The COVID-19 Innovations the Hospitality Industry Wants to Keep

Contactless payments, the Eat Out to Help Out scheme and online booking systems are the pandemic industry innovations the hospitality sector wants to keep going forward, according to research from Nespresso Professional.

The research, which polled 1,000 individuals from across the hospitality industry, including 500 senior leaders, explores the ways businesses have adapted and innovated over the past 12 months, as well as priorities for the future as we emerge from the pandemic.

Since the beginning of the pandemic in March last year, Nespresso Professional found that 90% of hospitality businesses have adapted in some form. Over half (54%) of those asked stated they wanted to keep contactless payments because it helps to run the business more efficiently, while one in four (42%) felt the technology was less stressful for employees.

Eat Out to Help Out, the government scheme introduced last August to encourage diners back into restaurants, was identified as a crucial innovation over the last year. 74% of research respondents found that the scheme was very or somewhat effective in helping them to survive the pandemic.

Contactless payments also came out on top in terms of technologies businesses have relied on in order to adapt, with 41% of respondents stating this technology. Touchless hand sanitiser (33%) was revealed as second and online booking systems (31%) was named in third place.

A third (32%) of senior leaders also state that social media was a key driver for business adaptation because of the pandemic, helping consumers to connect online while hotels, restaurants and cafés haven’t always been open to visit in person. 27% of business owners say it has been the biggest saviour for their business this past year.

Looking more broadly at the non-technological ways that the industry has adapted their business, offering a takeaway service (41%), focusing more on outdoor space (36%) and introducing a new product or service (32%) were the top three ways businesses have adapted to survive during the pandemic.

Reasons for adopting new technologies

When looking at the reasons why businesses chose contactless payments, online booking services and touchless sanitiser, 20% of senior leaders said this was because these were the most cost effective ways to reassure customers, whereas another 21% felt these were the most effective ways to reach new customers.

Consumers are also at the heart of sustainability decisions for hospitality businesses too, with 67% highlighting it will become even more of a priority over the next year and just under half 46% of all individuals surveyed saying customer demand is a driver for sustainability initiatives in the future.

Exploring the practical elements used to entice customers, 24% said they had added takeaway beverages to their menus, and a third (34%) had invested in better quality coffee to help entice new customers with an improved coffee offering.

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