Here’s What Your Restaurant Can Do to Accommodate the ‘New Norm’

Hospitality businesses are bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 crisis. From reduced hours to limited resources, to complete closures, this global pandemic hasn't spared restaurants and hotels in the slightest. However, states across the country are beginning to lift stay at home orders, which means these types of businesses can finally ease into serving customers in person. Of course, there are now plenty of CDC and COVID-19 guidelines to keep in mind before opening doors. The hospitality industry faces a unique challenge, where they have to enforce these new health and safety measures while keeping the customer experience elevated. 

Practice Even Better Customer Service 

Encourage your employees to practice excellent customer service. Customers are already wary of going out to dine or away from home as it is, so going above and beyond could make a significant difference in their experiences. Keep employee and customer interactions positive, but also respectful of personal space. Make sure that your employees are keeping their distance, even while cleaning and sanitizing common areas. Essentially, all hospitality businesses should be and must be cleaner and more enjoyable than ever before. 

Reward Customer Loyalty 

The current economic climate isn't playing any favorites, so the fact that customers are still willing to spend money on any hospitality business speaks volumes. Reward customer loyalty by offering exclusive discounts or special offers to show how much their business is genuinely appreciated. Another way to recognize current customers is to establish a valuable referral program. This way, all parties benefit! These simple practices will pay off (literally) in the long run, and motivate customers to come back. 

Communicate Health and Safety Measures

Be sure to inform your current and potential customers of the CDC guidelines that are being enforced in your establishment, so that customers know and feel that their safety and health are taken seriously. Restaurants or hotels can send out a newsletter, post on social media, as well as display COVID-specific signage in their locations. No matter what it is, that initial communication is so important! Customers likely will choose a hospitality business that has health and safety measures in place. 

Invest In and Offer Branded PPE 

Hand sanitizer and face masks have been wiped clean off the shelves in many grocery stores! If guests don't have any personal protective equipment, it's an excellent investment to have some readily available. If businesses have room in the budget, they should consider creating facemasks that sport their company’s logo! This way, brands can help customers feel safe while brand building. Or, something as easy as creating hand sanitizing stations, and even giving out makeshift masks (like bandanas) can have a positive impact. Also, be sure to encourage employees to wear face masks and wash their hands often, because customers will make a note of this when in your location. 

Establish a Follow up Procedure

In all, it's a make or break time for all businesses in the hospitality industry. Try sending out a quick survey, or posting a poll on social media to gain more feedback and insight from customers about these new business practices. To make follow ups more personable, have employees engage with customers by asking them questions about their comfort levels regarding safety and health. The next few months will be pivotal for gaining customers' trust and confidence back, and in turn, making hospitality businesses thrive once again.