Businesses are unsure and need more clarity on the easing of Covid lockdown restrictions. With the hospitality industry set to be back up and running from April, people in the industry are worried about how the industry might be affected post-lockdown.
With the industry being hit hard, we hear from six individuals in the industry on their views on the future of the hospitality industry.
Our Expert Panel:
- Timo Boldt – CEO at Gousto
- Lukas Kinigadner – CEO at Anyline
- Callum McPherson – Founder of Occupyd
- Guy Robinson – Founder and CEO of Car Park Party
- Christopher Banks – Managing Director of Cracker Drinks
- Cherry Wang – Country Manager UK & Ireland at Homelike
For any questions, comments or features, please contact us directly.
Timo Boldt – CEO at Gousto
“It’s no secret that the pandemic has had a devastating impact on the hospitality industry in Britain. Our research tells us that 90% of independent restaurants have risked closure at some point since the start of the pandemic. The closure of a single restaurant not only represents a loss of livelihoods but also a loss of the incredible diversity, vibrancy and creativity of the UK’s food culture.
The Prime Minister’s announcement this week was an exciting step in paving the way for the country to re-open, and many businesses will have received the roadmap with open arms.
With the end of the pandemic in sight, we’re encouraging the Government to do all it can to clear the way for independent restaurants to rebound.
Given the right support, these small businesses will have the opportunity to innovate, helping to drive greater productivity as we head out of the pandemic.
In the upcoming Budget, we call on the Chancellor to include these initiatives that restaurants desperately need;
A continuation of the business rates holiday for the hospitality industry (due to end in April)
A moratorium on banks foreclosing on landlords
In Gousto’s recent Cookstarter campaign, we pledged our support for the industry and asked the public to nominate their favourite independent restaurants to receive a large cash grant and a year-long business mentorship programme.
With a holistic support package, we aim to provide the tools that independent restaurants need to not only stabilise but to thrive and grow, helping to keep the UK’s unique food scene alive.
We received over 15,000 nominations over the week-long campaign period. Though we couldn’t support every restaurant, the scale of the nominations we received illustrates how important this topic is.
Gousto will continue to champion food variety in the UK and urges the Government to do everything it can to reduce further hospitality casualties.”
Lukas Kinigadner – CEO at Anyline
“For the hospitality industry, one of the most difficult parts of dealing with COVID-19 has been dealing with the see-sawing between opening and closing. It’s exceptionally difficult – not to mention expensive – to order stock, prepare furloughed staff and put protective measures in place for everyone’s safety.
To reduce this risk, hotels are increasingly turning to ‘touchless’ services which enable quests to complete their check-in and receive their room key right on their own smartphone by scanning their ID with their phone camera, avoiding the need for a front desk.”
Callum McPherson – Founder of Occupyd
“The hospitality sector has been massively disrupted by the pandemic and unpredictable restrictions. Whilst many businesses have sadly folded, others have been successful in adapting. Decision-makers have been hit with unprecedented daily conundrums; and those that didn’t offer delivery because they thought it ‘cheapened’ their brand, have had to go down this road eventually to survive. In doing so, businesses have found a whole new market and revenue stream which they are unlikely to look back from. This will continue to be key to the industry’s survival as we approach recovery and beyond.
Businesses have also had to re-think their real estate footprint; do they even need a restaurant at all or would a dark kitchen suffice? If they do have a premise, do they use it to its maximum potential? Could they hire out the space when they are not using it and generate more revenue that way? By taking advantage of the closures to evaluate their business has allowed many to spot these opportunities. How do you get into a new area while keeping cap-ex investment low? Renting a kitchen flexibly in another part of town is one way.”
Guy Robinson – Founder and CEO of Car Park Party
“There’s clearly pent up demand for the hospitality sector, venues are reporting huge interest in ticket availability from June 21st, especially that first weekend, and we’re seeing many incoming enquiries for all of our talent. I believe caution needs to be shown though, there are many hurdles to overcome before that ambitious goal can be achieved. One of the hardest decisions to make is when to return staff from furlough. We have to be ready for venues, festivals and events to reopen, and having our teams back is crucial for that to be possible. But if the opening dates do get pushed back, that delay in income, married to the financial commitment in restarting businesses could be terminal for many, especially given how unstable many companies are in the sector right now.”
Christopher Banks – Managing Director of Cracker Drinks
“The hospitality industry has had a torrid 12 months but, as the saying goes, ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’, and consumer demand is likely to explode in the coming months. This will make hospitality venues and companies that supply the hospitality industry an attractive proposition. These supplier companies are now like a coiled spring, ready and waiting to be released to make the most of the opportunities that await.
We have seen this in the FTSE 100, with the share price of organisations in the leisure, travel and hospitality industry already starting to show signs of recovery. This has been helped by strong indications from the government that they will support the sector as it finds its feet again after a turbulent year. All of this will not only help the end operator, but in turn, the associated companies that supply into the sector.
Start-ups and scale-ups can provide a good investment opportunity in this sector. Those businesses that have weathered the Covid storm – and are still here – will be well-placed to learn from their experiences. These are the companies that are probably rather better placed than many to take full advantage of the bounce back, with established routes to market in place and production facilities already accredited and approved by the leading players.
Whilst takeaways and home baking have helped to fill time during lockdown, the pent-up demand for great food and drink, a great atmosphere and great hospitality is there for all to enjoy.
Cherry Wang – Country Manager UK & Ireland at Homelike
“When the restrictions finally ease we expect that while business travel will bounce back it will lag behind leisure travel. While people cannot wait to get away on a holiday, our B2B clientele are telling us that business projects and relocations are being postponed until later in the year, meaning a slow return to normality for our sector.
In terms of the customer, what is most notable is the high expectations of those travelling. Customers are looking for a combination of great value prices and quality amenities with exceptional hospitality and a good degree of flexibility. We’re seeing that suppliers with competitive pricing and flexible cancellation policies are twice as likely to receive bookings than those who do not offer this. It may be tempting for businesses to increase their prices to make up for the losses of 2020 and early 2021 but this is a risky strategy.
Patience for businesses is also going to be key this year, as it was in 2020. Booking lead times have dropped dramatically (40%) following Covid. Most bookings come in with an average of just 23 days lead time compared to roughly 32 in previous years. However, once travellers do book we’ve seen an increase of 10% on length of stay (compared to 2019) as people make the most of being able to get away to a new location.
In terms of popular locations, as a B2B business, we are expecting a major bounce back for the metropolitan cities such as London, Manchester and Edinburgh come June or July time, as offices begin to open up again and people return to work. Meanwhile the secondary cities will also experience a boost thanks to ‘digital nomads’ and travellers who have the flexibility to work remotely.”