming more important because the bigger companies have years of experience in the use of digital functions and tools. Learning from best practices can help the out-of-home market to move forward.
Which digital trends are here to stay and which ones are evolving?
The transition to digital is generally permanent. Procedures and practices are being reviewed and structures are undergoing critical analysis to ensure that processes which are optimised with digital tools can become even faster and more efficient in the future. Digital guest services are also evolving. In the future, guests will be able to choose what degree of digitalisation they want. We’ll be seeing more hybrid guest service systems as a result. And the colourful world of social media channels is definitely here to stay as an indispensable guest communication and marketing tool.