PIVOT! How creativity is key to hospitality industry’s bounce back

Hospitality industry pivots to meet new normal

Pivot.. pivot… PIVOT!!!

Everyone remembers the episode in Friends when Ross, Rachel and Chandler are trying to get the couch up the stairs and Ross is shouting “Pivot” to no avail! Well that is exactly what the hospitality industry is going through at the moment! We are holding the future of our industry in our hands, stuck on a corner, knowing we have to pivot but not entirely sure how to do it! So what is a pivot? A pivot is when a company makes a change to its business model after realising that they are unable to service the market in its current format.

So how do we accomplish that?

I spoke to a number of companies this week to check in how they are adapting and I was delighted to get such a positive response. For example, I spoke to senior management in Boojum and they told me how they decided early on to meet the challenge head-on. They left a small number of stores open for delivery only as well as click and collect and adapted the layout of all their kitchens to create a new workflow that kept the staff a safe distance apart while not affecting productivity. They are now looking at reopening more stores with the same template. Boojum also introduced initiatives for staff that were temporarily laid off, one of which was a free daily meal! This is a fantastic idea as it kept staff engaged with the brand while not working and highlighted to the staff how they are valued by management.

This echoes reports that I am getting when I speak to people in the Quick Service Restaurant Industry on the high street. Most have pivoted their business to service takeaway and click and collect demand which allows them to remain open and functional while working away in the background figuring out how they are going to manage to return to regular service. Amazingly, some QSR operators who have adapted to take advantage of the demand for home delivery are reporting that their sales figures are level with figures for 2019 with one operator that I spoke to admitting that he was in the middle of opening a new outlet!

What about hotels?

We are seeing that a number of hotels and restaurant are starting to reopen, offering a reduced menu for click and collect and home delivery. Earlier, I spoke to The Castleknock Hotel who is doing just that. They have been busy designing and implementing a new service for their customers which has been a massive success. They have adapted the kitchen, implemented new Health & Safety guidelines and also rotated the staff to ensure that social distancing protocols adhered to. By rotating the staff on smaller shifts, it also promotes employee engagement and give the staff a sense of purpose albeit in a limited capacity at present. Now doing a takeout coffee service, they will keep the call and collect model when the Hotel fully reopens and they also hope to expand by adding of a new outdoor area in the coming weeks!

There is a lot to look forward to in the coming weeks as we start to see the ingenuity and resilience of the Hospitality Industry adapt to challenges in the market. There are green shoots starting to spring up so get up off that couch and pivot…

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