Seemingly overnight, the food and hospitality industry has had to pivot drastically, facing a multitude of issues fueled by a global pandemic that mandates social distancing, stay-at-home isolation and work-from-home guidelines.
To help the hospitality industry succeed in today’s challenging marketplace, Sterling-Rice Group brought together its internal cross-functional team of experts to create innovative solutions and strategies to help navigate what’s next. The report, 2020 Hospitality and The New Normal, outlines actions to take right away, as well as ways to plan for the future as the world evolves to a new reality:
Reassure and Reframe Experiences
The SRG report suggests that brands should have clear communications about new standards of service to reassure the public that ordering takeout and delivery from their favorite restaurants is safe. It’s also an important way that they can contribute to the health of the local businesses and connect with their communities.
“Communication has never been more important,” explains Amy Shipley, Managing Director and Partner. “Remind your customers that they can still order delivery and enjoy the experience. Reassure them that restaurants have always had food-safety procedures in place. Create ‘no-contact delivery’ protocols and details about what you are doing to ensure health and safety.”
Maintaining a Sense of Place
Also of great importance is the brand experience, which relies on the destination itself and the joy of dining out. In this age of social and physical distancing, brands need to find ways to show the brand experience in new ways. Enhanced mobile apps can reinforce messaging around delivery and pickup, and packaging can create those brand moments that make the dining experience so special.
The report suggests that elevating the drive through and developing new options for curbside pick-up can be inventive ways to solve for today’s environment. Jennifer Jones, Head of Brand Design and Managing Partner at SRG notes that “Brands must re-imagine their key touchpoints to inspire ways to connect with guests to bring the dine-in experience to them. Redefining the physical space can also be a way to adhere to new standards while using space and equipment effectively in a welcoming way.”’
Jeremy Kay, Director of Brand Environments for SRG, states “There’s the obvious need to get through this period of crisis using the means available to you. But we also need the foresight to think through ‘how will my business survive in the longer term?’ Restaurants need to cater to the changing customer needs, still create a sense of place, and reaffirm the brand promise, like a commitment to good food, new grab and go options, and customer safety.”
The report provides a rendering to illustrate how restaurants might quickly and efficiently re-purpose their current space, providing strategies that could be implemented with available assets or that could be purchased for a minimal investment, to create a new ‘store within a store.’
Dial Up In-Home Excitement
Making virtual connections and replicating what guests crave most by curating menu items and offering meal kits for family-style dining is key to keeping consumers coming back. The report provides inspiration for restaurants to offer do-it-yourself meal kits, reassuring comfort classics, and adapting takeout menus to feature fewer, better items that meet these needs.
“Brands can reframe moments that matter and move them online or in-home to keep diners engaged,” notes Liz Seelye, Managing Director and Partner at SRG. “Restaurants can align offerings with hit shows or family activities, such as cookie kits, pizza kits and even cocktail kits or wine pairings.”
In addition to giving guests a sense of community, Brands are rallying together in
an unprecedented fashion and moving from being competitors to collaborators. Movements like “saverestaurants” are encouraging brands to unite while giving consumers a way to participate in that support.
For more insight on immediate and long-term solutions, you can download the report here.
Headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, SRG is an independent, nationally recognized brand consultancy and creative agency. The agency has expertise in B2C and B2B insights, brand strategy and positioning, new product innovation, advertising, culinary and design. SRG has been ranked on Outside Magazine’s Best Places to Work list for the past nine years and was also recognized by Ad Age as a 2016 and 2017 Best Place to Work.