It is widely acknowledged that the recent global pandemic has been deeply damaging to the hospitality industry, but out of that cauldron of despair there were a few positives. It brought out the creative streak in many independent hospitality professionals operating small or family businesses and perhaps showed a way forward for the wider hospitality community.
With so many restrictions and social distancing in place, ‘takeaway’ and home delivery saw massive growth. Some operators, who normally ignored this market, jumped on the bandwagon with their creative ideas for take home food and beverage and enjoyed tremendous revenues.
Takeaway pizza and Asian cuisines are amongst the favourites and it is with great interest that we see Uber-eats, Menulog, Yelo reporting well above average business in many regions. Food courts in high density areas have been quick to subscribe to the new way of eating and a recent chat with a Chinese Dim Sum stall holder confirmed what I had suspected. His business was booming, as he rapidly altered his business model to take advantage of the new circumstances by delivering Dim Sum in cute reusable containers (and who doesn’t like to collect a container or two).
I spoke with the owners of a well-known vegetarian restaurant group who operate a couple of small restaurants, who reported that business was booming. While their small restaurants don’t have more than 20 seats, they have capitalized on takeaway and are now planning to have future restaurants built with a special takeaway drive through counters. Hearing details about their daily revenue would make regular restaurants green with envy as their figures are astonishing.
With creative, entrepreneurial people to the forefront, it shows that with little investment, great results and sales can be achieved with an agile and responsive approach.
In times of crisis like now, dining trends change, people’s eating habits change and the new world in the hospitality industry might have to adapt to survive. Re-adjustment, re-alignment, whatever you might call it, might be in order to prepare for what lies ahead.
The question of course remains, how fast and to what extent, can hotel or restaurant chains adapt to the new world order and new ways of doing business? Tourism hot spots are suddenly faced with empty restaurants that previously had busloads for lunch and dinner but now struggle to survive on the local crowd. With the domestic tourist being the target for the foreseeable future, the food offering has to change. These tourists eat and shop differently and do not arrive by the busload. They are price conscious, cook in their holiday apartments eat in food courts or have takeaway if they really want to spoil themselves.
If the predictions are only remotely correct, then we are in for at least another 12 months of social restrictions and that will require some serious rethinking if businesses want to stay afloat.
It will be interesting to see how hotels adjust to the new world with their F&B offerings. It might be a good idea to get the corporate guys away from their desk and see how the real world has adjusted. They perhaps need to come up with some concepts that compliment the luxury environment with a back to basics authentic food offering.
Some of the wealthiest people in the world eat simply and enjoy a drink with their ‘street food’, after all, we are all humans and many still enjoy the simple things in life, starting with good, traditional food enjoyed in an unassuming and relaxed environment after a hard day’s work.
It reminds me of the questions in my early hotel days when the General Manager would ask his F&B Manager, “why don’t people eat in the hotel?”. They go next door and sit at a hawker stall when in Asia they go to the local diner in the US, the street side café in Europe and in many Australian or UK cities, the pub!
The question is still as valid today as it was 30 or 40 years ago. One thing is certain, it will need some rapid and creative thinking as business survival is the priority for the moment.
About the author
Karl Faux is a veteran Hotelier and Managing Partner with Elite Search – a leading hospitality recruitment firm.
For more information about Karl and Elite Search visit http://www.elitesearch.com.au and The Elite Hotelier http://www.elitehotelier.net