How 5 Hospitality Brands Are Creatively Adapting Their Service Offering for the COVID-19 Climate

By Hâfi Martinsdóttir

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes | 1157 words

There is nothing quite like a crisis to bring out our inner creativity. In this article we share some of the most creative ways in which we have seen hospitality brands shift their services to continue to cater for their guests in a safe and appropriate way throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ever since the outbreak turned the hospitality industry upside down, hotel marketers have become increasingly reliant on various social media platforms to continue nurturing their relationship with guests in the absence of bookings. Hotel chefs, mixologists and fitness trainers have been popping up all over social media to share their latest recipes, advice, workouts and guidance to help their would-be guests enjoy a sample of their brand’s essence from the safety of their homes.

“If you can’t be on premises, then there’s a palette of takeaway products, in-home experiences, video and conferencing formats that can bring something of a brand’s ethos to your door.” – Peter Maxwell, Frameweb

1. Chase Distillery

Since April, Chase Distillery, have been pro-active in bringing their brand to their audience during their Chase At Home: Tasting Collection initiative. The virtual cocktail tasting masterclasses allow people to pre-order the essential ingredients within a cocktail kit that is delivered directly to their door before meeting at a scheduled time to begin the class.

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We have seen many brands provide virtual cooking lessons too which is an excellent way to whet the viewers’ appetites for what you can offer and encourage bookings for when restrictions allow. As Jennifer Parker of Forbes explains; “Their common cause: Order take-out! Try one of my recipes! Or, better yet, just watch me cook something so sensational that you relate to me on a deep human level and choose to patron my restaurants as soon as we reopen.”

2. Kitchen Theory

In June immersive and multisensory gastronomy brand, Kitchen Theory, launched their at-home sensory experience to enable between 6 – 12 guests to sample their dining experience. Throughout they are taken care of from afar by a virtual chef who further explains the stories behind each dish and wine selection. Kitchen Theory deliver a four to six-course menu that is delivered to their patrons’ homes alongside a selection of paired wines, a sensory tablescape and an appropriate playlist to be enjoyed using wireless headphones also supplied by the brand. They further stimulate the senses using table projections, lighting and textures.

Each dish is pre-prepared and portioned by Kitchen Theory’s chefs before being delivered and are designed for the host to be able to finish the dish within their own kitchen. This enables their guests to enjoy a curated atmosphere and sensation-led culinary experience from the comfort and safety of their own home.

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3. Taj Hotels

Taj Hotels launched their Hospitality@Home initiative consisting of a wellness and food hamper delivery service to continue serving their brand’s ethos to their would-be guests.

“We bring to you the services of the Taj. Because we care. Bringing Tajness to your homes with a promise of warmth, trust and care. Always there to serve you.” – Taj Hotels

Between their Bakery & Confectionery Hamper that includes freshly baked bread, pastries and coffee and their Gourmet Hamper that includes a variety of treats including olives, cheese and dry meats along with a recipe card, patrons are all set to indulge in a little Taj luxury from home. And for those seeking something extra, the Taj Wellness Hamper provides the perfect way to unwind. Included within the Wellness Hamper are a set of aromatherapy oils, body scrubs, foot soaks and detox juice along with an essential sanitiser.

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4. Mekelburg’s

Formerly a gourmet dining and craft beer eatery, Mekelburg’s have since transitioned into a non-contact grocery delivery service. Patrons are able to order their fresh vegetables, meats, cheeses, personal care items and housewares alongside their regular sandwiches and beer, wine or cocktail order.

In addition to providing the restaurant with an additional revenue stream it also supports their community by ensuring their customers can receive their grocery items without needing to leave their homes.

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5. Airbnb

Airbnb have had their fair share of struggles throughout this pandemic and swiftly made the decision to switch up their usual accommodation offering for experiences and teaching. They quickly established a platform for their hosts and guides to provide virtual tutorials to paying guests.

Utilising Airbnb Experiences, patrons can learn everything from cooking with award-winning chefs, discipline coaching from Olympians to learning about Pompeii’s history.

The large variety of interests supported by Airbnb Experiences, the charisma of the hosts and the platform’s ease of use certainly plays a critical role in its success. With one particularly entertaining host reported to have earned $150,000 USD within one month, offering virtual experiences is wonderful way to entertain guests, add an additional income stream and continue to build brand loyalty.

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Although there are multiple directions in which a brand can go when it comes to adding additional revenue streams to their service offering, the main technical aspect simply requires a website with an online ordering system for people wanting home delivery or an online store and booking set up for those wishing to purchase tickets for virtual experiences.

By implementing online systems to cater for these needs, you ensure that your workflow remains efficient and frees up staff time from answering the phone and taking bookings thus enabling them to continue serving your business in others areas instead.

If your hotel has an app, this could be the ideal platform on which to roll out an ordering and/or booking system for your would-be guests to use to ensure a streamlined process and repeat bookings.

Above all, creativity is leading the way for hospitality brands to seek out new revenue streams to keep their business afloat. With housekeepers transforming into delivery personnel and bartenders into virtual instructors, hotel staff are having to be flexible with their roles with many learning new aspects of operating the business to become as efficient and useful as possible within their team.

Many managers are discovering the variety of skills that their team has that are able to be put to good use within this current climate. Multi-skilled staff members are proving invaluable in ensuring a brand stays flexible and ahead of the curve. With teams pulling together like never before for the survival of their livelihoods, it’s certain to create an incredibly strong team dynamic built on trust and mutual respect.

Any additional revenue streams and skills utilised during this pandemic provide their brand with a rich and diverse offering moving forward and can be continued even when rooms are being booked once more.

The lessons from this period in our business’ history must be remembered and those include staying nimble, thinking creatively, working efficiently and dynamically as well as nurturing an ongoing relationship with your guests to foster brand loyalty. This is simply good practice in business, but when done well it can be make or break when hard times do eventually hit.

“This enforced period of innovation will leave many of these hospitality brands irrevocably changed, and likely for the better, given that returning to previous models will likely be impossible. If hotels, restaurants and bars aren’t viable as a standalone option with reduced customer density, maintaining these new marketing and revenues streams will be a necessity.” – Peter Maxwell, Frameweb

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As COVID-19 is unlikely to disappear completely without an effective vaccine, it’s expected that we will have a W shaped recovery with lock downs repeatedly being enforced, relaxed and enforced again over time. Being prepared for this tumultuous recovery will stand you and your hotel in good stead to ride the waves to come.

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About Magpie Creative Co.

Magpie Creative Co. is a digital marketing and design consultancy with a worldwide client base. We provide branding, web design and online marketing for businesses that offer luxury guest experiences and require an efficient online booking system.

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