Those who choose to adapt to their new situation will be the ones who will survive, says Wendy Bartlett.
The Covid consumer experience will redefine how people behave, how they consume and how they engage with brands.
We can expect the economic and social crisis to peak sometime in 2021, so unfortunately, we have some way to go yet. But the question is, are we prepared?
The future will be about reimagining and repurposing, or looking to rescope a business. This is really difficult conversation if you own a nightclub and have not opened in nine months – how do you reimagine your business and look at other opportunities?
The fact that the government says that businesses can reopen does not mean the consumers will come. I think we all understand that now.
The fact that the government says that businesses can reopen does not mean the consumers will come. I think we all understand that now
We clearly also cannot rely on the government to save or support businesses and jobs in any meaningful way, so we have to get on with it, despite what the government says and offers.
What will be essential is that companies can pivot their business, mentally throw away the rule book and focus on the new. This will mean having brave hearts and taking yet more risks by investing in ideas.
Food and great service has to be top of the agenda, so how do we capitalise on that while grappling with the financial and human cost of the pandemic?
In some ways, life has become simplified, especially with technology becoming second nature. Food is also playing a much more important role as people work from home (or live at work, as I like to call it). Having great food made for you is a highlight after the daily drudgery of thinking of what to prep and cook yourself. People want more interaction, they want an experience and the sheer joy of someone else cooking for them. Many people may have discovered a new-found interest in cooking, but that translates to restaurants, where customers are now much more aware of the hospitality industry and the value it brings to our daily lives. There is opportunity in this.
So while there is lots to be disappointed and concerned about, there is also much to be gained with a fresh mind and a brave heart.
Finally, I would just like add my thanks to the UKHospitality team, led by Kate Nicholls. I know there have been recent awards and recognition, including a Cateys Special Award – quite rightly – but I'd like to say a massive thank you too.
We have long talked about the need for one voice. If one good thing that has come out of this dreadful event, it is that we really are represented now.
As I am part of the UKHospitality board, I can attest to the dedication of the team, and the way in which they have had to weave their way to get to the right person with the right message. They have been able to influence without having a door shut in our faces.
The pandemic has caused devastating effects on people's lives and hospitality has been hit with a sledgehammer. However, Kate and her team have worked tirelessly on our behalf – often 24/7 – just to make sure we can get the best possible deal when it's clear the government wants to use us as the whipping boy. So a huge thank you to the team.
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