In the year that we’ve been dealing with the pandemic we’ve seen how tough it’s been on businesses. So many people have been working from home, while many others are now laid off hoping they’ll get their jobs back when things get “back to normal.” This has all been especially tough on people working in the hospitality sector.
Restaurants, bars, coffee shops and food trucks have been deeply affected by the lockdowns and/or the requirements they must meet to keep people safe. Owners and operators are worried about the health of employees and patrons, resulting in additional protocols for cleanliness and hygiene. There are added financial pressures as well due to the on and off closures and uncertainty about the future.
In the midst of all these changes, certain processes have shown to provide an unexpected boost, which is the adoption of an innovative new technology that seemingly evolved overnight. Restaurants and others in the hospitality business were forced to quickly pivot to utilizing QR codes and virtual menus showed up all over the place. In addition, custom food-ordering apps started becoming available that allow customers to order ahead on their smartphones for a touchless curbside pickup.
Ordering Food Online
What began as a way to stay in business while protecting public health, is now a common convenience. Many restaurants now have a presence online via website ordering and some even go get a fully blown food-ordering app, available for patrons to download on their smartphones from the App stores.
Many businesses had no choice but to quickly adapt to the situation and implement new strategies.. One year ago, customers rarely requested curbside pickup, but it’s currently the new normal.
The Sudden Upheaval
When the first lockdown was mandated by the government, all restaurants, coffee shops, food trucks, and bars were forced to close their doors until further notice. Everything was in a holding pattern, which left business owners trying to determine what they could do to survive. They soon realized that although they had to refuse dine-in service, they could still accept take-out and/or delivery orders.
This sudden change involved re-imagining how basic everyday practices could be carried out, like the use of to-go containers, packing up meals for delivery, hiring and scheduling drivers. Indoor dining was no longer offered, so eateries had no choice but to figure out ways to keep feeding their customers safely.
Aside from all this, those in the industry briefly lost all personal contact with customers. Restaurant, coffee shop, food truck and bar owners lost all chance to personally serve their patrons, watching them enjoy a tasty dish, snack, or drink. No longer would they hear, “Tell your chef he outdid himself this time” or “I’ll see you later.”
New Ways of Interacting
Throughout the upheaval with businesses trying to stay open, we all discovered how important human interaction is for everyone. Thanks to advances in technology, people are interacting in new ways. Here are four of the most prominent changes that have occurred in the hospitality sector over this last year:
1. Use of Digital Tools
People downloading food-ordering apps and making use of delivery tools kept many restaurants and food trucks in business while the most restrictive lockdowns were in effect. These handy food-ordering apps became a proverbial lifeline for former patrons who were confined to their homes and desperate to taste their favorite meals, snacks, and drinks. A few months after the most severe lockdowns started, restaurants were allowed to open at 25% capacity. Safety remained a priority, so menus were banished in favor of a technological solution. This involved giving customers QR codes or mobile devices to access the menu and place their orders.
2. Touchless Pay
People gave up carrying cash in the last couple of years in favor of paying online or with a credit or debit card, due to the convenience. But this practice has taken on new importance these days since we all know that cash is a huge source of germs. Paying online or with a card helps prevent the spread of the virus, which is why touchless payment methods promote a safe environment for essential workers.
3. No Long Lines
You probably haven’t seen a long line waiting in front of you at a restaurant for a full year, right? These days people use a website or mobile app to order ahead of time and arrange for a touchless pickup or delivery. Customers can select the time they will pick up their order or the time they want it delivered. Either way, restaurant workers can plan their meal prep and cooking times, so that everything is ready when needed. This also allows everyone to maintain social distancing rules.
4. Businesses Adapted Quickly
How quickly the hospitality industry was able to accommodate health and safety protocols was amazing. Although it usually takes at least four months to develop a mobile app, this time-frame would never work in the era of COVID-19 when every single day the doors remained shut seemed like forever.
We at OrderUp Apps, are thrilled to have helped so many Food Trucks and Restaurants pivot from offering dine-in services only with patrons using paper menus to providing a mobile ordering solution with pre-order and delivery functions, as well as advanced features like curbside pickup, push notifications to customers, QR codes, and even provided free online ordering for people not wanting a full blown App.
That all being said, we want you to know that we can develop an app for your business that will be operable within days, not months!.
Although the pandemic hit the hospitality industry very hard, the silver lining was that it triggered some dramatic changes in how things are done. This includes everything from internal businesses processes to communicating with patrons. This entire experience has allowed technology to become an integral part of many more businesses. The team at Order Up Apps can help your business transition smoothly as well, so that your restaurant, coffee shop, food truck or bar can keep your customers happy. Give us a call today so that we can explain how a customized mobile app can improve customer satisfaction, cut costs, and grow your brand.