Over the past six months this industry has experienced extreme hardship in the wake of the bushfire crisis, and again with the COVID-19 outbreak. In response to last week's nationwide announcements we have aggregated information as it relates to COVID-19 and reopening the hospitality industry in Australia.
Reopening the Economy
On May 8th the National Cabinet announced a three-stage framework for re-opening the economy. As of May 15th New South Wales will ease restrictions. Under stage one, restaurants, cafes and shops are permitted to open; up to 10 people are allowed to gather in businesses or public spaces, or 1 person per 4 square metres.
The framework is a guideline for the states to work within and will be realised differently in each state. The National Cabinet is reviewing the progress of each state on a three week schedule with the three stages aiming to be completed in July. (Daily Updates, Sydney Morning Herald)
The COVIDSafe app speeds up the current manual process of government contact tracing. It allows the government to contact any person who has downloaded the app and notify them if they have been exposed to COVID-19. The technology is able to detect others with the app through a digital handshake using Bluetooth.
The number of downloads of COVIDSafe is playing a key role in the relaxing of restrictions nationwide.
At the end of the pandemic, users will be prompted to delete the app from their phone (Contact App FAQs).}
Preparing to Reopen
Restaurants and bars are the place where socialisation happens and while they may not be exactly as they were prior to the pandemic, below are some practical considerations operators are making.
Review all lines of your business. A sustained reduction in revenue will force you to evaluate and determine how you will turn your trajectory around in the long term.
Review all menus and wine lists. International supply chains have been severely disrupted, supporting local appeals to the guest and can also allow for better planning and forecasting your menu items each season. Bars and Wine Bars are offering Cocktails and Wine in 500 ml's Carafes to reduce the number of trips to the bar or returned trips from a waiter.
Think about the atmosphere including ways that you can use lighting and art to fill the space without creating physical dividers. The pandemic has spurred a feeling of unrest, grief, and anxiety among consumers, who are now craving colors that instill a sense of reassurance and comfort. Architectural digest expects that spaces will gravitate towards hues that mimic the sensation of being in nature, in city spaces in particular. These colours promote internal peace in an age where mental and physical well-being are critical (Architectural Digest). Refresh your playlists and help build a sense of socialisation and modernity with the venue.
Training employees to meet the cautious consumer and improve customer experience (RCA Best Practice Training). Customer service remains number one, review your training scripts and edit them to have a focus on welcoming back the customer. If your sequence of service calls for multiple touch-points at the table.
Shift your marketing key message to build confidence
Social media platform usage and engagement has increased significantly during COVID-19. Create a strategy to communicate with your guests regarding what your business is doing at each phase of the reopen in order to emphasise safety and build confidence (Communicating with your guests, Resy).
- Communicate new hygiene processes to create a sense of security and safety. Share information on how you are keeping your property clean and safe through videos, photos and checklists (World Health Organisation FAQ for SMB).
- If cancellations occur, manage them with compassion (Hospitality Net).
- Highlight different areas of the venue such as outdoor space(s) and the bar, to show how you will be enacting social distancing measures.
- Market hyper locally and think about which customers were most affected by your closure.
- Leverage local partnerships and host a pop-up with another venue.
Bringing in Revenue
Below are some revenue diversification options including a calculator to help evaluate your business.
The Pandemic Pivot
A 30-minute free tool to re-imagine your business over the coming months. The tool calculates your current business model’s viability considering social distancing and how new product offerings might affect your business economics. Together, you can evaluate sustainability and profitability between the two.
Delivery and Pick-Up
We have seen many businesses pivot rapidly to a Delivery and Pick-Up Model. In some cases, delivery has been a band-aid solution to maintain cash flow under restrictions. However, over the long term, it can be an additional source of revenue long after dining rooms have opened (F&B Covid Guide).
Mr Yum has partnered with venues across the country to surface their menus through their own website and control ordering to delivery end-to-end (self-managed).
