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Jul 22nd 2020
The Blend
Global

Are hospitality lockdown trends here to stay?

As lockdown measures are slowly eased around the world and the hospitality industry begins to cautiously re-open, we wonder which lockdown trends will disappear and which are here to stay. Has the current pandemic changed the way we interact and socialise?

Virtual events

From virtual drinks to bartenders sharing their knowledge and expertise with not only those in the hospitality industry, but also for anyone wanting to be creative with cocktails at home, digital channels have become part and parcel of how we access entertainment, how we learn and more importantly, how we have been socialising in the last few months. Many of our favourite industry events have moved to a virtual only model, as detailed in our latest round-up of 2020 events here.​

Digital-first entertainment has made a real impact on captive audiences – the One World: Together at Home live-stream concert drew 20.7 million live viewers, while 1.3 million people tuned into a single virtual NASCAR race. ​

But as cities open up again, will they stick to these newfound forms of digital entertainment – or ditch them for the real deal?

Cocktails to-go

Who hasn’t ordered a few cocktail kits and extended their assortment of at-home drinks supplies during lock down?​

Flask-like bottles, takeout containers or vacuum-sealed bags – we’ve seen a lot of innovation over the past few months. Bars and restaurants have adapted well to focus their efforts on getting their products in front of consumers through cocktail (and food) delivery services.​

We know we’ve missed our favourite bars and so have our customers, but will the cocktail delivery and the at-home cocktail hour become more of a permanent fixture once everything is ‘back to normal?’ Adding a delivery and e-commerce element to what is fundamentally a physical space has the potential of acting as an additional revenue stream, especially in the medium term, as customers are still uncertain and there is an element of fear still looming in the air.

Redesigned hospitality spaces

One by one, the doors of bars are restaurants are re-opening and welcoming back customers. The near future of going out probably won’t look like anything we’ve seen before as the spaces we once knew are now being made to adapt around one common theme: safety. So how different will it all be?

The first clues come from around the world, but in true fashion, no two cities are the same. From personal protective equipment (PPE) to social distancing measures, one-way systems, table service, the use of protective screens and taking advantage of outdoor space are all measures we have seen being put into place around the world. 

Time Out reports that “In Hong Kong, for example, which reopened its bars on May 8, venues can only operate at half capacity, administering temperature checks to punters on the door and seating groups no larger than four. Many now operate a booking system so that they can stagger visits during opening hours. Staff are required to wear masks, and facilities are subject to regular disinfection.”

Other countries, like Italy, and the UK, seem a bit more relaxed, but are maintaining social distancing and making the most of outdoor spaces. In Australia, registration of all guests at venues and restaurants is becoming the norm through manual capturing of information through to QR code apps.

Although sharing menus and communal tables may very well disappear, the physical lay-out of the restaurant and bars will have to be redesigned to emphasize more social distancing. Outdoor dining with fresh air could be the norm along with deliveries and virtual events and trade shows that show no sign of going anywhere soon.