Delivery and takeaway were already rising trends in the hospitality industry in the spring of 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit restaurants particularly hard. Some were forced to close; others had to adapt and focus on home delivery as the only way to keep their doors open — that took guts (and you know that better than anyone). As a result, hospitality entrepreneurs, managers and restaurant owners began looking for ways to make the most of the online side of their business. And more than two years after the pandemic started, the challenge remains the same.
Here are some key topics for the hospitality industry in 2022:
🤳 01. Accelerated Digitalization
🍽 02. Maintaining and improving the customer experience
🌾 03. Sustainable, healthy, and high-quality products
🤳 01. Accelerated Digitization
In recent months, many of the current solutions used by restaurants — even the more traditional ones — have been digital. As consumers use digital solutions to feed themselves, restaurants are also looking at technology with new eyes:
#Online & In-App Ordering | According to data from the Kantar OOH panel, delivery spending has increased 224% since 2019 (source). Whether for special occasions or convenience, this habit is here to stay. The rise of digital ordering has also impacted physical spaces; we're also likely to see more self-service and designated areas for food delivery riders and consumers to pick up take-out orders.
#Digital Payment Methods | The pandemic has accelerated contactless payments. Digital wallets, QR codes or Apple or Google Pay payments: we can now see customers paying seamlessly; all they've to do is tap and go. But especially when ordering online, it's becoming increasingly important to accommodate all consumer payment preferences to create a faster, safer, and hassle-free experience. Take note of this.
#Digital integration | Digital multiplies your presence on multiple platforms, but not your efforts. All-in-one platforms (like Kitch) help you efficiently manage all your digital offerings in a single place that connects directly to your point-of-sale system (POS). A place where you can update, track and monitor everything from your inventory to delivery. With the right software, you'll have clear workflows, save time and even reduce food waste and costs at the same time.
#Automation | Have you heard of delivery automation? Drones and robots dedicated to delivery aren't a parallel sci-fi reality. It's much closer than you might imagine. In fact, robots could be the new best friends of human employees; they can help with hiring, manual errors and high employee turnover. What a relief.
#Digital Presence | Website, social media, Google Search, you name it. People will look for you anywhere they could eventually find something about you, whether you're there or not. Don't miss the chance to reach more people and connect with your community. It's a chance to tell your story, show off your delicious dishes and join the conversation.
#Costumer Data | Digital will uncover your customer data from all the many digital places you're in (online delivery shops, payment systems, reservation systems, social media and so on). And as you know, data is the fuel for better decisions and sales. Powerful insights and a decent CRM, what more do you want to hear?
#Digital Support | Once your customers are in the digital space, they won't pick up the phone to book; they'll want to make their booking on the go. They won't be telling you about their experience. They'll be sharing and reviewing you online - for better or worse. So technology-enabled systems allow you to meet their needs quickly and personally. And if we want to go even deeper, we can always talk about the voice-enabled technology around the corner: "Alexa, please show me the best restaurant in town!"
#Ghost or Cloud Kitchens | Digital is also a window into all kitchens catering to tables without physical space. Many restaurants have created virtual operations out of their premises to have low operating and rental costs and to create specific menus designed to deliver.
🍽 02. Maintaining & improving the consumer experience
Even with all this digital evolution, people will continue to be themselves: looking for their favourite restaurants and dishes and the attention you've always given them. Now they expect all of that through a delivery experience.
This is even more important when considering that consumers are in tune with technology. Once they share their data with brands, they expect convenient recommendations that match their preferences, tastes and experiences (2022 Global Consumer Trends).
That's why it's crucial to maintain and improve the customer experience, especially if you're an independent restaurant. Having your own online channel and maintaining your identity are the two factors that will help you keep your customers happy and loyal as you can access their data and surprise them (yey!). You'll know their favourite dishes when they order them, how often they order, and customise marketing campaigns exclusively for your most loyal customers.
🌾 03. Sustainable, healthy and high-quality products
From production to the consumer's table, it's time to pay attention to what we cook and eat, how and why, whether in your restaurant or at home. Sustainable cooking is more than a trend. It's a long-term trade-off for the food system.
Information will play a central role in cooking and eating in a conscious and climate-friendly way. In fact, Oracle's Restaurant and Trends for 2022 survey (in Food Retail) shows that more than 90% of respondents consider efforts to reduce food waste and clear labelling of the origin of food and its ingredients to be necessary.
Moreover, in a post-pandemic world - beyond sustainability - we're talking about a regenerative vision that means respecting our earth to produce healthier food and improve biodiversity (our recommended reading: the Regeneration Rising Report by Wunderman Thompson).
And all of this will have a massive impact, either on the planet or on our bodies, as more and more experts link good nutrition with good health. Good nutrition helps to improve physical health and our well-being, which is why many consumers are increasingly looking for dishes prepared with high-quality regional products. Because when it comes to mental health, food can also positively impact our mood and well-being: did you know that 90% of serotonin receptors are located in the gut? (Harvard, 2018).
Reducing the consumption of animal-based foods is an option that more and more people are adopting, whether for ethical, health or environmental reasons. Initiatives such as "Meatless Mondays" and plant-based foods and meals are on the rise. But we can also see a massive increase of flexitarians. According to the study "The Radiography of Plant Nutrition", the number of Spaniards adopting this diet has almost doubled since the beginning of the pandemic (42% compared to 24%).
A lot of food for thought, we know.
Save some time to see what you can do about.
Your Kitch Team.