Our Altaura Talks webinar, explored how businesses have fared during the pandemic. With some great stories from our guests across the industry on how you can adapt to thrive in the hospitality industry.    Hosted by Doug Marshall, the CEO and Founder of Altaura, who led the discussion with our two headline speakers Benjamin Calleja, CEO at Livit Design and Simon Allison, Head of Marketing at Inception Group London. They talked through the highs and lows of being in hospitality right now. We learned some essential lessons on the importance of creativity, efficiency, and motivation. Featuring a video with appearances from Warner Music, Hari’s Hairdresser, Paddington Works, and The Hunters Moon Pub.

Introduction

The group agreed that although times have been tough, opportunities and ideas have pushed businesses to evolve their offerings. Our guest speakers agreed it has in some ways created space for ideas to become reality, and given teams more time to acknowledge pitfalls, and motivated them to make improvements.

Simon was very forthcoming about his team at Inception Group. He said ‘when you’re forced into a position where your team has slimmed down, you are left with those who are committed and will take responsibility to have ideas. When there’s no one to sign anything off, it’s more fluid. Ok, not all your ideas succeed, but it’s the willingness to try because you will learn. If you know your audience and trust your team you can get it right”.  

The Guest Experience

  The group spoke about how the guest experience has changed, but how the guest will always value unique experiences. Ben made the point that the guest is now savvier, and will choose where they spend their cash more selectively. 

   For many businesses, new policies and regulations do take their toll. Curfews are of great concern to the pubs and bars in cosmopolitan cities like London, especially leading up to the holidays. Simon and his team rely on this period for booking in big groups – something that will be harder this year. 

Understanding Your Audience

  Benjamin spoke about how understanding your audience is critical in getting your service offering right. He explained how the context of geography and culture play a key role in defining what experiences in hospitality should cover. There are countries that have found it easier to adapt during the pandemic because they already had the infrastructure in place. For example, the US already had a huge off-premise eating culture before COVID and has a market where convenience can be the experience that people value above other services. 

Changes In Decision Making

   Simon spoke about a shift in internal and external communication due to COVID from Founders, suppliers and even competing businesses. He said “we’re being more honest now”. This has opened up channels between competitors and aligned businesses. To survive you cannot shy away from asking for help or to “beg, borrow or steal ” as Simon joked. Partnering with the right brands can be a huge asset in situations like this. 

  Benjamin’s knowledge on the global market is extremely in-depth. Livit is a data-driven organisation, with tools that show a map of where COVID has been having the most and least impact. Livit could forecast decisions based on these insights. For example, Livit could see how the announcement of a vaccine triggered more consumer confidence. Sales across the globe rose because people felt as though COVID was all over.

Using Brand Touch Points As Tools To Move Sales

  The conversation with Ben moved onto how to get the most out of your touchpoints as a hospitality business. Touchpoints such as sound, lighting, and scent are not simply things you need to implement to create an atmosphere, but they are essential tools that can drive sales, that can also collect important data on your customer’s behavioural patterns.

  For example, we know sound moves sales. Depending on energy levels, playlists or volume choices. We know that volume of music can have an impact on whether you’ll choose healthier food or not, and pitch can impact alcohol consumption and music can influence the speed at which people move in your spaces.

The Future For Brands And Spaces

    Benjamin asserts that brands that are highly experiential are the ones that are going to thrive in the future. With a nod to the work that Simon and his team are doing, on providing truly one-off memorable experiences. The big chains and franchise giants have a lower experience factor compared to up and coming smaller companies, who can adapt faster. However, if businesses don’t learn to adapt, it will be much harder for them to survive.

We’ll be keeping our ears to the ground over the next six months, to see how all this is going to play out. Stay tuned as we continue to connect with more industry leaders. Learn more about their stories and journey through this unpredictable time.

Thanks for reading the highlights from Altaura Talks. Thanks again to Benjamin and Simon and all our participating parties, we hope you’ll join us for the next webinar in the series.