The impact of the coronavirus outbreak has been swift & brutal across the world.
In the middle east region, the government has taken the necessary precautionary measures to protect the lives of citizens and residents and to prevent the spread of the pandemic. This has led to the suspension or reduction of many local economic activities, which had a negative impact on non-oil revenue and economic growth.
With its rapid escalation, it has begun to decimate the restaurant industry as an increasing number of states and regions enforce population lockdowns and close eateries, gyms and other “nonessential” businesses.
While the markets have been allowed to open partially, there are new government regulations imposed by the UAE Government to operate in the post-lockdown era.
New Government Regulations (UAE)
The government laid regulations insist on the opening of restaurants in a phased manner, with the following practices:
- Restaurants should register in the food watch portal to ensure compliance with the newly laid regulations.
- Restaurants to utilise the dining space with a maximum of 30% capacity.
- Continuous sanitisation and consistent cleaning of premises are mandatory.
- Restrictions discouraging children under the age of 12 and old people from dining out should be in place.
- Usage of disposable cutleries and crockery for diners, and masks and gloves for staff.
Contactless Dining | The Way Ahead for the Restaurant Industry
As COVID-19 impacts all sections of life and people have been introduced to the new social distancing practice. Dineout, India’s largest restaurant tech platform recently introduced the country’s first end-to-end ‘contactless dining suite’ for its partner restaurants to put in place the right seamless plug-and-play technology and sanitation requirements to support limited-contact dining for the foreseeable future.
The brand’s inresto Contactless Dining suite covers the entire dining experience from
• Pre-ordering – To cut the wait times at the restaurants, diners will now opt for pre-ordering to ensure that the food is ready by the time they reach.
• Contactless Valet – To cut the wait time down at the restaurant lobby. Diners will have their vehicles to be brought in just as they complete payments. Digital valet will cut short the time spent at community areas to curb the spread of infections.
• Contactless Seating – To make reservations online and facilitate digital table allotment. Reservations and waitlist management software will ensure that restaurants aren’t reserving more than what the social distancing norms will dictate. For example: Having a 2m distance between tables.
• Contactless Menu – inresto`s ‘Dine-In’ digital menu solution will use Data Analytics and AI to offer dynamic pricing and customized offers at partner restaurants besides offering diners the options to place an order without handling physical menu cards
• Contactless payments – To ease the payment process for both the consumer and the restaurant. Digital payments via e-wallets will avoid the exchange of cash and cards, thereby forcing social distancing.
• Feedback – Online feedback systems will collect real-time feedback on the dining experience
The goal behind this movement is to enable restaurants to reopen their businesses soon while making restaurants a safe harbour for diners. The role of tech in this post-COVID-19 era is to establish trust and build confidence in the minds of consumers. The new inresto Contactless Dining Suite would help the F&B industry adjust to the new normal in a conducive environment.
It’s time to grab the opportunity and let your diners experience exceptional dining and create new memories with a side of confidence and trust.
Contact us to make your restaurant a safe harbour for diners.
As the world reels from the coronavirus pandemic, restaurants are among one of the most affected industries, considering the need for social distancing and scarcity of resources. Sahil Jain, Cofounder of Dineout recently conducted an informative session with Rachel Goenka, Founder and CEO, The Chocolate Spoon Company. During this session, she talked about the current plight of restaurants, various business strategies, and the prospects owing to COVID-19. Here are the highlights of the conversation.
1. Prioritize Safety Above All
Brand loyalty and trust, post lockdown, will come from showcasing better service quality and brand value. People will slowly feel more comfortable about stepping out post lockdown, if restaurants assure them of all the steps taken to ensure diners’ safety and hygiene within the restaurant. Communicate the importance of proper sanitation and hygiene, routine temperature checks, and sanitisers made available for customers as well as staff.
Further, higher dependency on technology for communication, menu management, and posting awareness-centric content on social media platforms to educate diners’ on safety can prove to be a great method to restore the lost trust and retain brand loyalty.
Focus on Survival
Restaurants will run on a 50% capacity, while waiting for government directives. Self-policing by restaurants while waiting for direction from the government needs to become more stringent for the sake of both, employees as well as customers. New industry entrants must stay strong, as the market is sure to bounce back. Cut costs wherever possible, and shift from high-end imported ingredients (unavailable) to local materials.
Going local and curating menus out of locally available ingredients and items make sales more profitable and enables better safety measures. The future foregrounds practices such as cloud-kitchens, home delivery, and takeaways. Further, prioritising microwave-safe packaging due to higher safety (cold items sanitized from outside, hot items can be put in the microwave directly) can be one of the best practices to adopt as it can instil better trust from diners in restaurants.
Introduce Seamless Technology
Technology has proved beneficial for many industries worldwide. There are various touchpoints in a restaurant business where technology can work along with the staff and create a tectonic shift. Diner sentiments across social media platforms points at pre-order and table reservation being crucial. They no longer want to touch foreign objects and are willing to opt for digital menu as well as digital payment methods. DineIn by Dineout, will let diners place orders directly from their phones using a QR code.. Similarly, digital payments like DOPay will remove the need for diners to exchange physical currency. Table management will be crucial to maintain physical distancing. Dineout’s Reserve will simplify and automate this process with least human intervention. For such solutions and more, click here
Redesign your Menu and Offerings
Provision of special menu options to your target audience, based on customer feedback will ensure better walk-ins post lockdown. For instance, the Chocolate Spoon Company had created a special Parsi menu during the Parsi New Year at Nariman Point, which was a raging success.
