Four Ways the Restaurant Industry Changed During the Pandemic
Reflecting on the current economic situation, we mostly think about pauses and stops, cutoffs and layoffs – and that’s especially true for the hospitality sector. Restaurants, cafes, and bars have been hit hard by the lockdowns and restrictions placed upon them: worries about the health of guests and staff, financial pressures, additional hygiene protocols, and the general uncertainty that comes with a pandemic outbreak.
Amidst all the unexpected and forced changes, there’s one process that received a much-welcomed boost with some very positive results: we’re talking about the adoption of new technology that had to happen overnight. Formerly a staple of more tech-forward restaurants, hospitality businesses were quick to pivot and in a matter of days or weeks, QR codes and virtual menus began cropping up everywhere. So did custom apps that allowed for pre-order and contactless curbside pickup.
Food goes online
What started in the name of public health and business continuation has become a well-accepted, omnipresent sight: many restaurants have taken the leap and established an online presence on app stores and in the smartphones of their clients.
Businesses who had to develop working solutions fast and implement new strategies even faster are leading the cause: a year ago, curbside pickup wasn’t nearly as popular as today, but now it’s the infamous new normal.
The turmoil before the storm
When the government announced the first lockdown, all restaurants, cafes, and bars had to stop operation until further notice. Although it seemed like a standstill, business owners had to reimagine the future to adapt to the “new reality.” As a survival strategy, they had to shut doors for dine-in customers and move to take-out and delivery models.
This overnight transition involved rethinking such simple everyday processes as using to-go containers, packing deliveries, and scheduling for drivers. Dine-in options were no longer in focus, so food establishments were forced to figure out how to keep serving customers safely.
On top of everything, the industry’s connection with customers was temporarily lost. Restaurant and café owners no longer had a chance to serve people having a good time over a delicious meal or hot drink. No more "My compliments to the chef" or “See you tomorrow.”
Taking on a New Shift
Just like the ability to keep businesses open, human interaction is crucial for both sides, and thanks to technology it continued in a new way. Here are the four biggest changes we’ve observed in the hospitality industry over the past year:
- Relying on Digital Tools: Setting up applications and using delivery tools helped many restaurants to keep the lights on – especially while the severe initial restrictions were in place. New apps turned out to be very handy for those former regulars who found themselves locked in their apartments and wanted to get their favourite snacks, meals, and drinks. Several months in and starting with 25% capacity, businesses were able to open their doors again. Safety was in the spotlight, so paper menus were out of question. The technological solution was to use handheld devices and QR codes to give customers access to menus and ordering tools.
- Contactless Pay: Another thing on the rise is the "Tap” function. While many people haven't been carrying any cash in their wallets for a couple of years because it's so convenient to leave that bulky wallet at home, these days, people are encouraged to pay online or by card to prevent the spread of the virus since cash is notoriously covered in germs. Very importantly, contactless pay has also created safe working conditions for front-line staff.
- Reducing Crowds: The last time you saw a long line in front of you in a restaurant was probably back in March, right? Nowadays, ordering in-person has moved to ordering via a website or mobile app for pickup or delivery. You can choose the time when you want to pick up your order or when you want it to be delivered to your door. Both options allow the restaurant staff to plan their preparation and cooking time so that no one is left behind, and social distancing rules are followed.
- Agile Mindsets: The speed of shifts which the industry had to accommodate was remarkable. While it takes about four months on average to develop an application, this timeframe was not feasible for the pandemic era when we counted days and weeks (which, admittedly, felt like months).
At Craver, we’re happy to say that we were able to help many businesses in the hospitality industry pivot from paper menus and dine-in only to a fully digital menu including pre-order function and delivery option – and that we can deliver the results you need in a matter of four weeks, not months.
The pandemic hit unexpectedly hard, but at the same time, it triggered some profound changes in everything from internal business structures to communication with customers. It paved the way for technology to enter more businesses than ever. The Craver Team can make this process smooth and enjoyable for you and your restaurant, bar, or café. Talk to us today to discuss how a tailor-made mobile app can enhance your business.