4 Ways to Overcome the Unique Challenges of Restaurants & Hospitality in 2021

Written by
Marie Merien

The hospitality industry is one of the sectors that bore the brunt of the global COVID-19 pandemic. As planes were grounded, hotels remained closed while restaurants were turned into ghost kitchens that could only provide take-outs or delivery for their customers.


Roughly 42% of diners added delivery during the pandemic. And another 31% plan to continue investing in the service.

This is critical, especially since consumer sentiment for eating out has changed -  53% of adults say buying takeout or delivery is essential to the way they live. And 68% say they're more likely to purchase takeout or delivery than prior to the pandemic.

According to Deloitte’s State of the Consumer Tracker, business travel, which has been a key driver of revenues for the hospitality industry, will also take some time to recover, with estimates ranging from the end of 2020 to two or three years from then.


So as Covid-19 continues to mark the future of restaurants and the hospitality sector, unique challenges will continue to arise. However, with the right set of concrete actions, it’s possible for restaurants to boost their restaurant operations and hospitality management to shape the next normal. Here's how.


Table of Contents

  • Restoring Customer's Lost Vote of Confidence
  • Restrictions on Retail Operations
  • Customers' Sticky Post-pandemic Behaviors
  • Shaping The Next Retail Normal for Restaurants and Hospitality


Restoring Customer's Lost Vote of Confidence 

restaurant hospitality compliance

According to a study on the impacts of COVID-19 and recovery strategies in the Spanish hospitality industry, confidence in the destination country and hotel companies are the two main decision-drivers for guests.


Lots of hotels including well-known chains have taken to stay safe programs that offer temperature checks, on-site medical care, hygiene, and free hand sanitizer products.


Guests prefer and value extra cleaning routines that include downtime between stays, sanitation with UV lights, rapid tests at check-in, and other measures to help them feel and stay safe.


How to overcome:

Hotels and restaurants can ensure they showcase compliance with visual merchandising and have state-issued certificates of cleanliness and safety to restore the confidence in their guests. 

Making sure your retail compliance is on point will be key: a mobile app for restaurants and hospitality can help you make sure your brand, cleanliness and safety standards are met. Empowering your restaurant and hospitality employees with two-way communications, documents and checklists can reduce any health and safety incidents and enable them to spend more time welcoming your customers.


Restrictions on Retail Operations

restaurant hospitality operations covid

Many countries are easing restrictions on businesses. Hotels and restaurants were significantly impacted for a longer period of time compared to other businesses owing to the lockdowns, social distancing and retail compliance measures. All these factors also consequently affected travel, entertainment, and other related activities in the restaurant and hospitality industry.


How to overcome:

Communicating on your reopening measures with updated standard procedures including new hygiene and safety protocols across your restaurants and locations helps to reassure potentially anxious customers.


Adjust business processes to improve efficiency by bringing back furloughed staff and aligning shifts based on customer behavior to restart dine-in services. Some hotels and restaurants are using innovative tactics like partnering with other companies to share staffing through talent-exchange programs. 

Customers’ ‘Sticky’ Post-pandemic Behaviors

restaurant hospitality operations reopening

Since the pandemic began, hotels and restaurants lost their loyal guests, first-time customers before the crisis, and potential customers. These customers have since become accustomed to ordering online or cooking at home, which will likely be sticky behavior post-pandemic. 


Plus, according to Harvard Business Review, 38% of consumers plan to do more shopping online. 


How to overcome:

To entice customers back to on-premises dining, hotels and restaurants can reactivate customers using a segmented approach. This approach will include their loyal guests, customers who spent money elsewhere, people who became first-time customers during the crisis, and potential customers:

  • Send loyal guests personalized messages with information about when you’ll be open and restore confidence that it’s safe for them to return on-premises. 
  • For customers who make their meals at home or shifted to your competitors during the pandemic, use just-in-time offers and loyalty-driven price promotions with the most popular items and personalized favorites.
  • If you got first-time customers during the crisis, use special offers to initiate them into your loyalty program. Ensure consistency across your digital platforms including your app and social media pages. 
  • For potential customers who previously patronized other restaurants, you can reevaluate your spending mix and find out how to invest your marketing spend across multiple channels.

Also, don't forget to communicate and train all these initiatives to your staff, from visual merchandising to sales methods!

Shaping the Next Retail Normal for Restaurants and Hospitality

restaurant hospitality management

While restaurants and hotels won’t simply revert to business as usual, there’s an opportunity to innovate and redefine business in the next normal.


The priorities right now should include reinventing the menu and rethinking restaurant design to benefit from the shift to off-premises dining. Other priorities include assessment of the store footprint and digitizing customer engagement through deep personalization to retain customers and capture next-generation loyalty.


Taking action now will go a long way towards ensuring that people will once again enjoy on-premises dining while preserving their businesses through the crisis, and serving customers long after the recovery.

Brands like Pizza Hut and KFC already trust SimpliField to boost their retail performance across all locations. Find out more by booking a custom demo with us here!

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