Hamilton Rentals Steve Shelsher Talks with CHL Digital Magazine about how technology can help transform the hospitality industry following the Covid effect
The obvious needs to be stated; the pandemic in 2020 has had a devastating effect on the hospitality industry, the likes of which has never been seen before. The unthinkable has happened, unshakeable, uncancellable, events have all fallen foul of Covid19.
However, there’s a lot to be positive about in 2021, as the vaccine rollout gathers pace, events – guests will be back. A recent Lightspeed study shows that there is a strong desire among consumers to dine out after lockdown, with 34% of Brits surveyed revealing they want to eat out, as long as they are guaranteed a table.
Taking a positive from a negative, businesses have invested in new technologies as a direct result of the advance of the coronavirus pandemic. So, what are the technology trends for 2021 that are going to help the hospitality and catering sector return to work with confidence?
- Personal safety, using technology such as temperature screening and monitoring systems with automated air quality monitoring, filtration, and purification systems, it’s possible to create safe environments in which customers can relax.
- Connectivity, to get maximum ROI from any technology, you need to ensure you have excellent connectivity. If your WiFi is too slow and doesn’t have enough bandwidth for multiple users, it can quickly turn into a frustrating customer experience and cause a much larger headache.
- ‘Contactless’ has been the buzzword in the last few months as a result of the pandemic, with contactless payment, no cash in hand, no human contact is required – more hygienic and safer – and it’s quick, instant and convenient.
- QR Codes in this ‘no-touch’ era, auto-scanning barcodes with smartphone cameras on posters, tables, coasters, doors or websites allows customers to access online menus, order and pay – without contact – keeping customers and employees safe. Clear benefits and at relatively low costs.
- Digital signage can be easily accessed, customised, updated and managed in terms of information and content from a remote location at any time and from a wide range of devices, including video walls, large-screen displays and mobile tablets, among others.
There is no doubt the Covid effect has drastically increased the speed of technology being embraced, however whilst the experts predict a rapid economic recovery, the hospitality industry will take longer than most to do so, having suffered so severely. We must consider the human aspect to all that has happened in the past year and that loss of social interaction, which we all dreadfully miss.
It doesn’t need a genius in business economics to understand that in order for hospitality businesses to survive, the top priorities are retaining cash, minimising capex and most importantly, increasing sales. But how can you invest in technology to grow sales when you’re trying to reduce spend?
On a positive note again, the Covid effect can work in favour of the hospitality industry going forward. Technology resellers have been happy with focusing on only their top customers, however the enforced home working of hundreds of thousands of employees has reduced the need for managed services relating to office workplace. Correspondingly, resellers are now turning their attention to the Small to Medium Businesses (or SMBs) as the potential target customer of the future. As a result, there is more competition, more choice, more avenues to find the best solutions for the hospitality sector to get back on its feet, and more opportunities to get the right technology and right price for this to happen.