It’s something none of us want to think about, but as cases of COVID-19 continue to sweep across the U.S, a recovering hospitality industry needs to be prepared for another wave of the novel coronavirus that could mandate restaurant & bar reclosures. In fact, the restaurant industry is expecting to lose up to $240 billion by the end of 2020. If cities across the U.S. close their bars and restaurants a second time, how can restaurant and hotel operators be prepared to ease the transition to keep revenue streams running? Read on for four tips on how to prepare your restaurant for COVID-19-related reclosures.
1. Be Ready with Online Ordering for Delivery and Takeout
Studies show that 89% of guests believe they are safer eating food at home, versus inside of a restaurant. Reminding your loyal guests that ordering online from your restaurant is still a safe and viable option is key to driving profit to your bottom line. While guests adjust to newly implemented local restrictions, continuously promote your online ordering capabilities on Instagram, Google and Facebook to generate more orders. For example, NYC-based Korean steakhouse COTE has placed an easily accessible link in their Instagram bio, as well as a highlighted Instagram story, showcasing the ease and convenience of their online ordering capabilities. For more unique tips, check out additional successful marketing tactics for promoting delivery and pickup.
COTE NYC Social Media Marketing Tactic
2. Proactively Draft ‘Reservation Cancellation’ Message Templates
In the circumstance that your local city officials reverse their stance on on-premise dining without ample lead time due to a spike in COVID-19 cases, it’s important to be one step ahead by transparently communicating with your guests. It will be helpful to have reservation cancellation email templates drafted and ready to send to any guests with upcoming reservations. Preparing and perfecting your communications ahead of time will keep everyone on the same page, making any transition quick and as painless as possible. This message can be shared easily with guests via email or through two-way SMS communication. Messages can be tailored to each guest or an easily drafted pre-canned notification. It may also be in your best interest to communicate with loyal customers who did not have an upcoming reservation but would like to be kept in the loop about any alternatives your restaurant will be offering in lieu of cancelled reservations.
3. Block Indoor Dining Reservations
If a re-closure mandate occurs in your city is targeting indoor operations, such as was recently announced by Gov. Newson in California, an important next step is to block indoor dining reservations within your current restaurant reservation system. This will prevent guests from overbooking your outdoor space, therefore creating a negative guest experience when you have to inevitably cancel some of the bookings. This is critically timely. SevenRooms customers can easily update floorplans, implement restriction blocks and close their books until further notice.
Pro-tip: Ensure all of your restaurants’ reservation books across your owned social channels, third party systems and website are synced with any updates you make, so there are no loose ends!
Dining Reservation Management System
4. Get Ultra Creative with New Offerings
As we’ve seen in the past few months, our industry continues to innovate and showcase extreme creativity. The implementation of value-add gift cards, work-from-home lunch specials, curated meal kits and specialized cocktail pairings are just a few ways that restaurants can stick out. Collaborating with a local charity, like Frontline Foods, to help feed frontline and essential workers is also an amazing way to give back while keeping your kitchen hot and running.
Value-Add Gift Card from Sushi Samba London
There are several measures restaurants must take as they do their best to plan for a less than certain future. Thinking one step ahead and creating a game-plan filled with past learnings will certainly ease some of the burdens that are likely to resurface, such as finances, property closures, pivots and repurposing concepts. Formulating a new and increasingly cautious, in-depth plan and taking your staff and guests’ feedback into consideration after hurdles faced in early March will be sure to set your restaurant up for success. It will be instrumental to implement useful technology that will bridge the gap between COVID-19 related hurdles and your operational capabilities, such as contactless solutions, increased sanitation measures and virtual waitlists.