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Guest Series: What does the new normal look like for the Hospitality Industry

post Covid-19?


Q&A with Pierre Verneau, Expert Food & Beverage operator – multi brands development

Sustainability & Hospitality post Covid-19


What does the new normal look like for the Hospitality Industry post Covid-19?

From a small virus within just three months, the entire global economy and population for the first time experienced a ‘setback’ – without being able to react to the ‘enemy’!
This new challenge has forced us to think differently – to anticipate, prevent, protect, to equip and train our staff and teams!
PPE, sprays, temperature checks and social distancing are now part of daily life! But the warm and indescribable feeling of entering a venue, a restaurant with life and a vibe is far from over! Our mission, aim and duties are to bring this experience back. This will come with changes in management style, empowering and trusting our people and teams. Training them in new habits, cleaning, disinfecting, and handling food and service standards with care and attention. They have to become more knowledgeable and able to meet guest’s expectations to still create memorable experiences.

With a mask partly obscuring the face a smile will be hard to see, so it will be a ‘shine with your eyes, mode of communication.

Restaurants have always been and will remain a role model in hygiene standards, so adding these skills to our existing service and food preparation will be a new alternative for a new era!
All this to instil confidence, trust and new etiquette for our guest’s safety!

Guidelines for future checklists:
– Remove booths, tables, and chairs to meet distancing rules
– Rearrange entrances for spacing, add floor markings, and signage
– Make workstation adjustments to provide safe distancing between staff
– Consider adding plexiglass at host stations, between tables, and bar areas
– Create new entry and exits in commercial areas to avoid cross contamination
– AC filtering system replacement programme.

What are the major paradigm shifts trendsetting in the Middle East?

  • Cashless payment (Apple or card payment despite being against the law)
  • Staff protection (which removes the hospitable touch of our industry)
  • QR code to download menu (avoids printed menu)
  • Drive in for coffee shop/fast food outlets
  • Casual dining offers a variety of delivery platforms driven by ghost kitchens to avoid company’s overhead and manage their costs whilst offering a large menu range
  • A noticeable trend to the ‘Bio boutique-foody’, but not a realistic approach to ‘how to deliver’ the real product with a positive environmental footprint impact. It’s not just about ‘green packaging’, but rather sourcing local, fresh produce at the right cost. Sustainability is about being environmentally aware whilst being economically viable. Thinking smart and acting smart.

How do you now define sustainable hospitality and tourism? What is our vision and what future do we want to achieve for our industry?

Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea land and property development and Neom (a planned cross-border city in north-western Saudi Arabia), are great examples of how to redefine residential, commercial and tourism destinations by benefitting from the natural elements, whilst protecting them.

From solar panels to wind farms, hydro energy to recycling the entire water system from waste to irrigation, signing a charter based on the movement of environmental respect, where residents and clients are part of the future. This illustrates the full impact, of what could and will be the future of how to live, travel and spend holidays.

Purchasing locally to reduce the impact of importing. Developing small farming and following growing seasons, eating right, taking clients on a responsible journey and involving them in our goals is our key mission and mandate for our self-protection.

Previous generations with less access to technology had a far healthier system with more protection and less revenue, providing resources to large families by their own growth, production and natural resources.

For decades, we’ve been over-using our natural resources to a point of no-return, living on credit and questioning the results. Not only is their an increase in global population, but our lack of conscience to face reality, always wanting more, better, bigger, larger and brighter has resulted in decimating our natural resources compounded by poor management of our assets and products.

What new mindset will hospitality professionals need to adopt toward the guest experience?

  • The main mindset and no brain target are the application of health and safety measures
  • Flexibility and adaptability – showing sustainable management of sourcing and driving our businesses with natural and innovative energies
  • Empowering our team with the know how to deliver the right approach, commercial, sensitive and hospitable
  • Dedicated areas for greeting, entertaining, meeting and dining to accommodate and integrate the new rules and SOPs, now part of daily life
  • Thinking smart and responsible with cleaning chemicals to manage the environmental impact (kitchens, commercial areas, laundry, pool, spa…).
  • Rethinking waste in consumption (buffet, large menu…). Rather offer similar ingredients in various dishes reducing the waste impact but not the value. Possibly a set menu instead of ‘A la Carte’ using local sourcing.
  • Recycling for housekeeping in hotel rooms, toilets, using waste water in hotels and restaurants for washing, landscaping, engineering…

What can you do to make your diner FEEL as though they’re totally safe in your establishment?

“The old model of hospitality with many people touching your table, and closeness to others, that’s gone,” in this new world, trust is the new hospitality. If people trust you and can see that you have made changes to your service that show you are thinking about health and safety—that is hospitality.”

Beatrice Stein, a New York City-based restaurant consultant.

In order to gain confidence and trust from your guest, we have to apply some common, practical but inevitable rules of transformation to our businesses. The list is endless, but below are the most critical points:

  • Communicate clearly and frequently regarding safety procedures, their application, what the host is committing and engaging to protect clients
  • A simple but straight message on a virtual menu can be a sign of honesty and engagement
  • Segregating access and exits to the venue to avoid “cross contamination (similar principle as food)
  • Reinforcing the option to dine outdoors to facilitate air circulation
  • Products origin, traceability, working with seasonal products
  • Open kitchens (behind glass panels) to reassure guests
  • Recording guests booking data (no walk-ins) for tracing purposes
  • New service rules
    – No touching tables
    – Using under liner plates, tableware, utensils….
  • Visual cleaning and disinfecting are a strong sign of trust for diners
Not to mention gloves, masks, other PPE……