Changes Made to Last
Updated: Aug 2, 2021
The world is getting lazier and has been for years. I don’t mean to sound cynical, it’s human nature to want to find the quickest and easiest way to do things. It is this basic principle which drives many new inventions and innovations and one that springs to mind is mobile phone ordering apps.
I remember before the pandemic hit, when I would embark to Wetherspoons with my friends where they would all walk past the bar on the way to sit down at a table, whipping each of their phones out to order drinks on the Wetherspoons app. This was particularly bizarre to me, as a lot of the time the bar would be empty and it would take longer to order your drinks on the app waiting for someone to bring over your pint, rather than ordering the traditional way at the bar.
Fast-forward to today and the hospitality sector is coming out of hibernation from (what seemed to them) the never-ending pandemic and they had to make some radical changes. Although we are now legally allowed to go up to the bar and order a pint and a packet of pork scratchings, many places are continuing to operate a table service system. Customers are very much used to sitting straight down and waiting for someone to appear with their phone order, such that they do not want to go back to the traditional way of ordering. Why should they? This is much easier!
It was by similar logic that allowed the blow up of Netflix, Deliveroo and Amazon Prime, where customers managed to find a way to get what they desired without the need for dreaded human interaction.
Speaking from my customer service experience, I can say this is probably the dream of 99% of those working in hospitality. For bar staff no longer need to serve a sea of customers swarming them, they instead prepare drinks as the orders appear on their iPad for the team of servers to take them out. The same goes for ordering food, which can be done seamlessly on the app, where customers can select what they want from the menu and note down their preferences and allergies. Furthermore, the online menus can be updated there and then, such that to avoid the awkwardness of the server saying, “I’m sorry, madam, but we have run out of that item”, to instead simply put a line through it on the app and mark as “unavailable”.
So through this adaptation to mobile ordering, many businesses were able to overcome the social distancing dilemma and integrate a safe practice into their service. You would think that now social restrictions are easing and hospitality has a new way to serve their customers that business would thrive. But there is now a new challenge they will need to overcome, and it’s hybrid!
With hybrid working becoming the norm and many people continuing to work from home, this poses a new challenge for the hospitality sector. With a lot less commuter traffic passing train station coffee shops and delis, the revenue earned during these peak times will likely be far less than before the pandemic. The same for many food stores in London who make most their money from the lunchtime rush of those who were working in offices, but now will likely be at home making their own ham sandwiches.
The proof is yet to be seen as to whether post-lockdown revenues are affected by hybrid working, but the point remains that hospitality, like all other sectors, is not immune to change and must find ways to adapt to its ever-changing environment.