How to balance safety and experience in hospitality


How to balance safety and experience in hospitality

How to balance safety and experience in hospitality

Following the Government's announcement that gatherings of more than six people are legally banned from 14th September, and due to the rising Covid-19 case numbers across Europe and the UK, safety is yet again at the forefront of consumers minds.

Whilst the Eat Out to Help Out discount scheme was incredibly successful in tempting customers out to dine, it's important now to keep that momentum going by consistently meeting and exceeding customer expectations.

There are two key aspects to what customers want in a visit in the post-lockdown world; whether to a restaurant, pub, hotel or other - they want to feel safe, and paradoxically, guests also want to forget for a moment that they're in the middle of a pandemic - to go out, perhaps see friends or family, to feel normal again. So how do operators achieve this delicate balance?

Get the safety basics right, and then the rest

Based on gathering insights from both operators and guests, we've found that the trick is to get the safety basics right first, that is the priority. It's vital to note that safety is not more important than the experience itself - after all, it's the expectation of excellent service, delectable meal or beverage that entices a customer out in the first place. Imagine that the 'safety factor' is more like a must-have feature - once that box is ticked, all the normal expectations to a visit apply, but without it - no deal.

Guests want to see evidence of them being kept safe throughout their journey, starting from socially-distanced queues when first entering the venue and diligent cleaning between parties, to appropriate staff PPE. By ticking all the boxes of the consumer's internal safety standards, the guest will feel confident enough to lower their guard, and it is then (and only then) that the customer is ready to enjoy all the lovely aspects of a visit, such as amazing food and drink, bubbly service and relaxing atmosphere that they came out to experience.

Although customer internal safety standards vary from person to person, some more lenient than others, in order to help operators review whether their existing procedures are robust enough, we've compiled a handy checklist of basic safety features that cover the most common requirements:

  • Face masks - It's advisable for face masks or face coverings to be worn by waiters, bartenders and other staff members at hospitality venues. Our research revealed that 75% of guest would prefer to see staff wearing face coverings.
  • Chair frames - HGEM observation: We've seen lots of diligent cleaning of the parts where people sit, but not where they tend to put their fingers!
  • Recording visitor details - The Government has announced this will be compulsory for hospitality venues, and has so far been voluntary. Gather contact details from guests and keep on file for up to 21 days. This is to help the government to trace all diners who may have been present during a suspected outbreak. It's important to be careful with any personal data in a post-GDPR world; guests want to be reassured their information will be kept safe and that processes are in place for automatic deletion after 21 days.

HGEM offer a Track and Trace system based on QR codes, no pen and paper required. Click here for more information

  • One-way systems - Ensuring the flow of traffic is only going one way inside a venue stops people from crossing paths and helps them to keep their distance. This is especially effective at bars, which historically are crowded with people waiting to order their drinks.
  • Queuing systems - Require guests to queue outside, keeping a 1 metre distance between customers.
  • Hand sanitiser stations - Display hand sanitiser stations at the entrance of the venue and at various staff stations. It may be a good idea to have a sanitiser available on all tables, if applicable.
  • Apps - To limit the amount of people who touch menus or go up to the bar to order food and drink, many restaurants and pubs are now using QR code menus or apps to help people order remotely. We've seen customers more open to technological innovation than ever before, so now may be a good time to explore new, digital avenues.

HGEM is helping a number of clients in the hospitality industry to rebuild safely, by measuring and translating guest experience data into actionable insights that help grow sales. If you're looking for a helping hand to support your business in managing guest experiences, do get it touch: In recognition of the pandemic, we're offering our services for free as part of a 1-month, no-commitment trial.

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