TRANSFORMATION | 05.20.2020
The immediate future for hotels and restaurants: A stark choice between adapting or going under
As the wait goes on for a coronavirus vaccine, one of the pandemic’s biggest victims, the hospitality industry, must adapt to prevent infections among its clients and employees. What are the keys to accomplishing this? Introducing health and hygiene safety measures and reducing seating capacities to ensure social distancing. Technology can play a key role in this plan of action for restaurants and hotels, by both preventing close contact between individuals and providing a way to manage and analyze the situation. Going digital has moved to the forefront as a way to implement the new protocols.
Stopping the spread with digital menus and self check-in
In the near future, gaining clients’ trust will be paramount. Conveying a sense of health and wellness will be the first step to take for any establishment. Some will opt for hygienic options like no-touch menus: just scan a QR code with your cellphone and voila, all the menu options are right there in front of you. Some of the more advanced apps even let you place your order directly, so you don’t have to interact with a server.
In the post-lockdown world, hotel guests will have the option to do the check-in and check-out processes by themselves, eliminating the need to stop in reception. The entire check-in process could be completed using an app on a phone, or a machine or kiosk that checks the information, takes payment by credit card, and even dispenses the room key (or card).
Another way to prevent the spread of the virus in restaurants would be to take people’s temperature before they enter, although those infected don’t always have a fever. Of course, this measure would have to comply with data protection laws. Options available for implementing this measure range from simple handheld digital infrared thermometers to sophisticated machines using thermal cameras that can take someone’s temperature from several feet away.
Protocols for constant thorough cleaning and disinfection
Besides enforcing social distancing of at least 5 feet (including the use of physical barriers), establishments need to step up their cleaning efforts, disinfecting everything before opening and then frequently throughout the day. Hand sanitizer should be made available to customers when entering and leaving restrooms. Staff should wear masks, wash their hands constantly (whether they’re wearing gloves or not), and be prevented from leaving in their work clothes.
On its website, ITEL (Instituto Técnico Español de Limpieza — the Spanish Technical Cleaning Institute) states that “for the disinfection of frequently touched surfaces (e.g., light switches, buttons, phones, door knobs, etc.), cleaning with ionized water proved to be the most effective means of chemical sterilization without leaving behind any biofilms.”
New ways to increase revenue
In this new reality, businesses in the hospitality sector will have to adopt new strategies to lessen the impacts caused by lost clients and revenue. According to the online workshop “Restaurant Innovation at the Height of the Covid-19 Crisis” hosted by Culinary Action, the Basque Culinary Center’s food entrepreneur program, these strategies would include alternatives like food delivery and takeout.
“Effective management is becoming even more of a priority. It means doing something to keep struggling businesses afloat, finding new sources of income without making new investments or incurring further costs. Besides using technology to design platforms for delivery and takeout services, there is an opportunity to improve internal management using data management or big data,” concluded experts at the online workshop.
Ultimately, by going digital, implementing disinfection procedures, and rethinking their business models, these industries may find a way to survive until everything returns to normal. Because eventually things will return to normal; that much is certain, though, in one way or the other, COVID-19 will surely leave an indelible mark.