Tourism and hospitality as an industry, considered to be the epitome of the service industry will need to reinvent the wheel and figure out strategies to continue providing their high level of service keeping the social distancing parameter and customer confidence in mind.
“Life is like a prism. What you see depends on how you turn the glass.” ― Jonathan Kellerman
The COVID-19 pandemic has made us all start looking at life through a different prism. The way we interact interpersonally will stand changed for a very long time. The impact is going to be enormous and unfortunately, it is not yet predictable – be it the impact on revenue, or the effect it is going to be having on all the other related aspects like procurement, etc.
Tourism and hospitality as an industry, considered to be the epitome of the service industry will need to reinvent the wheel and figure out strategies to continue providing their high level of service keeping the social distancing parameter and customer confidence in mind. This will need to continue until the guest confidence is regained and at the same time a robust virus solution is found.
I am proud to be a part of the industry which even during these testing times has stayed united and provided their services towards the greater cause of humanity – be it in the form of providing their hotels for quarantine facilities or utilizing their kitchens for providing food to the needy.
Getting the industry back
A hurdle by the name COVID has been encountered. Unfortunately, the impact of this is going to be felt by many hotels and restaurants and the respective professionals. The industry is going to see negative growth for a while, before getting back on the bandwagon for growth and expansion.
While we believe that the industry has been in expansion mode, we were already facing certain constraints post demonetization and implementation of GST. As it was getting back on track, COVID struck. We need to stay focused and look at growth restarting from ground zero, taking calculated baby steps. We need to bring to use all our resources and experience to win over this situation.
There is a reset of the global order across industries and being on the ball will help. Polishing our skills, strategizing and implement effective measures is going to be the key to quick recovery. Two major aspects have to be the key focus areas for each and every industry. Cost prudency by controlling spends and implementation of new standards set to address the current scenario is going to be crucial.
Plan the future
For professionals within the industry this is time to recuperate, enhance your skills and relearn. Planning for the future and polishing their skills would be essential to face the competitive environment of the future. While many people would have to look at alternate opportunities in the medium term, the ones who stay prepared and ready for the challenges with their ammunition of knowledge and skill would bounce back at the earliest.
Road to recovery
The road to recovery is going to be one bumpy ride and one needs to stay focused with a sharp eye on the cash flows. Future business opportunities are going to be strained with cash flow concerns so plan and spend wisely. The hotels need to conserve cash by minimizing all CAPEX expenses and utilizing the existing human infrastructure to manage maintenance and other aspects.
Another crucial point is managing the anxiety levels of your workforce. Work towards ensuring that they continue to feel like a part of the organization and are not left on tenterhooks where they fear the loss of job. After all, they are the brand ambassadors of your organization. Also, keep your supply chain engaged and appraised of the ongoing situation. They are your partners in business and perhaps going through an even more difficult situation on the business front. Continue to show your humane side.
Customer confidence is going to be important. Showcase to them what steps you are undertaking to keep your environment safe and hygienic for them to visit. When it comes to cuisine, the future is going be focused on healthy cooking derived from local produce (on the principles of farm to plate). We need to work on the philosophy of think global and act local. Chefs will play a major role in creating confidence in the mind of the people. They should engage in interactions with guests through social platforms, personal interactions and informative video clips shared with their existing database of customers. Social media will play a big role in helping the food industry revive. Do use that medium effectively. Menus are going to be smaller, simpler and rotatable more often. Buffet services should be avoided. Perhaps offering your guests food which boosts their immunity and keeps them strong would go well with the customers. Smart pricing would be crucial in the current situation. Value add services can be provided to the guests to win back their confidence and showcase new products.
Foremost would be to promote the industry through their platform, as an industry that is safe and must be supported for all. Tax concessions must be offered to the industry for effective revival. Secondly, renewal and extension of licenses must be done at concessional rates, and loans at very reasonable interest should be introduced to support industry post lockdown.
Regaining customer confidence
This is the time for the industry to unite and work towards building consumer confidence. A dedicated effort needs to be made by all concerned stakeholders to ensure that the customer starts to come back and help the industry to get back on their feet.
Food will never go out of fashion and the future trends in the food segment are going to be experimental. The only thing people would be wary of is where their food is being prepared and where they are going for consuming the same. Innovative thinking and most importantly showcasing to the world what hygiene standards are being practiced would be the key to survival and quick recovery. Hygienic delivery of food utilizing state of the art packaging material, cooking for a group of special guests at their venue, could be some new ways of business development.
We as an industry have gone through many situations and together we would be able to weather this storm too. Keep the faith and have confidence in yourself. Look at the future as a rising sun which brings in new hope. Keep the faith and work towards a bright new future for the industry, which is free from all the difficulties and hurdles which were faced in the past. THIS TOO SHALL PASS!