The sector has learned a lot during the pandemic and is trying to put a lot of the cost cutting and limber operations into play while inflation comes crashing in just as trading was improving.
It has also learned a lot about experience. There was a time during the first lockdown where we would have been ecstatic to drink in gutters and indeed, when that time came, we did indeed line up in the gutters for our warm beer in plastic cups.
But that time has passed. Months of no hospitality meant that aspirations were high when doors finally reopened and there were reports of aggression which didn’t sit well.
This is no longer the case, but experience remains important, not least because it can drive revenue which helps to offset the ever-rising costs.
At the core of this is technology, which most hospitality operators have shied away from. No-one wants their drink delivered by a robot, they want that human smile and interaction. But with team members stuck short handed, that smile is going to be hidden behind a stack of paperwork, with the grind of running a front desk of a hotel, or stocking a bar, getting in the way of delivering experience. Automate this and see the smiles return.
The guest wants to be empowered. They want to do things their way, they way that they do elsewhere in their lives. They want their preferences to be taken into account and they want to be made to feel special. They will pay more for better experiences and research has shown that, if they can use, say, WhatsApp, to communicate, they are more likely to buy additional services and burgers, and not just because they feel less guilty about adding extra cheese when it’s their ‘phone taking the order and not a person.
Well, mostly not.