Pandemic COVID-19 is dictating new terms for the hospitality industry. Many restaurants, hotels, cafes had to struggle to survive during a lockdown. Experts from Nation Restaurant Association predict that the restaurant business will lose up to $240 billion by the end of 2020. Such arduous times force establishments to switch on online ordering and delivery service. Also, consumers attend to avoid crowded places and more willingly make orders online. Stats from Toast shows that consumers spent more money during online-ordering. The average check size of an online-order is 23% larger than in-store checks.
The restaurant industry is a big part of the economy, with a large number of workplaces. And the primary goal of the whole industry is to survive. One part of restaurants will close completely, another one that is more adaptive and savvier will keep on its feet. Thus, the industry needs to adapt and transform, implement new digital technologies, improve online service, and provide a new contactless experience.
In addition, experts predict that ordering online will become more frequent and everyday occurrence. Such changes help people to stay safe and engage them to order more from home, not spreading the virus. Restaurants that manage to implement the best decisions have more chances to reopen after the pandemic.
Twenty or thirty years ago the pandemic had led to leaving the market a great number of restaurants without any chance to reopen. But nowadays technology and the internet give a great opportunity for the restaurant business.
Recent research has shown that the main competitors of restaurants are not other restaurants, but customers’ homes. 89% of respondents claimed that they prefer to stay at home for dinner neither to eat at restaurants. So, restaurants should ensure health safety for clients and provide digital decisions.
In a world where almost half of the population has smartphones, it's easy to stay in touch with clients by having a restaurant business app. Thus why so many companies have mobile apps.
Clients prefer to use a mobile app for ordering rather than a website as it is more convenient and personalized, has good UX and notifications. With a mobile app, you can expand the business and attract more traffic and clients to your restaurant. Many restaurants offer a discount by ordering in a mobile app. Also, clients use third-party delivery apps to order, as they have a variety of restaurants and bigger choices. But such apps have a great disadvantage. Third-party food delivery companies like Uber Eats, GrubHub, have fees, some of them charge up to 20-30% of revenue. As a result, this is forcing restaurants to increase prices on a menu.
These conditions affect customers who are suffering from an economic crisis and can’t pay more. Consumers tempt to interact directly with restaurants, they avoid apps with hidden fees or monthly subscriptions. Hence why so many company owners invest in software app development. However, the level of competition in the mobile app market is growing. Users tend to use only apps without failures and errors and with great user experience. Thus why the popularity of mobile app testing services is growing.
Social distancing is one of a precautionary measure that is forcing restaurants to shrink the number of tables and bar seats, increase the distance between tables, etc. The result is reducing capacity and profit. Solutions are tools that offer virtual waitlists and booking platforms. Tools with a virtual waitlist allow managing queues and enter changes in schedule, and the system can automatically notify customers about it. Virtual waitlists prevent crowding and long waiting. This is convenient not only for customers as it saves their time but for entrepreneurs as it prevents restaurant downtime.
In current days people avoid touching things that can occur as potential sources of the virus, like money or handrails. Restaurants are public places that bring a lot of risks. But with mobile phones, restaurant owners can reduce customer anxiety and secure customers and employees.
Mobile payments provide contactless transactions without interaction with material money. Mobile apps can gather and save customers' data and offer the best choice that makes ordering quicker and more convenient.
Some suppliers found another decision. They provided QR-code with a menu that clients can scan and don't download an app. Some restaurants introduced "no contact" zones, where interactions are minimal, for example with a QR-code for ordering on tables. Pandemic and online ordering forced companies to improve and design a new type of packaging that maintains food better in the right temperature regime. To build trust, restaurants attach individual labels to show that the package is intact from a restaurant kitchen to a client's house.
Now nobody knows when the pandemic ends. However, scientists claim it will happen after the release of the vaccine in early 2021.
By that time, restaurants should adhere to strict safety guidelines and work by new pandemic rules. New technology and new ways of service won't disappear after the pandemic. Specialists admit there were changes in hospitality service to technology, and pandemic speeded up the process. So, even when the pandemic ends, consumers' behavior gets a new pattern with online ordering and countless interactions.
Fast food restaurants will stay industry leaders in implementing technologies as the most advanced and fast-expanding ones. Such enterprises like KFC or McDonalds adopt new technology faster and bring to the next level the whole industry. For example, McDonald's bought AI from Dynamic Yield last year. This AI is intended to predict the behavior and expectation of customers. It will improve service and stand out McDonald's among competitors.
Pandemic reshaped customers' behavior and, thus, overall industry. Restaurants should adapt to new rules, implement best decisions, and roll to new technologies. Only thus companies can survive in such uncertain times and prepare for a new stage in hospitality service development.