Hospitality at home – is it here to stay?

Takeaway & delivery could be a long-term business strategy for some restaurants

When COVID-19 first hit, many operators initially turned to takeaway and delivery in a bid to keep on people’s radars, diversify revenue streams and keep some money coming in. However, as restrictions begin to ease for hospitality, it seems this could be a long-term business strategy for some restaurants. We find out how some outlets have adapted their businesses to offer some of the best ‘hospitality at home’ and why this could be a trend that’s here to stay.

Venues of all shapes and sizes have really embraced the concept of offering meal boxes and meal kits. Whether it be a DIY burger kit, recipe box or tasting menus, restaurants have thought of it all and what’s even better, consumers latched onto the idea while the hospitality industry was closed and love it. In fact, according to a consumer poll from KAM Media earlier this year, awareness of the growing number of ‘hospitality at home’ options is strong among consumers; with 63% of UK adults now aware of a cook at home meal kit and 50% now aware of mix at home cocktail kits.

Further figures have also found that a significant proportion of additional customers are open to trying these options in the future; 40% of people have either bought or would consider buying a cook at home meal kit going forward. The fact that demand is likely to continue is really quite promising for our sector.

Katy Moses, managing director of KAM Media, says:

“Food delivery has certainly changed forever and is fast entering a new phase, moving from purely functional ‘feed me now’ to experiential. We know that customers are desperate to be back in our physical outlets, but that doesn’t mean they won’t still want a piece of our wonderful hospitality industry in their homes - there’s room for both offerings to co-exist and smart operators and suppliers are busy right now planning for just that.”

For hospitality, offering takeaway and delivery services could provide huge profits for your outlet. “The benefits of getting your brand into a consumer’s home, especially when they can’t come to you, is clear,” explains Moses. “Embracing delivery and other ‘hospitality at home’ options is a fantastic way to grow your brand’s reach as well as keeping previous customers engaged with your brand while you’re closed.”

From Michelin-starred meal boxes to ‘in-home experiences’, restaurants have concocted many different recipes and ideas to weather the COVID storm. Chef Adam Handling was one of the first to make fine dining into a meal kit with his ‘Hame’ selections that had been put together for various different occasions. Indian restaurant group Dishoom is another one to jump on the meal kit bandwagon with its bacon naan rolls, with profits from every meal kit sold going to the Magic Breakfast charity. Others include Honest Burgers, offering three DIY burger kits; its classic kit, a tribute kit and a plant burger option, as well as Pizza Pilgrims, adding its frying pan pizza kits to its menus. These are just a few of a very long list of innovations out there that started in lockdown but are still available now, leading the way in creating some of the best hospitality at home offers.


Hospitality Action – Chefs at Home

Industry charity Hospitality Action has also seized the opportunity and launched a ‘Chefs at Home’ cookbook. Available to pre-order, the book features a collection of 54 lockdown recipes from UK chefs including Jamie Oliver, Tom Kerridge, Raymond Blanc and Angela Hartnett. Principal patron Jason Atherton, who contributed two recipes to the book, says:

“Behind our closed doors, we all did what we do best: we cooked. And cooked. So, when Hospitality Action asked us to contribute to ‘Chefs at Home’, we had lists of recipes as long as your arm to offer up.”


Hospitality at home tips

With ‘hospitality at home’ going nowhere, how can businesses continue with this service whilst keeping their outlets running as smoothly as they used to? Here are some pointers that might help.

Adjust menus to address shifts in consumer habits

There has been a huge shift in consumer behaviour as a result of COVID-19, which is likely to stick. People are not only now ordering food at all different times of the day; they are also opting for different menu choices. Carefully consider emerging food and drink trends such as clean food or plant-based options. Make sure you adjust your eating in and takeout and delivery menus to satisfy all of these demands.

Digital presence

Make sure your digital presence is consistent throughout. The menu featured on your app and website, for example, should match those on any delivery platforms you might be using. 

Rework team rotas

Once you reopen, you will need to think about how you bring back your furloughed staff in a way that matches the restaurant’s new needs with staff’s skill set. Think about the split between your team working in the restaurant and those working on takeaway and delivery offers. 

Get customers engaged again

As well as shouting about your takeaway and delivery services, make sure you are as vocal about eating in, too. Use social media channels to communicate with loyal customers, for instance, telling them when you will be open and outlining protocols to reassure them that it is safe to visit.

Optimise delivery

With takeout and delivery now a critical part of your business, take a step back to think about how you can do things a bit better. How can you streamline processes to make the service run more efficiently? Or are you using the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly packaging? These are all things you need to consider as your outlet reopens its doors fully.

Rethink your footprint

As you reopen your doors, think about how you will incorporate a permanent delivery/takeaway area that won’t encroach too much on your kitchen and restaurant space. Again, how do you manage your kitchen staff to deal with delivery orders coming in as well as those from guests dining in

Although the second half of the year will be a challenging period for hospitality, there is a glimmer of hope. As long as the roll out of the vaccine continues and consumer confidence begins to grow, we have a bright future ahead of us.