The hospitality industry was hit hard by regional COVID-19 responses and changing customer behavior. Restaurants, casinos, hotels and other venues have been closed periodically and have seen occupancy limits decreased.
At the end of November, Nevada Governor, Steve Sisolak, lowered occupancy limits and once again reduced the size of allowed gatherings, limiting casino, restaurant, and bar capacity to 25 percent. Other states and major cities are also implementing partial shutdowns or reduced gathering mandates due to a second COVID-19 wave.
Damage isn’t the only thing affecting your bottom line. It’s been a challenging and demoralizing year for the spirit of hospitality. On both consumer and operational sides, our community entertainment venues have always been a source of escapism, celebration and well-earned respite. People are meant to spend time with one another, and hospitality exists to help them make the most of that time.
As we enter a new recovery phase, hospitality will look drastically different from a year ago. If there is one industry that thrives on resilience, it’s this one. We can’t give the people everything they (and we) want, but we can make the most of what we can offer.
Most owners would certainly prefer staying open with restrictions to closing altogether. Still, it will take creativity, ingenuity, and strategic planning to thrive in this unique era. Our list of five ways to succeed in 2021 will inspire you not only to survive amidst a sea of restrictions, but to thrive.
Innovating Your Way to Abundant Success in 2021
Before we dive in, we need to consider guest and employee safety. The signs point to an improvement in our pandemic response in 2021, thanks to an emerging, widespread plan for vaccinations and a year’s worth of wisdom about how we can all help to slow the spread. Still, it’s not yet time to let go of all the precautions.
Consider guest and employee safety at every decision-point. Besides doing your part to fight against the virus, as a hospitality-minded professional, you want your guests and staff to feel comfortable at all times.
Guests stand to benefit when you take a proactive, anticipatory approach. Leverage your deep understanding of your customers by laying the groundwork to match their expectations. Customers who are venturing out for entertainment during the pandemic may feel apprehensive, so ensure you’re keeping your venue safe and clean, and communicate what you’re doing toward those goals.
Create Contactless Opportunities That Drive Value
Almost three-quarters of hospitality companies responding to a recent survey said that the pandemic has exposed tech gaps in their operations. Many of these companies have also realized that customers have responded to contactless technologies so positively that they plan to make permanent changes.
Consider investments in contactless tech like UrVenue’s mobile menus. These engaging platforms deliver a familiar, app-like experience. Guests can access up-to-the-minute menu changes and take advantage of revenue-generating, limited-time specials: “For the next hour, get a free cocktail with appetizer purchase!”
Virtual entertainment is another promising contactless vehicle for customer engagement in the face of local restrictions. For example, guests could interact virtually with a DJ or live band from an event space or venue inside an integrated resort.
Consider other investments in contactless tech like:
- Online and kiosk check-ins
- Keyless entry
- Mobile payment capabilities
- Automated guest messaging
Leverage Every Single Piece of Inventory
Take a step back and take an inventory of your assets. Are you overlooking potential sources of revenue?
Even though you may be limited by maximum capacity restrictions, there’s a good chance you’re overlooking the potential in underutilized resources. For example, if your facility has a pool as a complimentary feature for guests, you could revamp your offerings to include pool time rentals by the hour. And, while you’re at it, rent cabanas and umbrellas. Not to mention this rental system can help with occupancy management and guest satisfaction for COVID-first practices.
For casinos, sportsbook assets offer other potential sources of found revenue. These unique venues can be used beyond their intended purpose. Comfortable seating, a highly digitized experience, and wide-open spaces make these facilities ideal for pandemic-era entertainment beyond the world of sports betting.
Take Cues From How Nightclubs Operate
When occupancy is limited, nightclubs work especially hard to maximize revenue per table. The idea of table minimums or deposits to secure “the best table in the house” can easily be translated to your resort restaurants and lounges. At 25% or 50% occupancy, the value of every one of your tables goes up, and using a flexible tool like UrVenue will maximize that revenue as well as give your customers an exceptional experience.
Customers would be able to reserve the exact table that they want, know in advance the set menu or options they have available, and feel like VIPs as they are assured their table / cabana / seat at the sportsbook is waiting for them when they arrive. With pre-designated seating, they will feel safer knowing that your venue is following the healthy and safety guidelines that accompany regionalsocial distancing guidelines.
In restaurants specifically, invest in interactive digital features that attract new customer segments and keep your loyal patrons coming back. At a time when in-person transactions arestill sources of customer anxiety, digital-first experiences will save the day.
Consider adding features like:
- Dynamic mobile menus that change depending on the time of day, limited specials, seasonal offerings, and so on
- Mobile ordering and payment from the table
- Ordering kiosks placed throughout a venue
- Pre-arrival seat selection to eliminate or reduce in-person interactions with hosts
- Virtual waitlists
Invest in Customer Education
Don’t underestimate the value of customer education. Thanks to continually shifting guidelines and sometimes confusing state mandates, customers can become understandably confused (and frustrated) about what to expect.
Make it easy on your customers and staff by clearly indicating how your venue is handling pandemic restrictions. Easy-to-read signage, website and social network communication, and an educated staff all go a long way.
Chatbot capabilities are another easy way to educate and communicate with customers. Customers can interact with a digital concierge service from their smartphone or computer in a conversation about virtually anything related to your venue. Your chatbot can educate customers about COVID policies, give information about your hours and location, or even help customers book a reservation.
Maximize Customer Spend
In addition to mobile tech that makes it easier for customers to handle transactions, look at other operations that could benefit from a digitized approach.
For example, guests could handle pre-authorizations, deposits and prepays on their own through your website, ahead of their reservation (which they can also handle online). This approach can be a win-win. Customers don’t have to wait around once they arrive, and you’ll have a much better handle on expected revenue.
Bundled experiences can also enhance maximum customer spend and increase prepayments. By building experiences together, you’ll be able to offer creative, unique packages to incentive customers. Bundles could include any number of combinations:
- Dinners with comedy shows or live musical performances (that’s if live performances have opened again in your venue!)
- Cabana rentals with drink coupons
- Pool experiences that includes parking
- Drink coupons with prepaid table bookings
- Reservations or table deposits with a branded promotional item
Focus on Convenience
Make it so easy for customers to spend money with you that they are happy to do it. Center your marketing messages on how simple your venue makes enjoying a night out or arranging for off-site business meetings.
Low occupancy can be profitable when you embrace technology that empowers you to do things like:
- Offer advanced bookings for small meeting rooms, private dining rooms, and lounges
- Open your reservation book for self-service, online pre-bookings
- Use business intelligence solutions like UrVenue to develop a deeper understanding of customer activity, loyalty and responsiveness
UrVenue empowers its hospitality partners to meet customers where they are — online. The single touchpoint UrVenue interface showcases all the assets that make your property special and exciting with one click.
How Will You Thrive in 2021 (and Beyond)?
Enhance your revenue and continue building your client base despite ongoing restrictions. Today’s hospitality game will be won with creative tech solutions that help make our “new normal” profitable and flexible.
No matter the size of your venue or resort, you can overcome the challenges of hospitality in the post-pandemic era, maximizing front to back-of-house efficiency. UrVenue’s automated tools ecosystem will help you keep operations teams streamlined, informed in real-time and ready to deliver world-class service at any moment.
When you integrate UrVenue into your venue’s systems, you’ll gain real-time insights about your guests, employees, resort operations and sales, at every touchpoint — data that can power all your operational decisions. Request a free demo today.