Expectations of a post-lockdown hospitality customer

Pent up demand, premiumisation and pet friendly, just some of the topics discussed during the customer-centric webinar hosted by Quantaco

Hospitality is interwoven into the fabric of Australian lives, or it used to be. But with frequent and extended lockdowns shutting venues and locking patrons out, what can we expect from a post-lockdown customer?

In the second of the Quantaco series of webinars, industry leaders continued the conversation to ensure the hospitality industry thrives when lockdown lifts. Scott Barber Quantaco’s Chief Commercial Officer was joined by Jen Russell, Managing Director of W. Short Hospitality; Matt Hunt, Founder and Director of Geronimo and Simon Johnston, Chief Operations Officer of Feros Group.

The conversation covered customer behavioural changes, new and emerging trends, and increased digitisation and data.

Customers are craving for hospitality to reopen

There is no question that as soon as possible, there will be a return to hospitality; with multiple months of missed celebrations, friends and families will be quick to reunite and revisit their favourite venues. However, expect a new version of your old customer, one who is looking for safety assurances but will, in return, be more appreciative of the need for compliance with regulation to ensure venues can remain open. Expect also for some uncertainty;

Matt Hunt believes “customers will be looking for guidance on new rituals; can I shake hands, do I order at the bar, it’s my shout, but I don’t have cash – all will lead to some new uncertainty in behaviour”.

Also, don’t forget the pets , dogs have become such an integrated part of our family there will be an increased demand for pet friendly locations, those venues that cater will reap the furry rewards.

Premiumization and new tastes will be balanced with old favourites

If new habits are formed within 90 days, then multi-month stay-at-home orders will have cemented many a new at-home habit. Cocktail making, cooking, and exploring ingredients are all areas people will have escaped the lockdown blues by trying. So how will these transfer to new trends that hospitality will need to cater for?

The shift to cocktails, spirits and craft beer had already commenced, so it is to be expected that this trend will continue. Growth in more health-conscious items, everything from no alcohol spirits to mocktails to healthy food choices, are also likely to be in demand from those who have used the downtime to embrace a more healthy lifestyle. Hoteliers and restauranteurs should review and refresh menus to meet this expectation, but don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

“Nothing beats a cold beer and a schnitzel, so be prepared to balance new with traditional offerings” suggests Jen Russell.

Localisation forces a rethink on city-centre locations

Working from home is unlikely to fully reverse, which leaves the CBD light on office dwellers. This naturally translates into lower volumes in city-centre pubs for the traditional post-work pint. Conversely, suburban pubs can expect to see an increase in local visitation as people gather locally and for extended periods in one venue.

But all is not lost for CBD spots; the city will become an exciting place to explore. Free from the usual hoards of summer tourists and after being locked away in their local LGA, people will embrace rediscovering their city and its many pubs and restaurants and consider them a destination worth travelling to.

Digitalisation will provide a wealth of data, but it must be worthwhile

Apps and taps have become part of our everyday life from venue check-in, ordering to paying – everything can be done through our mobile. And while that provides for a convenient and safe customer experience, the hidden gold is the collected data.

“It’s about shifting from the unknown to the known so we can deliver a better customer experience”, claims Matt Hunt.

Having insights on your customer not only helps deliver a better in-venue experience but allows for a deeper connection and builds loyalty. Providing unique communication, offers and even pricing with your most loyal patrons is the real benefit of digitisation and provides enough value to avoid data-sharing fatigue that otherwise some patrons may feel.

The future is bright, a little different, but mostly the same.

“What is abundantly clear is that the industry is set to bounce back, pent up demand, excitement to connect with our loved ones, and a desire to have hospitality back in our lives is a positive sign for our industry,” said Scott Barber.

New behaviours, trends and data-driven opportunities will exist, but a good schooner served with a smile is hard to beat!

To watch the webinar in full click here