Paul Gordon, Portfolio People Director at People Puzzles has been helping clients within the hospitality and leisure industry to re-imagine the future post COVID-19 and how to get there. He shares his thoughts with us on what family firms in the sector should be thinking about as they plan for the next stage in their journey.
Since the lockdown began in March 2020, the Hospitality and Leisure Industry sector has been most severely affected with pubs, bars, restaurants, gyms and leisure facilities across the UK closing their doors to abide by these unprecedented measures. Do you sit and wait for things to open up?
We are now in May 2020 and Boris Johnson last week upon his return to office referred to the fact that there was light at the end of the “Alpine tunnel” and that plans were being developed to slowly start the unlocking process. However, commentators all seem to agree that the Hospitality and Leisure sectors will be one of the last sectors to re-open. So, for us working in Hospitality and Leisure does it mean that we just have to sit and wait for things to open up or can we start to influence the future? For me it is time to start re-imagining the future and how to get us there. As Albert Einstein said:
“Logic will get you from A to Z but imagination will get you everywhere”
From my perspective hospitality and leisure now needs to be everywhere not just in the physical locations of restaurants, bars, pubs gyms etc. It needs to be where the customer is and offer what the customer wants.
So, let’s start to re-imagine our offer. Prior to March 23rd customers would come to us. They can’t do that anymore so how do we get to them. Delivery and pick up is the logical answer but what does the customer want from this? Imagine yourself as the customer in these changed circumstances, what is important to you? As a customer I want to feel secure that my food is safe, imagine how to achieve this and how you can convey it to the customer.
As a customer I also want the quality food and service that I was used to eating in the restaurant. I ordered from my local restaurant that had set up a take-away service after the lockdown had started, but unfortunately when the food arrived it was a gloopy mess in a polystyrene box. The items we had ordered that we used to eat in the restaurant were not designed for and did not travel well, so we need to re-imagine the menu we offer to make sure that the food travels well in secure packaging and quality is maintained, a bad experience here may well put the customer off coming back to you once they can.
What is your best-selling item on the menu? Imagine how you would feel as a customer if you could run an on-line cooking class in how to prepare it at home!
Perhaps we also need to think about why our customers actually came to us in the first place. Was it for a special occasion like a birthday or anniversary or was it just for a great experience? Whatever it was we need to re-imagine how we can create this in a delivery option. How do we imagine a birthday party on Zoom? Can a customer order party food to be delivered to four different households so you can all eat together on-line in your virtual party? Can the birthday cake be delivered to all virtual party guests? How are you re-imagining the use of technology?
With the gradual unlocking of other sectors how are you re-imagining your offer? With social distancing remaining paramount imagine how you can serve a potential new market like an office with a delivery offering. As hotels gradually open up imagine providing breakfasts or dinner on a delivery basis. Imagine new partnerships that can be developed with other local businesses.
If we are re-imagining our offer it is vital that we re-purpose our staff and teams that will have to deliver it as well. Do you understand the skills that are needed to deliver your re-imagined offer? How will training and development take place with social distancing rules? How can you provide training on-line? Have you imagined how your kitchen or work-station will look when you comply with social distancing and can you ensure that your teams feel safe and secure working with you on your re-imagined offer. What will your enhanced cleaning plans look like? What size of workforce do you need?
New equipment may be required in order for you to develop your re-imagined offer, so can you take advantage of the various Government schemes that have been developed to help businesses during these hard times?
The reality at the moment is that hospitality and leisure is in uncharted waters and as Lewis Carrol stated, “Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.” Therefore it is time to re-imagine the future.
People Puzzles are FBU partners and you can find out more by getting in touch with them. If you have more than 20 staff email on firstname.lastname@example.org or give them a call on 0808 164 5826 if you would like to arrange a suitable time for a complimentary 30 minute call with one of their HR Directors. Find out more at www.peoplepuzzles.co.uk