Remaining competitive in the hospitality industry is hard work, and falling into a slump can happen quickly. A venue may offer a great dining experience but, after a while, the team may rest on their laurels, or not keep up with current trends. Their interiors may become tired or they may let their social media presence slip. Once that lack of motivation kicks in, it can become difficult to recalibrate.
ResDiary Head of Customer Success and Support APAC Stefan Overzier – who has worked in the hospitality industry since 1991 – says the key to competitiveness is great service, high-quality produce, consistency of performance and reinventing while still remaining true to the venue’s identity.
“There are certain businesses that do well but eventually the ball stops [in part] because the customer return rate is generally quite low. After a while, everything becomes automatic, and you can lose track of what’s happening in the hospitality scene,” Overzier says.
“Sometimes to remain competitive you have to make small adjustments to your menu or fit out, or you might have to make substantial changes. When you stall, you have to reinvent yourself so customers don’t go elsewhere – that’s [akin to] being competitive.”
These are four steps that businesses should consider to remain competitive in the hospitality industry.
1) Conduct research
It’s hard to get out of a slump if the venue doesn’t know what’s going wrong. It might be the menu, the service, the location, the fit-out, economic and social conditions, software, booking and branding issues, changing trends and so on. There’s always going to be things to work on, and the venue needs to know what they are in order to fix them. In addition to conducting market research and checking in with competitors, Overzier suggests inviting friends and family to dine at the venue with a critical eye to help pinpoint what’s going well, what could be improved and what changes need to be made.
2) Fix the issues, then get the word out
Once potential issues have been investigated, identified and remedied, tell people about these improvements. Be active on social media, and put time and energy into different marketing strategies to get the word out. Overzier suggests utilising their website, social and booking notifications (such as ResDiary’s Event Manager) to show what’s new at the venue. “Record birthdays, anniversaries and significant milestones, and send an email a month before which offers a personalised deal or promotion. If they were here six months ago, and haven’t come back, offer them something to return. You may have to give a bit away to gain that business.”
3) Consider updating your menu and fit-out
Diners want to go to venues that look busy and vibrant, and changes to the internal layout can send a message that the business is going through a period of reform. This does not necessarily mean a full-on renovation; a new coat of paint and/or indoor plants can help to revitalise the venue. Overzier also suggests using new and local produce, keeping up to date with trends locally and internationally – for example, incorporating plant-based dishes – and tweaking the menu accordingly.
4) Make sure everyone is on the same page
Once changes have been identified, and potential diners have been notified of these changes, it’s important that they are executed properly. This involves updating procedures and protocols, and ensuring that everybody in the venue – from the top down – is up to date with the new MO. According to Overzier, the best marketing is still word of mouth post-dining, so it’s critical that the venue creates expectations of a consistently positive experience. “You have to do it right so customers come back and tell their friends,” he says.
For a hospitality venue to be competitive, they have to do a variety of tasks and actions well. If they fall behind, it’s not necessarily the end. Rather, it may move the business to examine what’s happening internally and externally, make the necessary improvements and reinvent accordingly.
Disclaimer: This guide is general in nature and does not take into account your individual circumstances. Before acting on any information, you should consider whether this is right for your business.