Hospitality businesses: Bouncing Back During the Coronavirus era

Hospitality businesses: Bouncing Back During the Coronavirus era

Last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiled a three-phase plan outlining how Australia will gradually ease its coronavirus restrictions. The first phase includes a maximum of 5 guests per household, and a maximum of 10 people to congregate outdoors. 

As a result of this, some of the states, such as South Australia and Queensland, have chosen to allow restaurants to reopen their doors – but only for outdoor seating, and only 10 patrons at a time. This is a step ahead of previous restrictions that meant businesses were only open for delivery and takeaway services. 

Now, we know what you’re thinking, because we’re thinking it too. 

Are we out of the worst of it? Is the end near? We hope so. 

Not only are the easing of restrictions a positive sign of things to come for business owners who have felt the harsh weather of the COVID-19 storm, the move has also delighted the community of coffee lovers and foodies in SA and Qld – and left other states hopeful for the future. 

With patrons eager to get back to some sense of ‘normality’ and return to their much-loved Saturday morning brunch routine – now is the time for businesses to start considering their future marketing tactics. SA and Qld businesses need to make it clear to patrons that they’re open and ready for business, and the other states should start preparing for when it's their turn. 

A lot of the posts we’ve seen from family and friends on social media is “Where’s open right now?”. Now is the time to get your business in front of people as they start deciding where they’re going to go out to eat first.  

Sure, reactive and defensive measures have helped so far. But with the end in sight, now’s the time to engage your loyal customers and find innovative ways to bring them straight back through your doors. 

Here’s how hospitality businesses can strive to bounce back post-pandemic. 

It’s not all about updating your Insta-feed. Show your website and Google My Business some love.

If the pandemic has affected your opening hours or you’ve even been forced to close – make sure your customers know about it! Take the time to update your Google My Business listing, all local listings, and your website. You’ll want to reveal your new hours, links to take away menus, and what your delivery options are. Typically, your website gets more hits than your Instagram and social pages – let people know exactly what you’re offering as soon as they head to your site. In the time it takes them to try and find the information themselves, they could have already chosen to go elsewhere. 

Looking forward, it’s time to focus on figuring out the kind of measures — no matter how drastic — that will make your customers not only realise that you’re open for dining, but the safety precautions your business is taking to provide them with a safe, hygienic (and delicious) experience. 

Drive a unified search experience, improve your visibility, increase your revenue. 

The present landscape for restaurants and hospitality businesses boils down to one single world: adaptation. While you may have pivoted your operations from dine-in to takeaway and delivery services throughout the period of social distancing, now’s the time to get your brand in front of the eyes of regular – and new future regulars. With everyone still at home eagerly awaiting the moment they’re allowed to experience the normality of heading out to eat, all eyes are on digital, and engagement is up. 

Understanding your brand’s keyword performance is a vital aspect of getting the results you want from your SEO campaign, ultimately resulting in converting your website traffic into paying customers. 

Reward loyalty… with a difference. 

With people safe (not stuck) at home it’s a no-brainer that offering catering, takeaway and home delivery has become part of your strategy. But how do you reward those that have stayed loyal to you throughout the isolation period? 

You need to tailor your offerings to truly connect with your customers. 

Something as simple as throwing in a free dish with a personalised note could be just the gesture your customer needs to remember you and put your restaurant at the top of their ‘out-of-isolation’ to-do-list. Surprising customers by over delivering is a winning *albeit heart-warming* strategy to help you stand out and earn long term loyalty. 

Remain connected. 

Data capture goes way beyond simply capturing names, email addresses and phone numbers.  Be sure to capture valuable information such as details of last order, order size and even food preferences. Use this time to proactively reach out and let people know exactly what’s going on with your business. You’ll also want to implement GDN banners targeting people local to your business - whether you’re opening up your outdoor area or you’re planning to allow 10 diners through your doors, an informed customer is vital to bouncing back during the crisis. 

Informed customers that have been able to follow your journey through personalised emails and updates are going to be the ones lining up – 1.5 metres apart – outside of your doors when the time is right. 

Ramp up your social feed with competitions, rewards & live streams. 

It’s time to - safely - encourage people to come out of isolation, and straight through your doors. Offering vouchers and engaging competitions to your loyal customers puts you one step ahead of your competitors, positioning you at the forefront of their minds for when things eventually start to settle down. 

Sweeten the deal for new and returning diners with offers they simply can’t resist; after all, who’s going to say no to an extra 25% off a meal for simply tagging their friend in an insta-post?

Not us!  

Ultimately, your business is more flexible than you once thought. 

While your restaurant or cafe might not be able to open its doors to as many diners as you’d usually like to, reduced limits could potentially transport restaurant experiences back to what they were once known for – a certain level of exclusivity, and memorable experiences.

Ultimately, it’s time to start marketing the experience – not just the food, the price, or the venue.  

What can you do to accommodate your customers like no one else? Use this time to build stronger relationships. 

The hospitality industry is an industry defined by selling experiences. Coronavirus has stolen from us one of the main things that we need to adapt (and lean on) during times of distress - and that’s each other.

Perhaps your restaurant could be that special place that allows people to start strengthening relationships and connections that they’ve been yearning for this whole time.