Driving digital to enhance the experience
With the leisure and hospitality industry hit hard by the COVID pandemic, it has been a difficult couple of years for businesses. In addition to lockdowns and other restrictions, many consumer-centric companies have also faced serious supply chain challenges. So how does the future look and what can your business do to adapt to the ‘new normal’?
In March 2020, we were plunged into the first wave of COVID cases and, with them, changing rules and guidelines. From the initial lockdown, leisure and hospitality businesses were the first to bear the brunt of the restrictions. With doors forced to stay closed, it highlighted and exposed many risks and vulnerabilities in the industry as a whole. It wasn’t just full lockdowns that created issues either. Even as the harshest restrictions lifted, social distancing, the requirement to re-stock entire kitchens, staffing issues and the implementation of new health and safety measures created new pressures on an industry that had already been crippled.
While the global pandemic was one thing, another challenge was unravelling simultaneously: Brexit. Further compounding staffing issues, while also adding to an already problematic supply chain.
Taking control with tech
While, unfortunately, the leisure and hospitality industry faced severe challenges over the course of the pandemic, the changes also sparked a new wave of competitiveness and forward-thinking.
Where some manufacturers started to sell direct to consumers in an attempt to rescue flailing margins, many leisure and hospitality businesses had to adjust too. Finding creative ways to deliver and enhance the customer experience, while compensating for potential future restrictions and continuing supply chain problems.
As ‘safeguarding’ has become a keyword for these companies, strategies have started to shift more towards tech innovation, as businesses work to ensure they don’t fall foul again. By focusing on more digital aspects of what are traditionally ‘physical’ services, the industry has been able to harness technology to create a more secure business model. Thereby improving margins, providing value to customers and delivering new, more exciting (and COVID-safe) guest experiences.
Delivering a better experience
One of the most common ways that hospitality businesses have transitioned to survive the pandemic is through home delivery services. Where manufacturers have taken on Amazon experts in-house to help drive direct sales, many restaurants and cafes who previously focused solely on dining-in started to sign up to platforms such as Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats to enable some continuation of service.
Some companies have taken this a step further, hiring tech specialists to develop bespoke ordering and delivery platforms – or even buoying margins by selling produce, cooking courses, exercise classes and more by building in digital experiences where they can’t provide their usual offerings in-person. Something that can continue to provide an additional revenue stream regardless of what restrictions may or may not be in place.
Future-proofing against unforeseen changes and keeping up with consumer needs has never been a bigger focus. To maximise the potential that a more digitally-led approach can offer, understanding these needs and meeting them may require a re-think in regards to the roles you hire for in the future.
We have supported a client in achieving a more futureproofed approach by placing senior level tech-savvy talent. Digital kiosks now used across their entertainment facilities were quickly implemented in response to fluctuating restrictions enabling a safer way to keep life moving as normal, removing personal interactions prevented by social distancing. This also created significant cost-savings to help nurture healthier margins by replacing salaried staff.
While personal contact has diminished during the pandemic a greater sense of community has prevailed. Businesses have had to re-evaluate their place within their communities, adapting to retain their audience and adjusting to meet a different type of demand. By honing in on more local resources, mitigating obstacles presented by overseas suppliers and creating a more resilient, localised network they enable continuation of service.
Senior hiring for a new era
From identifying consumer needs to contingency planning for pandemics and political unrest, everything from your supply chain to service delivery requires deeper insight and analysis than ever before.
With this in mind, one of the first additions to your team is someone who can collate high-level past and present data to be able to identify trends and make educated forecasts to minimise future problems, and form stable supply chain links that are sustainable. Having access to this predictive data will help you to react quickly and navigate continuing supply chain problems .
With a shifting focus towards digitisation, most B2C businesses are re-assessing their need for a physical presence on the high street, repositioning as online-only services to remove the overheads that come with maintaining premises.
For those leisure and hospitality businesses who still rely on physical footfall, digitisation will focus more on reaching consumers via social media and online promotions, to encourage visitors to engage with local businesses and access offers or new types of customer experiences. This means hiring senior talent who can successfully oversee the transition into a digital era is essential, introducing physical technologies and bringing more services online.
At Ernest Hunter Green, we have already seen some significant changes in the types of senior hires that our clients in the leisure and hospitality industry are looking for that echo this shift to a ‘new normal’. One prime example is the new and emerging role of Digital / Marketing Performance Director. A role that has grown in popularity over the past couple of years, while other roles at a less senior level include PPC experts and programmers.
Leisure and hospitality businesses that create cohesive strategies spanning digital, localisation, supply chain improvements and sustainability will future-proof themselves. With our expertise and insight, we can help you recruit the best senior talent.