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The enduring value of hospitality

By Tim Chapman

- Last updated on GMT

Zonal on the enduring value of hospitality

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The chief commercial officer at specialist hospitality technology company Zonal on a recent survey that analysed the public's perceptions of hospitality and their general attitudes to it.

The hospitality industry has faced unprecedented challenges in recent times, with increased costs, and recruitment and staff retention continuing to be a significant concern. That being said, hospitality has a long history of adapting and overcoming obstacles. This inherent strength suggests that, with the right approach, hospitality can not only get through challenging times, but emerge even stronger, particularly with public support.

Our latest GO Technology report​, in partnership with CGA by NIQ and UKHospitality, took a deep dive into public perceptions of hospitality and their general attitudes to it. Tim Chapman, Chief Commercial Officer at Zonal, shares some of the report’s key takeaways, what they mean for operators, and how they can use this insight to ensure the long-term success of their businesses.

Hospitality: An integral part of social lives

Despite a squeeze on spending, hospitality is and remains an integral part of Britain’s social life, with 65% of respondents saying eating and drinking out is as important in their social life as it was before the cost-of-living crisis, and 64% saying that hospitality plays an important role in their local communities.

When it comes to the factors that motivate consumers to visit venues rather than staying in, socialising with friends and celebrating special moments top the list of priorities, highlighting the industry's role in strengthening social bonds and creating lasting memories. Special occasions also draw significant numbers, with 44% preferring to celebrate milestones at hospitality venues rather than at home. The desire to experience something new, shared by over a fifth of respondents, as well as two-fifths who expressed going out as a treat as a motivation, further demonstrates the enduring allure of hospitality.

Delivering special experiences that can’t be recreated at home and consistently delivering on the fundamentals of hospitality is key to encouraging repeat visits and driving loyalty. Our research showed that high quality food and drink reigns supreme, with 53% of guests citing it as a major factor in their decision to return. Close behind is good service, with 50% of guests emphasising its importance and good value for money comes in at 48%. By focusing on these core elements, restaurants can significantly increase their chances of turning first-time customers into loyal patrons. This is easier said than done, but operators who invest in their teams and the technology that is needed to smooth workflows and increase efficiencies, will ultimately reap the rewards.

An opportunity to build careers, not just memories

It’s no secret that recruitment is an ongoing challenge for the sector. Organisations such as Hospitality Rising have been fundamental in revolutionising the way that people view careers in hospitality and it’s evident this work is beginning to have an impact, with our research revealing that nearly half of young adults (18-24) and Londoners find a career in hospitality appealing. And with the movement hitting 250,000 job applications a year on from its inception, it’s clear that a positive change is underway.

To ensure these numbers continue to grow, it’s important that operators work together to continue to showcase the variety of exciting opportunities available for people to choose from and help make hospitality the career of choice for young jobseekers. Placing your people at the heart of what you do – from offering forward thinking incentives to investing in building a great culture – is key.

What this means for operators

Ultimately, the industry's future hinges on acknowledging its unique value proposition - prioritising exceptional customer experiences, fostering a supportive work environment, and recognising the invaluable contributions of hospitality workers are key to overcoming current obstacles.

With our research demonstrating the vital role hospitality plays in enriching lives, fostering communities, and driving the economy, the industry can expect continued support and a prosperous future for generations to come. Operators cannot rest on their laurels though, so consistently delivering on the fundamentals of hospitality, is vital. Those that do this right will generate return visits, a loyal customer base and therefore long-term success and support.

Technology can also lend a helping hand - operators who invest in technology as well as their teams will be able to create seamless workflows and increase efficiencies. In the long-run, tech can play a crucial role in revolutionising the hospitality industry by streamlining time-consuming administrative tasks. This can allow staff to focus on the guest-centric aspects of their roles, enhancing job satisfaction and potentially attracting a wider demographic seeking a more engaging work environment.

To download a copy of Zonal’s latest GO Technology Report ‘The Value of Hospitality’, in partnership with CGA by NIQ and UKHospitality, visit Zonal’s website.

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