Such novelty and inventive attitudes of restaurant chains will always attract customers. For instance, Rachel’s brand created an innovative menu based on gravy chocolate to entice audiences that were looking for chic cake options.
Additionally, introduction of cost-effective recipes that use minimal inventory to make delightful products to retain customer’s curiosity can aid in minimization of expenditure. This also creates more space to experiment and launch seasonal menus. Re-engineering the menu to provide more comfort food (made from available raw materials) can aid in better sales, especially for fine dine restaurants. With supply chains disrupted, there is a dearth for imported goods. In addition, customers are also opting for easy-to-prepare options such as burgers instead of heavy meals.
Adopt Changes to Retain Customer-base
Diners must trust and connect with your brand if you wish to retain their loyalty. Their feedback and your responses are integral to such retention and ensuring restaurant sales.
Further, dining out in local restaurants will be a priority, from a diner’s perspective, post COVID-19 lockdown. Customizing your restaurant in accordance with your brand will ensure brand loyalty.
Aside from this, employees must be empowered and trusted by managers and owners. Restaurant staff should be able to take daily managerial decisions without prior approvals. Creating consumer/employee awareness can also facilitate retention of brand value in these market conditions. Such awareness can be created through different marketing strategies such as informative videos on cooking and packaging processes, videos conveying hygiene measures taken by restaurants, efforts of delivery executives to ensure uncontaminated food delivery (by proper hand sanitization, double bagging each food order, etc.).
A brand must utilize its diner-base for survival as a whole business family. As Rachel assertively mentions, ‘If you have that brand equity and a loyal customer-base, make the most of it right now!’
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, worldwide lockdown has adversely affected restaurant industry stakeholders: restaurateurs, suppliers, vendors and other relevant employees. On Dineout’s latest Facebook Live, panelists Mr. Ashwin Bhadri [CEO, Equinox labs | National Resource (FSSAI)], Mr. Prashant Khurdiya (Business Head, METRO Cash & Carry), Mr. Sharad Sachdeva [Director of Operations, L Catterton Asia (LVMH Group)], Ms. Pushpa Bector (Executive Director, Shopping Malls, DLF) and Mr. Ashish Dev Kapur (Founder & Director, Moods Hospitality Pvt. Ltd.) participated in an in-depth discussion with Mr. Vivek Kapoor, (Co-founder, Dineout) on the crucial measures that need to be taken to revive restaurant businesses.
Here are the key takeaways from the session on how to revive the restaurant industry post Covid-19.
The Government needs to urgently assess the economic repercussions on the restaurant industry. Statutory payments such GST, advance tax, duties and VAT at state levels should be deferred. Government can give moratorium on bank loan payments so cash flow can be used to pay off the suppliers and workforce. Restaurant delegations will soon receive COVID 19 online training by FSSAI. Plus, multiple license applications will go online. This will help make the system more seamless
Diner Trust Retention
Utmost hygiene will be the primary differentiating factor for diners determining the reliability of restaurants post lockdown. Ashish, Founder & Director, Moods Hospitality Pvt. Ltd, notes a seismic shift towards staff and restaurant hygiene. Contactless dining has created a lot of buzz and (e.g. contactless/digital menus and payments) must be adopted at multiple touch points. All stakeholders must ensure compliance with social distancing norms. Diners must be assured that in-house employees and staff are germ free and the daily produce is safe as they are rethinking their dine-out preferences.
Staff members should be retrained with updated sanitisation modules and bright up to speed with new norms. Government officials will be conducting regular hygiene training and motivational programs for staff on official platforms. Many restaurants have already proactively done the same. There is no doubt that customer service and hospitality will reach newer heights. Employees and staff must ensure that diners maintain hygiene regulations. Additionally, efficient restaurant management tie-ups with aggregators to serve last mile diners will be essential.
Contactless feedback via digital feedback forms or social media will gain transaction and facilitate retention of customer loyalty. There is an urgent necessity to maximize app-based communication and utilize the boom of takeaways Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter are witnessing high engagement from diners. It is essential to tap into this and listen to the diners closely. Restaurants can use these platforms to directly connect with the diners and understand their sentiments and needs.
The introduction of Aarogya Setu app will help in tracking whether visiting diners are healthy. Seating arrangement and people within a certain square feet area will be limited. Individual and community responsibility, wherein diners should pre-plan and make prior reservations before visits, so that restaurants can control and prevent overcrowding. (1 person for every 70 square meters).Technology will reduce hygiene and safety problems while personalizing customer engagement.
Collaborative Effort By Multiple Stakeholders
Super sanitized service is imperative. Stakeholders like malls and restaurants must work together to comply with social distancing, safety, and hygiene-related instructions. Restaurants should regularly train their employees on hygiene modules.
Novel Business Prospects
New business models like takeaways and delivery will grow. Restaurant menus will become smaller, localized (in terms of locally available ingredients), and cost-efficient. Working with available “glocal” produce is the need of the hour. To garner diners’ attention and delight, the “playbook” must change: make social distancing more romantic and endearing. In the revival phase, having strong long-term business vision is imperative. Restaurants must resurrect with celebrations to rekindle diners’ attention. Salience of big brands will aid sustainability.
Restaurant Industry 2.0
Future mergers and acquisitions are expected, as many portfolio companies are facing closure. Mall/restaurant operation times will be limited. Newer dynamics and opportunities will be assessed. The main goal? Standing by the hospitality industry. Retaining and utilizing social capital, showing empathy, and understanding and leveraging social media is vital.
In conclusion, despite heavy losses, Diners won’t be looking for discounts. Instead, ensuring hygiene and increasing customer interest will be essential in restarting the restaurant industry.
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