Now as we enter the reopening phase, a desire for certainty and a return to pre-pandemic norms is understandable amongst the trade.
However, even after 21 June, when all restrictions are hopefully due to be eased, operators will need to remain nimble and agile to meet new consumer expectations.
From this summer onwards, it’s likely that pre and post pandemic consumer behaviours will collide.
Specific solutions introduced as a result of the pandemic will remain – with 34% of consumers planning to use tech such as order and pay after restrictions have been eased – and co-exist alongside customers returning to the bar to order.
What’s more, restaurants will likely have to manage increased delivery orders and in venue customers during the same trading session.
The operators that will flourish in this market are those that embrace this omni-channel approach and sitting at the heart will be a tech ‘eco-system’ that enables and empowers them to manage these channels effectively.
There will undoubtedly be another raft of innovation
By ensuring technology solutions are talking to each other, operators can be provided with a more holistic view of their business with enhanced data and insights.
These tools will be crucial in assessing the success and profitability of specific channels and to ensure businesses continue to focus on the right areas.
Looking further ahead, there will undoubtedly be another raft of innovation as technology continues to evolve.
While, for many, the prospect of voice tech or increased automation in venue may seem a distant prospect, it is closer than many think.
The use of voice tech is quickly becoming an embedded consumer behaviour with devices such as Alexa or Siri and our latest GO Tech report has highlighted that one-in-seven consumers are interested in its use in venue.
The benefits of automation have also been clearly seen over the past year with mobile order and pay, freeing up staff to make more of those moments of engagement with guests and has significant potential to move into other parts of the customer journey.
Deeper understanding of customers
Yet, when the next wave of innovation comes through it can often be overwhelming and difficult for operators to know where to place their bets.
What is certain is that with the increased volume of data available to operators through a fully integrated eco-system, it will enable them to drive a deeper understanding of their customers, meaning they can pre-empt their wants and needs and deliver an enhanced and personalised guest experience that continues to drive loyalty.
The pandemic has seen the sector take a big leap forward when it comes to its adoption and use of technology and it’s also gone a long way to removing the misconception that technology is often ‘innovation’ in of itself.
Throughout the pandemic it has helped support new approaches and tackle the challenges operators have faced, while they strive to keep providing a great guest experience.
The businesses best positioned to flourish as the sector rebuilds will be those that continue to have tech at the very heart of their operations.