Creating new revenue for your service business during COVID-19
As the effects of COVID-19 spreads across the world, the primary focus of everyone is the safety of their people and so it should be! However, amidst this, the economic implications are something that we can already feel the waves of, especially in the hospitality industry.
Most people did not see this period lasting as long as it already has nor as long as it is predicted to. As this realisation kicks in, we will see changes in the hospitality industry. Over the next few weeks, we expect to see restaurants, hotels, cafes and even bars adapting their business model, adding delivery options and adding new initiatives that continue to reach their customers through online subscription classes, for example, cookery classes, wine tasting E-vents or maybe even mixology masterclasses
An article from Deloitte detailing the impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry states that this period will open up opportunities for the hospitality industry to expand their offerings “in defining, for instance, new delivery concepts, human capital sharing platforms, initiatives in promoting the “staycation or holistay concept” and the use of the less productive time to work on activities that were normally pushed forward like asset counts, security plans, defining standard operating procedures, social media plans etc.” To give you a flavour (yum!) of what you could do, we have featured a number of exemplar case studies below.
In this article, you will learn about the ways that other brands have adapted to our temporary world and how you can use marketing to lift your brand up and increase awareness of what you offer to the public. Perspective is crucial though, these measures are necessary for the times that we are in but they will also help your business in the years to come - improving your business resilience, helping you to move with the times - which will only benefit you in the future.
ADAPT - Monetise The Education Of Your Customers...
An excellent example of a business who has adapted and excelled in this way is Pull The Cork, a wine shop in London offering vegan-friendly, biodynamic, organic and esoteric wines. Pull The Cork launched their shop in 2018. Being quite new on the scene, they couldn’t afford to just sit back during the pandemic. Last month, they launched their first virtual wine tasting event - announcing it on their owners Instagram page and getting a few social influencers to boost awareness of the event. This proved to be a success. They added this package to their website’s e-commerce store and now, they are offering a special Isolation Case weekly for a set price during the lock-down period.
This increases turnover - people who would usually go in to buy one bottle are more likely to buy a set of three wines which are recommended by the owners - and it also gives their customers something to look forward to on the weekends and learn more about the wines of the world. This also capitalises on the fact that everyone has more free time to take up a new hobby! They also have a strong digital strategy to back this up every week. The process of choosing the wines of the week is depicted on their social media, their online newsletter is launched at the beginning of the week which sends updates on new products and upcoming sales. Posts on social media are then launched to showcase what wines are being added to this week’s Isolation Case, daily reminders are posted on their stories - increasing excitement about the event the following weekend and, finally, a few social ‘influencers’ have been giving it the extra push it needs to take it to the next level. We believe that this is a strong approach to digital marketing during this crisis and feel that is has been executed brilliantly. They are giving customers an incentive to buy more, to buy more frequently and to engage with their brand.
ADAPT - Charge For Your Skills!
Another excellent example of a restaurant changing its offerings during the last few weeks is Bread Ahead, a bakery and cafe with 4 locations in London. Like so many, they are losing a lot of income by closing their doors during the pandemic but have flipped the switch and started live-streaming home baking sessions on Instagram. These live streams garnered so much traction that Instagram’s official page shared their tutorials onto their live feed for 344 million people to view.
Bread Ahead used this viewership very well by announcing a new virtual workshop for a small fee: “In these unusual times, we have sought out ways to continue bringing a little joy into your homes through baking.We have been so humbled by the response we’ve received through our daily Instagram live baking tutorials, we’d like to share even more knowledge and techniques with you all. We have decided to take our most popular baking workshop online. In our first virtual baking workshop together we will make our mouthwatering doughnuts, honeycomb and a variety of custard fillings..”The classes last 2 hours and go through the process of making doughnuts from start to finish. There is a limit to spaces in the workshop and it is conducted over a zoom call.
The reaction to these classes has been so positive that they have now created a new e-recipe book which details all of the recipes that they conducted on their Instagram live (18 in total.) Along with this, they are selling online gift vouchers for future workshops that they will be holding virtually until this period passes but can also be used when the bakery reopens. What an excellent idea for a gift to be shared virtually or to lock down plans with someone you really want to see after this is all over!
MAINTAIN - Don’t Be Afraid To Ask for Help
All this sounds well and good but a lot of business owners in the hospitality industry are struggling financially at the moment... Drastically changing your business is hard at the best of times but not adapting your business to such shocks could cost more in the long term. Before taking a leap of faith and spending money to add an e-commerce site or offering online events - investigate the supports that are available at your fingertips. There are some excellent initiatives available at the moment in both Ireland and the UK such as Innovation Vouchers, OPTIMISE eCommerce fund, The Arts Impact Fund and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Schemes. For more information on what is available for you and your business, visit your Local Enterprise Office or Finance Hub, they are there to help and to inform!
MAINTAIN - Increasing Online Activity
Let’s start at the beginning... The best way to get your message out there at the moment is online activity. Websites and social channels have become ubiquitous to attract new business in the hospitality industry since before COVID-19 but it is needed now, more than ever! It adheres to the social distancing rules while also giving you insights about your customers that is not available anywhere else! Is there any reason not to use it really? We think not! Whether it is to maintain awareness of your business, increase awareness of a new offering or just to reconnect and support your community - this is the best way to do it. Start sharing your thoughts, photos, updates and let people know your story during this time. If you do something good, share it... Think outside the box and share it! Your followers will be interested and you will attract more and more with this method.
If you are feeling anxious about taking that leap of faith, research your competitors (have a look at some examples here), have a look at similar restaurants, bars and cafes in a neighbouring country who are also going through these challenges and take inspiration from what they are doing. Think of the skills that you can offer and how you can monetise these assets. And then, get it all online! Ask for help in adapting your business model from the resources that are available. Reach out to your community and let them know any updates. Most importantly, believe in your business and share everything you can about the process you are going through. The hospitality industry is a community and together, everyone can help each other through these complicated times.