The Chambers Dictionary defines hospitality as ‘(friendly welcome and) entertainment of guests … a room or a suite where guests, delegates, etc are welcomed and entertained’. We are social creatures; for many of us, hospitality settings are the backdrop to our lives. Generation after generation has gathered to share key life milestones in restaurants, bars, cafes, hotels, and every other kind of hospitality setting. The global pandemic challenged the hospitality sector to its core, so let’s take a look at how hospitality can learn to live with Covid-19
Adapting to a socially-distanced world
Hospitality was crippled when lockdown began in March 2020. Businesses closed with no idea when or if they would re-open. Many entered lockdown after a tough first financial quarter, adding hardship to an already brutal change in circumstance.
Businesses of all shapes and sizes rose to the challenge and adapted with ingenuity and grit, with takeaway and delivery services keeping businesses and communities afloat during a time of deep uncertainty. Experts warn that it is essential for hospitality to create medium- and long-term solutions for living with Covid-19, starting with solid communication.
Communication is key
UK Hospitality, the country’s top trade association, forecast that one million jobs would be at risk and one-third of the hospitality industry could be permanently shut down. Furthermore, the hospitality sector is likely to be the last to emerge from the financial fallout from the pandemic. As a result, hospitality faces a defining communications challenge.
During lockdown, communication strategies focussed on logistics, such as how delivery and takeaway services would operate and keeping customers updated on radically different opening hours. Industry-specific experts, such as food PR agency staff, say that the focus must now shift to operations.
Businesses must address how they will operate and pivot their communications strategy to include their new operating models. Solid communications strategies showcasing new operating models, perhaps with the help of a food PR agency, will reassure staff and customers nervous of social interaction. Industry experts warn that without a clear operations narrative in their communications strategy, businesses will struggle to stay afloat.
Will hospitality survive?
The world is transitioning to a new way of living. Anyone who has worked in hospitality knows that part of the job is smiling through chaos and uncertainty. If any sector can reinvent itself and thrive, it is the hospitality industry.