Voices of Hospitality

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Voices of Hospitality

Voices of Hospitality

Darren Cavill, Operations Director at Select Contracts in New Zealand, has over 35 years experience developing and implementing first class management strategies and strategic operations projects for prestigious organisations in the food & beverage and leisure sectors.

HGEM reached out to Darren to gain his perspective on the unique opportunities and challenges that 2021 will bring for the hospitality industry.

What do you think 2021 is going to be like for hospitality? What are the opportunities?

If I had to answer with one sentence it would be “2021 will be both challenging and exciting”. Here in NZ we are a little ahead of the curve and have seen businesses re-open. The biggest mistake that most businesses have made is to believe they could simply re-open post lockdown in the same model they were using pre-lockdown. You then add to this that many have tried to recoup some losses by reducing team costs and increasing margins and you have a potential guest expectations issue!

I believe that consumers in the UK will be looking for exceptional (not just average or pre-lockdown levels) value for money. They will be looking for the full package in terms of service and value. They have become more aware of the real cost of products; they have spent time learning to cook again and are making cocktails indoors. They have learnt that they can give themselves a great experience for less than they need to spend out of home.

Of course they will want to get back to hospitality venues, but I believe more than ever they will want the full experience. If we have planned to reduce our team numbers then maybe we need to think again, or if we have to reduce team numbers, have we really invested in the team we still have? Is that team fully trained on all our products? Do they have the knowledge and time to wow the guests? Have we explained/shared fully what we are trying to achieve in terms of post-lockdown goals, both quality and quantity? Have we set targets (both quality and financial) not only for ourselves but for the team? Are there incentives in place for the team to achieve and beat those targets?

Have no doubt that those operations that were not doing the above pre-lockdown and fail to take action to rectify this post-lockdown will fail. The customers today are not going to accept anything less.

What kind of foundation can companies start laying now, ready for when the country starts opening up again, to maximise the opportunities?

There are a number of buzzwords that I would use to highlight this. Things such as: leadership, empathy, emotional intelligence, to name just three.

We need to ensure that we have the RIGHT team to deliver. Do they have the right attitude? Have we supported them to achieving our goals? Do they feel safe and secure, not only from a virus perspective but also from a job security perspective? Are we communicating with them in terms of goals and objectives and what their role is in achieving them? Have we asked them how we can improve things for them and the guests? Do we have the right leadership in place? By this I mean: do our managers/supervisors have the right levels of empathy and emotional intelligence to build, lead and motivate our teams to excellence? If we feel they don’t, then now is the time to either develop those skills or bring in leaders with those skills.

There are some practical measures we should also be taking, no matter which sector of hospitality we are in:

  1. Supply Partners. Whatever the products we are selling: food, drink, movies, holidays etc. our supply partners have their own goals. Have we spent real time explaining to them what we are looking to achieve? Are there products we need to re-think, for example, in the F&B sector, are there products we currently have on menus that are now difficult to supply or have risen in price, and so have become something we need to replace? Have we looked at our menus and made sure we have all those little upsell items on there so that our teams can talk to our guests about them?
  2. Upselling. One thing I have experienced here in NZ is the lack of any selling post-lockdown. Some of this is down to lack of training and cutting of team members but guests will see upselling as great advice and knowledge, they will want to be given great ideas on that dessert or coffee, all extras, and if done correctly, all part of a great experience.
  3. Marketing - is a must, but be subtle with it. Use the most cost-effective measures available to you, but be clear with what you are offering, don’t go over the top!

What are the key innovations you see happening this year?

In short I do not believe there will be a big increase in “innovations”. Of course we need to get clever around hygiene and safety measures and to make sure the team and guests are safe and secure, but other than use of any new online marketing or home-delivery-type-of-product, I feel this should be a year when we go back to basics. I also feel many companies will not have the funds to look at new innovations and teams will have enough to deal with.

    How important do you think digital transformation is for hospitality and what have you implemented or are planning to implement in the near future?

    I do believe that Guests will be looking for a more interactive experience in the future. They will want to know more about what they are paying for. Where is the food they are eating from? Can they order their meal before they even leave home and make changes to the dish - more chillies, etc. so the meal is waiting for them on arrival? Can they book the seat beforehand, the one they want not just a table for two? However, in reality I am not an expert in this area so would love to hear more about what is going on in this area!

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