Most platforms offer the option for venues to fulfil the delivery portion of the order in-house. This option typically reduces commission fees, driver crowding and allows operators to keep a small team (Restaurant and Catering FAQ).
Launched locally in September 2019, DoorDash has committed to reduce commission fees of 50% from all delivery. The platform offers free sign up periods and merchant marketing programs to drive discovery for your venue (Press Release, CEO DoorDash).
Deliveroo are offering reduced commission on order fulfilment by your team and a rigorous contactless delivery policy (Press Release, Roo Community) which they offer to customers as an option to select. The platform has created a playbook of digital marketing tools important for building confidence with your online community once you re-open. A part of the strategy is predicated on how you can communicate with guests the safety and hygiene measures you are putting into place (Playbook, Deliveroo).
Kounta Ordering (powered by Bopple) lets customers place orders and make payments online for pick-up or self-fulfilled delivery. The POS system has additional features to help businesses make data driven decisions on how they manage stock and production.
To avoid wastage, reach out to local authorities (food banks, hospitals, religious institutions, shelters) to check if you can supply them with excess foods. (Sydney Food Recovery Resources).
- Restaurants doing Take-Away in Sydney (Broadsheet)
- What Restaurants and Cafes are doing during the COVID-19 crisis (Good Food)
Create a Shop Experience
In April, Food Retail rose nationally by 26%. Converting your space into a store and offering a socially distanced experience is a way to give guests the type of hospitality and food they are accustomed to in-venue while allowing them to recreate those experiences at home.
Some examples of bottle-shop and grocery:
- Bottle Shops and At-Home Cocktails (Licensing FAQ Sheet):
- Sparkke at the Whitmore, Ode Bunker, Prince of York, Arthur, Bloodwood, Tequila Mockingbird, Peppe’s
- At Home Meal Packs:
Curbside pick-up and contactless payment for your patrons is encouraged (Square).
Reduce your menu
The average delivery time from order received to fulfilment is 37 minutes. For delivery, prioritise your dishes that will travel well. In store, more popular items may have a longer shelf life. Your POS can provide useful data on your most popular and profitable menu items (RCA Advice).
If you are reviewing your menu for re-opening, consider these design methods from POS business Kounta and increase sales by removing dollar signs and price trials.
Find the time to connect with other hospitality professionals. Several heads are better than one! Thought leaders in the industry have curated content relating to what the new “business as usual” could be.
Attend a Webinar or Download the Recording
May 11th - Road to Recovery Webinar (Recording, Melbourne Food and Wine), a panel discussion on commercial matters focusing on how to negotiate the best position for your business in recovery.
May 13th - The Cru in Conversation (Hosted by Cru Media) - Behind the Scenes Restaurant Lockdown, an online webinar series to support and connect the community through shared experiences and learnings in hospitality.
Subscribe to Worksmith, a hospitality focused co-working space that operates as a hub for hospitality professionals to collaborate, innovate and grow. Their site Worksmith Connect has templates and quick guides for navigating commercial matters useful for both yourself and your team.
Subscribe to Deep in the Weeds, a podcast telling the stories of hospitality people dealing with the challenges of COVID-19. The podcast talks commercial matters with influential chefs and restaurateurs, but also offers a broader perspective around mental health in hospitality paired with a pandemic.
Subscribe to Comms Class a source for practical marketing tips and free advice on all things brand, digital and social media in hospitality and tourism.
- Ten Social Media Ideas (even when you've closed your doors)
- Top Tips for Retaining Customers Under Lockdown
Women in Hospitality’s COVID support plan (in partnership with Typsy, an online education platform offering tips and lessons in specialist hospitality skills) are offering free courses through September 2020 (WOHO & Typsy, Support Plan)
Restaurant and Catering Australia have released a COVID-19 Hospitality Best Practice Training Certification for employers and employees to prepare for managing customers while social distancing and cleaning premises and equipment during COVID-19.