If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that this is a time of unpredictability and uncertainty for everyone, not least the hospitality and F&B industries. Following Boris Johnson’s recent unveiling of a conditional plan for “reopening society”, instead of receiving clarity, businesses are even more at a loss as to what the immediate future holds for them. A key question right now is what exactly hospitality and F&B’s new normal will look like?

Nevertheless, despite this uncertainty and even if your business is temporarily closed or operating on a delivery/takeaway-only basis, you need to make sure you’re actively communicating with your customers during lockdown, as well as planning ahead for various contingencies. Katch our tips below for adapting to hospitality and F&B’s new normal:

Keep Talking

Woman holding pencil-drawn megaphone (Hospitality and F&B's New Normal)

A recent Kantar survey on consumer media habits revealed a 61% increase in social media engagement during COVID-19 compared to normal usage figures, which is a huge indicator of the importance of communicating with your audience at the moment. Whether you’re hosting cooking tutorials on IGTV, Q&As on Facebook Live, or reposting fun user-generated content – communicating with your online audience is key when it comes to keeping your brand top of mind during these difficult times. By effectively marketing your brand now, with the future in mind, you’ll give your business the best chance of attracting new customers and, subsequently, thriving when this crisis subsides.

Incorporate targeted campaigns, roll out geofencing, strengthen your SEO, and invest in SEM and YouTube advertising as part of your updated marketing strategy. Moreover, don’t forget to tap into traditional PR, such as feature articles in local and regional media publications. Additionally, you should consider the value of email newsletters as a powerful marketing tool. A data report found that open rates for retail emails have risen by 40% during COVID-19. Therefore, if you’re not already keeping in touch with your customers via email, now is the time to build a database, build engagement and build up the conversation about your business.

Prepare for the New Normal

'New Normal' in wooden blocks (Hospitality and F&B's New Normal)

As with most things in life, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. It’s vital that you consistently evolve your approach and plan ahead to ensure your business is equipped to deal with ongoing developments in this escalating situation. No matter when your business gets the go-ahead to reopen properly, you need to prepare for hospitality and F&B’s new version of normal. Reduced restaurant/bar capacities and social distancing are likely to be the norm for the foreseeable future, which means delivery and takeaway will remain vital components to F&B businesses’ strategies long after lockdown.

Upgrade your delivery and takeaway services, not just to deal with current circumstances, but to give your business a fighting chance after restrictions have been completely lifted. For many customers, even when they can finally dine out, social distancing rules will lessen the appeal of doing so. Consequently, they’ll still choose to stay at home, and you need to make sure your business stands out for its delivery and takeaway options, along with flawless health and safety practices for dine-in customers.

Add fun, personal and creative touches to your delivery packaging and expand your menu. As restrictions are relaxed further, larger groups will, in turn, be permitted to gather in homes. Therefore, you should be planning to consistently refresh your delivery/takeaway menu and regularly adding new family meals, party packs, sharing deals, and more.  

Costa del UK

Beach chairs (Hospitality and F&B's New Normal)

According to the CabinBookers 2020 UK Holiday Survey, staycations could be set to boom once lockdown restrictions are lifted entirely, with 90% of the people surveyed saying they were planning a UK holiday after the pandemic. As a result, businesses across the hospitality sector should be upping their games when it comes to marketing and communications, to target a locked down audience longing for a post-pandemic holiday. International travel restrictions could be in place long into 2021, which gives you ample opportunity to unleash creative and engaging marketing campaigns, containing aspirational imagery and messaging that leverages people’s need for escapism.

Show a united front! Team up with other local businesses and take advantage of each other’s strengths to boost tourism and commerce in your region through collaborative F&B, hospitality, retail and activity packages or initiatives. By working together, you can establish your business and others as integral fixtures of a wider staycation destination – one that keeps consumers coming back year after year. Reach out to fellow business-owners in your area and arrange a call or Zoom session, to brainstorm ideas for strategic partnerships, joint marketing campaigns, events, festivals and other initiatives that could subsequently lead to industry-wide recovery and growth.

Regardless of the approach you decide to take or campaign you choose to roll out, make sure it’s backed by a strong, engaging and creative communications strategy that gives consumers peace of mind and assures them that each and every business in the area prioritises visitors’ health and safety.

Planning ahead for how your business can stay relevant and adapt to hospitality and F&B’s new normal? Katch the right advice and get in touch with our teams in London or Dubai!