Round-up: What was the story of 2019 in the hospitality industry?


Round-up: What was the story of 2019 in the hospitality industry?

Round-up: What was the story of 2019 in the hospitality industry?

Before we look ahead to next year, it’s important to reflect on the 12 months just gone. In the hospitality industry, we’re blessed in that it’s never quiet – there’s always something going on, whether that’s changing consumer tastes or wholesale shifts in how service is delivered.

While hospitality’s continual evolution helps keep things interesting, it also presents more issues that the industry must overcome. In 2019, businesses have had to integrate new third parties into their business models and not see their service offerings suffer for it.

Here’s our look back at 2019:

1. Guest data alignment

In this age of data deluge, the key is to get everything in one place. Only then can you begin to make sense of it and extract insights. This was the year when we really started to see hospitality businesses getting to grips with this.

More businesses than ever now have a multi-channelled approach to tracking measures of the guest experience, recognising the different contribution that reviews, surveys, assessments and other sources can play in building up a balanced picture of performance against which to make decisions and take actions.

2. Mystery guest 2.0

In the last few years, it’s become much easier to secure subjective opinions from guests in some volume, as it’s become the norm for people to leave reviews online. This has meant a gradual evolution of the purpose of a mystery guest assessment.

2019 was the year when we saw this finally come of age, with most operators now using the assessment as a targeted tool not for capturing opinions but for objective evaluation of how effectively teams are delivering what they have been trained to do, in terms of brand standards, processes, behaviours and exploiting sales opportunities.

The clearer distinction between the different sources is also making it easy to define where one has an impact on the other.

3. Delivery company scrutiny

Food delivery company Deliveroo has continued its expansion into new towns and cities in 2019, fuelled by consumers’ appetites to have food from their favourite restaurants biked to their door.

With Deliveroo rivals Uber Eats and Just Eat seeing a similar uptick in demand, it goes without saying that there will be a further expansion of these services, especially if the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) approves Amazon’s £450m investment into Deliveroo.

However, the concept of ‘meals on wheels’ is still far from perfect. Consumers are complaining of food arriving cold and soggy – perhaps not surprising if it’s endured a two-mile bike ride to get there.

This has prompted food businesses to carry out assessments of third party deliveries – a practice we’ve seen grow significantly in 2019.

4. Dish-by-dish evaluation

One of the most high-profile closures in 2019 was the Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group – which comprised 23 Jamie’s Italian venues and London’s Fifteen and Barbecoa. It went into administration despite Oliver ploughing in £13m and a £37m bank loan.

To increase their chances of survival, businesses are going more granular on the performance of their individual dishes. In 2019, we’ve seen significant growth in operators measuring different aspects of dish performance, beyond just overall satisfaction or value-for-money. It’s now about the marginal gains on things like taste, portion size and presentation that, when placed together, can yield a significant competitive advantage.

5. Supplier integration

Finally, businesses are putting more pressure on suppliers to partner with one another to increase the value they can offer their mutual clients. This was the year that we really saw suppliers picking up the baton and enthusiastically exploring creative ways to add more value to clients collectively than they could ever do separately.

It’s all part of the transition towards a more joined-up approach, which in some ways has been the story of 2019. It provides a good foundation going into 2020, which looks set to be more competitive than ever.

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