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Same Same But Different

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Same Same But Different

by Luke Butler

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Hospitality is all about relaxation and escapism. COVID-19 will never change that.


We enjoy hospitality in so many different ways. Whether we seek fine dining, pubs, clubs, cafes or hotel stays, the underlying motivation is the same in my opinion. We dance, drink, eat, talk, laugh, sometimes cry and generally celebrate in hospitality venues.


Consciously or subconsciously, we choose experiences and locations that remove us from our daily lives and enable us to relax, for the most part...


This isn’t going away. In fact our motivation to enjoy hospitality will likely return with a vengeance having been starved of these pleasurable experiences for such a long time.


Importantly, the fundamentals of hospitality do not need to change. All of us, customers and providers, simply need to identify a new way to operate safely and to our mutual benefit. Some say that hospitality will change fundamentally as a result of COVID-19, but I believe the long-term impacts will be far less severe than many think.


With restrictions easing and trading limitations being in place in the short term, I maintain that many businesses will need to modify their approach to ensure their profitability and manage the broader economic issues impacting revenue. Everyone wants to ensure the survival of their business – but that was a reality pre-COVID-19.


This does not mean that hospitality’s fundamental attraction to consumers has changed. It does however mean that some businesses will need to modify their approach to ensure survival.


Put simply; people really want to return to pubs, restaurants, clubs, cafes and bars, which I believe they will want to do so with haste. Just where they choose do it may be different, with many opting for local experiences closer to home.


We witnessed the public’s frenzy to resume normality with the re-opening of beaches. Their rapid return to these public spaces quickly led to beaches being closed again due to overcrowding.


It is reasonable to expect the same pressure on hospitality venues when they reopen. Hopefully, tighter management by alert and seasoned operators will result in venues avoiding the same fate as the beaches, or a resurgence in public infection.


What we are facing is both an economic and health issue – not a seismic shift in the way humans behave. Headlines stating that ‘Hospitality will never be the same again’ are grandstanding examples of clickbait that can cloud our thought processes and misrepresent the real challenges that lie ahead.


This resilient industry will be ok for the most part. Sadly, a number of operators will not make it through as evidenced by already announced closures. The same could be said for retailers, architects, builders, designers and photographers. But their sectors will survive too.


Survival is the goal. Find a way. Think creatively and push hard. Hospitality operators are better suited than most for this challenge.