The past year has brought many unforeseen challenges to the hospitality sector. Hotel and restaurant operators have employed creative solutions to remain profitable despite dining area restrictions and changes to how food is prepared.
Some of those changes are most likely here to stay. These are a few new trends that are expected to last well into the upcoming year.
To maintain proper social distancing during the pandemic, even smaller bistros have been requiring dining reservations. This trend may continue because it ensures a specific seating arrangement and a full house at different times of the day/night.
Reservations also allow restaurants to better predict how busy different shifts will be and schedule their waitstaff and kitchen staff accordingly. In the best cases, the result is a streamlined service model with more satisfied customers and increased business.
A lot of restaurants were already offering contactless payment options prior to 2020, but now nearly every restaurant, including those located inside hotels, have embraced this.
Consumers can use apps to order well in advance and pay in advance, even if they do plan to eat in the restaurant. QR codes inside restaurant apps that are linked to a credit or debit card allow hotel guests to scan at payout so that cards, customers and waitstaff do not have to touch anything someone else has touched. This is likely to continue because it makes purchases quick and easy. An added benefit is that fewer errors are made.
Many eat-in restaurants chains have switched up how they do things and updated their menus, making packaged to go and pickup orders standard.
Of course, this implies the need for a wide variety of containers. Everything from custom cocktail packages to mini buffet feasts are wrapped up to go when ordered online. Buying liquor to go is somewhat new, but all these options may remain in place as more people enjoy eating and drinking at home.
Outdoor dining experiences
It is commonly believed that the virus is not quite as problematic outdoors as it is in an enclosed space. In fact, recent reports state that almost all documented coronavirus transmissions have occurred indoors.
As such, many restaurants have created outdoor patio dining spaces. When weather turns foul, some restaurants enclose tables in greenhouses or plastic clear tents, both of which can easily be aired out and sanitized. These personalized eating spaces have become wildly popular with consumers, making many restaurants look at all available alternatives for creating this experience for diners.
The same holds true for hotel guests. Many hotels offer patio seating now, while others open all their floor to ceiling windows to increase air circulation throughout indoor dining spaces.
Streamlined menus and preparation
Many chefs are revisiting their menus and limiting their offerings to save on staffing and prep time. This will have an impact moving forward, as restaurants may choose to only serve their most popular meals, or those that are most suited for takeout.
The bottom line is that until the pandemic is officially over, competitive menus and contactless room service will remain the norm in hotels around the world.