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Why digital is here to stay post COVID-19

No other industry has been forced to adapt quicker and more ferociously than hospitality.  Venues once known as places to eat, drink and have fun, have been robbed of their very essence. And the people who made them great, bar staff, bar managers, bartenders, chefs, waiting staff, have been thrown into an unknown world.​

Digital has proven to be a new lifeline for bars, restaurants and hotels alike. From cocktails kits to-go, to meal delivery from places that did not deliver a few months ago, to building personal brands for bartenders, a whole new world has opened. A world where you could still keep in touch with your customers, where you could still keep your brand and your business afloat. ​

Google My Business and Maps were one of the first to respond to the crisis with a series of features, allowing venues to mark a location as temporarily closed, set special opening hours, add a highlighted COVID 19 post to your profile, safety and hygiene practices, availability of gift cards to support your business, online classes and visits. ​

Instagram has released their “Support small business” sticker, allowing people to show their love for smaller business in Stories. Businesses benefited by reaching new audiences with new lines of communication and shoppable posts to generate some much needed revenue.

One of the youngest platforms on the scene, TikTok, has proven to be a valuable new platform for bartenders and hospitality businesses alike: donation stickers allowed users to directly donate to a business or an individual, creating cocktail making videos for millions of people. One great example of this is Ashley Hupp, The Paradise Bartender on TikTok, amassing over 2.7 million followers in a just a few months. ​

The other way that bartenders have been innovating the digital, at-home experience is by hosting the Zoom night out: Alissa May Atkinson, a bartender from Brooklyn, started by hosting a virtual reunion with an old friend where they made caipirinhas together. The first gig generated $30 in tips but it was quickly followed by larger cocktail making groups and her first live event.​

There’s no doubt that social media has played a huge part in keeping bartenders, bars and restaurants top of mind in the age of Coronavirus, while supplementing or offering new revenue streams. The lessons learned during this period are going to be invaluable, even when things go back to normal, years from now. Digital is here to stay and not to be ignored, for hospitality and beyond.