Restaurants and others in the hospitality business were uniquely affected by the pandemic. While few people want to talk about COVID at this point, it has changed the way we approach marketing toward our restaurant and hospitality clients.
Let us first take a look at the issues restaurants have faced. While numerous, there are a few key pain points we have seen those in the industry feel the most.
Difficulty hiring and retaining employees – The restaurant industry has enormous turnover. Anyone who works in a restaurant can tell you how quickly their co-workers come and go, and how they perceive there are always greener pastures, and become tempted to leave as well. The physical labor required to work in restaurants, as well as having to deal with difficult customers, takes a toll on restaurant employees.
I work at a restaurant, and the hours spent on my feet trying to keep up with demand and please everyone can be exhausting. Post-pandemic, restaurants are filling up beyond usual capacity, and hospitality employees are working harder than ever to compensate.
Employees all need a comfortable work environment, quality leadership, and higher pay. As a firm, we target our marketing services towards making sure our clients can sustain employees by providing adequate pay, flexible schedules, and empathetic and loyal management.
If this criteria is not visible to potential employees, onboarding the right people is not possible. The growing importance of emphasizing the value of restaurant employees should not be overlooked, as our clients depend on them to survive a post-pandemic world where an increasing number of people are wanting to dine out again.
Inability to satisfy increasing demand – More people are venturing out to restaurants and eating out more frequently. We have not seen this much demand in years, but we likely will not reach levels as high as pre-pandemic. A study conducted by Deloitte revealed that “as excited as some consumers are to eat out in restaurants once again, 1 in 3 consumers say they will be dining out less than before.
Restaurants will likely benefit from an ongoing interest in takeout and delivery—40% say they will do this more than before—but this is also food for at-home consumption” There is increased demand for eating in restaurants and ordering takeout, which can be a burden to try to maintain when we have not dealt with such high demand combining the two forms.
We first need to use takeout as an asset. While it can be frustrating to have to fulfill takeout orders in an already full restaurant full of people waiting for their food, the data shows that the number of takeout orders is going to increase, so we must take advantage of it. It is crucial that restaurants who want to be successful post-pandemic capitalize on their ability to provide takeout and utilize marketing to do so. Ordering takeout is supposed to be done with ease. It is convenient, fast, and the best way to eat quality, fresh food without having to sit in at a restaurant or make it yourself.
We suggest making takeout options visible as one of the very first things a customer sees on your website, Instagram page, and more. Figure out what format is most convenient for your restaurant and your customer, and let the orders pour in. Takeout can be overwhelming at first for busy restaurants relearning how to meet the needs of increasing demand, but it is up to us to figure out how we can make the process of takeout orders as seamless as possible so that we can give our best to our customers demanding, rightfully so, a more flexible and modernized restaurant experience.
Not fully adopting a digital presence – I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that you make your restaurant visible and enticing online. I never go to a restaurant without first visiting their social media and their website.
The best ways to do this are by embracing omni-channel and incentivizing customers. If you’re not familiar with omni-channel, it is “a cross-channel content strategy used to improve the customer experience and drive better relationships across all possible channels and touchpoints. This includes traditional and digital channels, point-of-sale, and physical and online experiences”. In a restaurant, omni-channel should be embraced to meet your customer where they are, by having several options available to reach them. You may use a third-party vendor that your customers love for takeout, create a loyalty program to reward your regulars, develop a mobile app, and more.
By using omni-channel marketing, your customer can have a cohesive experience no matter what way they access your services. This is a crucial step in evolving in a world where the traditional sit-down restaurant experience is no longer king. It should be noted that when crafting an omni-channel strategy, data about customer experience needs to be at the forefront. We must first understand what customers expect from us in terms of accessing our services, and then go from there.
Once omni-channel is put into place, new and recurring customers must be incentivized through frequent communication and loyalty programs. Ask people for their information at the end of service if they are not already a part of your program, or link it as an option on your website and social media. This is an effective way of keeping people in the loop with new and exciting events occurring and dishes being served. It is also a way to reward those who use your services often and give them more reason to keep coming back and enjoying all the great things you have to offer with coupons and other deals.
As we help our hospitality clients succeed in a post-pandemic world, we gear our services towards three things: Helping them retain employees through visibility of a genuine, team-based culture, optimizing their ability to provide takeout, and rebuilding their digital presence. We now have the unique opportunity to see restaurants strengthen their ability to connect with their customers must like an e-commerce store.
There are so many savvy ways that they can provide services to their customers beyond the traditional dine-in experience. Restaurants as we know them will be looking very different over the next ten years. Take a look at the websites and social media platforms of your favorite restaurants. If they are doing it right, you will see they are doing things a lot differently than they were even a couple of years ago.
By: Paige Tangney
Sammis|Ochoa is San Antonio’s fastest-growing public relations and digital marketing agency. It is the 2020 recipient of the TinyAward for Happiest Employees in Public Relations. It also ranks as one of San Antonio’s best PR firms by Design Rush. The firm is headquartered in San Antonio and serves clients in Austin, Houston and San Antonio. Email email@example.com or call 210.390.4284 to amp up your PR game!