Opinion | A Fight to Get Back to PreCovid Numbers

While the school holidays, a succession of long weekends, and the easing of restrictions saw a slight boost to business in April, there’s still a long way to go before hospitality returns to pre-pandemic prosperity.

That’s why it is important for operators to keep up with the evolving hospitality landscape, including investment in time and labour-saving technology and equipment, simplified menus that focus on locally sourced ingredients, and brand marketing within the online, digital space.

The pandemic prompted the digital delivery revolution, and this trend is here to stay. What this means is that online ordering, delivery, and curbside pickup must be factored into all parts of the restaurant business.

Having a presence on multiple online ordering apps is a given, as well as direct ordering on a restaurant’s own website. Restaurant leaders must prioritise planning for a digital menu with food quality and delivery taken into consideration. Rises in the cost of ingredients are showing up in some innovative menu changes and we expect this to expand into more menu options as cost pressures bite.

In part driven by the pandemic, consumers have been seeking variety and new types of food choices like global cuisines, healthy meals, and unusual ingredients. The trend has increased thanks to social media. TikTok, for example, has been a huge influence, exposing people to new food ideas and spreading diversity. New ideas and trends travel faster around the globe now, and food is no exception.

The perfect storm of inflation, supply chain chaos, dining restrictions and all that time spent in lockdown experimenting with sourdough and banana bread will mean more adventurous home-cooking in 2022. This means establishments need to be aware of the experience they create, rather than just what they serve, as consumers will be looking for a point of difference, 'Grammable' dishes and things that remind them of the comfort of home but have a unique twist they couldn’t create themselves.

Newly established customer behaviours combined with market forces are driving new traffic patterns and a new raft of challenges. Without data and insight into these trends this year, operators risk losing precious time as they work to attract market share and re-establish momentum.