In this thought leadership series, Revel CSO Chris Lybeer shares his thoughts and predictions round the hospitality industry. This is a company that has confronted a year filled with obstacles. He pairs these thoughts with advice on how restaurants can continue to adapt and flourish. Chris brings insights from a career spent fostering technology for restaurants and retailers. In this post, he shares a positive spin on how COVID-19 might in fact be helpful for the hospitality industry. Check back each month for more thoughts straight from Chris, a valued member of the”People POS.” Looking for a Silver LiningMake no mistake, the past few months–well, 2020 as a whole–have been piled with intense challenges and change to our families, friends, businesses, and the planet. The hospitality industry was not immune to those struggles. As someone who has built a career revolving around the point of sale (POS) space, it was really difficult watching companies struggle and see hard-working staff members furloughed.
It would be extremely nearsighted to downplay the pandemic’s impact on daily life. However, I like to hunt for positivity in situations, even if it’s tough. I encourage you to humor me in how COVID-19 might really be an excellent thing for the hospitality industry. Shifting Tides Before the PandemicPrior to the outcome of COVID-19, restaurants and retail firms were on the precipice of real operational shift. I believed this, and I could feel it based on what our clients wanted.
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Operators were excited and receptive to learning about how technology can help them better serve their customers and meet them where they were. They were craving a more diversified technology combination, backed by a solution that contributes with the flexibility that legacy systems lack. They understood, more than ever before, that underinvestment in technology could be devastating. Operators understood they had to be able to provide omnichannel trade backed by centralized data. This was coming from an industry that–if we’re being truthful –has lagged behind others in taking advantage of technology.
Let us take a look at this speculation in the amounts. Before COVID-19, digital restaurant orders had increased 23 percent annual since 2013 and were expected to triple in volume by 2020. Compare that projected expansion to a more generalized look at online spending post-pandemic. U.S. eCommerce sales in May of 2020 jumped by 92.7 percent, and clients spent more than $53 billion through eCommerce in the U.S. in April and May. Access to an efficient online ordering solution helps companies capitalize on the meteoric growth of online purchases. I think firms are now realizing that their POS must become a true technology partner, and make attaining these digital-first clients simple. Commerce Isn’t Dying; It’s Evolving Despite the growth of more digital shopping avenues, in-person eating and buying is certainly not dead, it’s just evolving. The term”contactless” is now everywhere, and with excellent reason, as once-shuttered businesses begin to innovate and adapt to more germ-conscious customers. Mastercard reports that contactless payments climbed 40 percent in the second quarter of 2020 alone, and some markets are raising tap-and-go limits to promote usage.
I believe the higher demand for a contactless buying experience will most likely have a substantial impact on how firms pivot their in-store experience moving forward. Similarly, demand will increase for POS solutions offering contactless technology. Users are also looking for features offering them an option to inquire contact-free delivery during their online ordering experience, and Revel is enabling clients to meet this demand.Flexibility and Efficiency are Crucial to ResilienceNo one in the hospitality industry saw the impacts of the pandemic coming, but the industry will come out stronger because of the forced technological growth that many companies have experienced. Those who respond and adapt will be more flexible, more efficient, and much more willing companies. You could argue they’re more customer-focused than formerly; a few Revel clients completely changed their business models only to fit the requirements of their customers and communities. I believe that each of those successes will have long-term benefits across a market built on strength and endurance.