Service will be the differentiating factor in the success of a hospitality business as the industry emerges from lockdown, according to two front of house titans.
Speaking as part of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts' (RACA) 40th anniversary celebrations, Silvano Giraldin and Sergio Rebecchi said that a return to the core values of service will be vital for businesses looking to bounce back.
Rebecchi said: "Service will be the most important factor to help us recover post-Covid. Guests will want to feel safe and comfortable and expectations will be high. We need to make this a priority when the sector reopens."
He added that service professionals must perfect the art of genuine communication while wearing a mask.
"We will have to show customers that we are smiling with our eyes," Rebecchi said. "We will have to speak slower, be more deliberate, clearer, and use body language and gesticulation – you and I are good at that Silvano."
Giraldin responded: "Even if you wear a mask you can see the expression of a waiter that wishes you well and one that doesn't care. The eyes are very important. Obviously body language too.
He added: "What's happened will make us stronger. We will bounce back and service will make the difference in every single sector."
The pair also bemoaned the preference for booking automation over personal contact in many establishments.
Rebecchi said: "The clues for the future lie in the past and like every profession a solid base is the key. I feel that over the last few years this has been eroded somehow.
"Centralised booking systems have taken over and I really struggle with this. The role of reception is paramount – it's the first point the customer comes to and it determines what the experience is supposed to be. I think we need to go back to personal attention, relationships, hospitality and trust."
Giraldin agreed: "Standards of food and cuisine can vary but the service experience can make the different. Paying attention to what the customers want is very important. Being looked after – service is done with your eyes; look at what the customer wants and give it to them when they want it."
Watch part four of the video series, in which Cyrus Todiwala and James Golding discuss sustainability in hospitality.