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A Recipe For Hospitality Reopening Success: Breaking Old Rules And Trying New Tech

Feedback From The Field | Industry Trends | By | 24 Jun 2020 | 3 minute read

Dan Joyce, General Manager EMEA of SafetyCulture, explains how upending a longstanding cornerstone of hospitality can help the industry get safely back to business.

After existing in limbo for the last few months, businesses finally have a roadmap to reopening. In just seven weeks, the hospitality industry will be able to throw open their doors and welcome back customers. But business as usual will not be an option — unlike lockdowns, risk doesn’t have an expiry date. New research has revealed that making pubs and bars COVID-safe is very difficult to do effectively. As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues across the UK, it’s evident that those in hospitality need to keep safety their number one priority.

Doing so involves upending a longstanding cornerstone of hospitality —  in this new world, the customer is not always right. 

One of the biggest challenges for businesses right now is the steep rise in complacency, from both customers and weary staff. Customer reluctance to comply with pandemic protocols like mask-wearing and social distancing compound the difficulties businesses already face with a series of constantly evolving government guidelines. 

As your eyes and ears on the ground, staff members are best placed to implement such safety practices. But it also increases their exposure to potentially negative interactions and high-pressure situations with customers. 

Building positive customer rapport is a new ballgame. Now is the time to consider what new training your staff need to do their best work. As guidelines continue to shift, retraining staff will become a key part of business. Microlearning platforms will allow you to engage and empower your workforce from a distance. 

Empowering staff members with easy-to-use technology can go a long way towards improving the experiences of both employees and customers. The right tools can act as a buffer and a boon for employees —  making sure every detail and element of risk is accounted for in business operations while easing daily stressors and empowering them to speak up.  

Use your venue as a mouthpiece for safety

Make your venue work hard for you on the safety front so your staff isn’t the only mouthpiece for compliance. Reduce opportunities for negative interactions by using the space to your advantage, adding physical enhancements that make it easy for patrons to do the right thing.  

Details like real-time safety checks displayed on-screen, great signage, professional safety messages broadcast over AV systems, sanitiser stations, and easily navigable layouts allow your entire venue to become a safety signal. This frees up staff to focus on elevating the consumer experience in other ways — rather than their first interaction with customers being purely instructive.

Fight process fatigue by making processes frictionless 

Fight process fatigue by making ways of working simple when it comes to COVID-safe protocols. This means eliminating unnecessary red tape and breaking down information into manageable chunks that people can act on. Simple checklists, repeated often, can be the most effective method for keeping on top of evolving compliance measures.

Empowering staff members with easy-to-use technology can go a long way towards improving their effectiveness in carrying out safety protocols. By equipping them with the tools and autonomy to drive in-store initiatives forward, we can help make COVID-safe practices easier to follow and maintain. Platforms such as iAuditor can help staff perform checks, report issues, and collect on-the-ground data in minutes. For a business, having this technology in place can mean the difference between being at-risk or at the ready. For staff members,  it’s far simpler to raise a safety breach in an app rather than work through layers of management to be heard.

It’s time to stop thinking of workplace safety as simply a box to tick internally. In this new world, there are new rules. ‘The customer is always right’ takes a backseat and safety has right of way as a value proposition. Hospitality businesses that are transparent and consistent in their hygiene measures will gain the loyalty and trust of their customers as the UK takes steps toward reopening. Now is the time to kick into high gear and tap into technology that shapes a culture where everyone — from staff members to diners — is empowered to act.

For more on how to reopen safely this spring, view SafetyCulture’s COVID-19 Resource Hub with free digitised COVID-19 guidance from governments and leading industry bodies. 

This article was first published on Caterer Licensee Hotelier News

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