Holiday season trading is a big deal for many hospitality businesses. Customers are looking for the best stocking stuffers, and domestic tourists abound as workplaces and schools close the book on another year. Some businesses even rely on the last few months of the year to turn a profit.

But this year it will be different.

Mention end-to-end disruption, and the hospitality industry comes to mind. One of the hardest-hit sectors by the pandemic, many establishments are still finding ways to plate up safely.

With the silly season fast approaching and COVID-19 restrictions uncertain, many consumers have no clue how they will be celebrating this year. While businesses may not be able to predict what will happen, now is the time to prepare.

Many will need to adapt in order to thrive: sometimes this means shaking up your offering, and at other times it means potentially overhauling your entire business model.

So where does the future of hospitality lie? The global pandemic accelerated trends that had been building for years and upended longstanding hospitality practices. Here’s how you can adapt to stay on top.

Five-star safety

Hospitality has traditionally been a service and quality-focused industry. Safety was always an assumption underpinning operations. Now, it’s a customer-facing value proposition that will attract customers now and into the future.

In New York City, restaurant Cafe du Soleil set the standard with plastic dining domes called “space bubbles” to cushion patrons from the cold weather and provide them with a novel experience.

The wet floor sign approach

When businesses take a wet floor sign approach, they mitigate future risk by setting in place short-term initiatives like cleaning checklists and safety marshalls. Upon reopening to the public, Snooze Eatery created the role of the ‘Safety Dancer’. Safety Dancers maintain the safety of the venue, keeping on top of cleaning, sanitising and capacity limits with the help of iAuditor.

With short-term practices in place, you can start to inform a long-term safety strategy. This includes proceduralising your approach to cleanliness, building out health and safety teams, and developing hazard-reduction plans based on feedback from staff. 

Human-centered contactless experiences

Contact tracing QR codes, automated assistance and contactless payments have paved the way for a new wave of customer expectations. It’s no longer a matter of who adopts new technology the fastest. Technology is an expectation already.

Service will always underpin the hospitality industry, even as personal interaction takes a backseat. Find new opportunities to humanise technology and give it the five-star treatment.

For example, a cafe server can address a customer by their name based on data from their contact tracing check-in — a service that was once limited to high-end establishments.

How to deliver a safety-first hospitality operation

The current hospitality climate has its challenges. Here’s how to prepare for the future with safety at the forefront:

  1. Lead your pack. People are at the heart of your safety strategy and are often the most unpredictable to manage. Ongoing staff training based on evolving standards and improved internal communication can help your staff take pride in where your business is going.
  2. Optimise processes. With safety being the new standard in the face of rising operational costs, optimization of processes is necessary. Using iAuditor, implement daily checks and use the data to fine-tune operations. Our free COVID-19 response resource will help you stay on top of evolving regulations.
  3. Establish clear lines of communication. The ability to satisfy and anticipate evolving customer needs is a significant challenge. Open up lines of communication through your marketing channels, allowing customers to provide feedback via surveys and polls.

To prepare you for the holiday season, we’ve put together a comprehensive report for hospitality operations leaders to embrace the silver lining so you can come out on top, too. You can download the full report here