We imagine what the world would look like if other industries went through as little innovation as hospitality…
2011 feels like a lifetime ago. Barack Obama was still just getting started as President, the Blackberry was the most popular phone on the market and a now relatively well-known show called Game of Thrones had just premiered on TV.
The way we lived our lives on an individual level was also drastically different — after all, plenty of the services we rely on so heavily today were yet to make a name for themselves a decade ago.
WhatsApp was an infantry one year old, with its vision of an application overtaking the tried and tested text message resembling something of a pipe dream.
Even more absurdly, Netflix was still known as a subscription service — just not the one we know today. Customers paid to receive DVD’s through their letterboxes on a weekly basis in what now feels like a medieval approach to watching movies.
Online opportunities for instant gratification were also few and far between. Hungry diners craving Wagamama’s without being willing to leave the comfort of their own home would have been left disappointed, whilst those searching for love — or a quick fling — would have to hit the streets in favour of merely swiping right on a screen.
When you needed to travel back home late at night, you’d have to ring a mini-cab company and wait for them to send someone to pick you up — or pray that a black cab passed you by.
Customers in mainland Europe and Canada still hadn’t heard of Amazon, whilst Prime boasted that it could deliver in up to three days — a snail’s pace compared with the recent introduction of same day delivery.
The social media industry was also unrecognisable. MySpace and Bebo were still going strong, whilst Instagram was still a fairly unknown entity after it’s launch in late 2010. President Obama hadn’t even signed up to Instagram by 2011, yet the banning of former president Donald Trump from social media sites was seen by many to represent the end of his time in power.
It’s almost impossible not to notice the glut of change that has taken place across a number of industries during the last decade.
Ground-breaking innovation and technological possibilities have ensured that both our lives and the services we use have developed faster than ever before.
But what is the point of me telling you all this, and what does it have to do with hospitality?
The reason is that the most successful businesses over the last ten years have been those that were willing to not only adapt, but spearhead a technological revolution. As a result, any concept, service or idea that rests on its laurels is now more likely to flounder than ever before.
And that is exactly why hospitality finds itself in so much trouble right now. Try to picture what your local high street would look like if you could travel ten years back in time. I wouldn’t be surprised if it looked pretty much the same back in early March 2020, before the pandemic forced hospitality businesses to close their doors.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.Albert Einstein
Of course, certain aspects of the hospitality experience have changed — you can find WiFi in stores, you are able to review an experience on TripAdvisor, and are increasingly likely to avoid cash in favour of contactless payment.
Yet despite the odd change here and there, the overall experience is not exactly unrecognisable compared to what it was a decade ago — and any changes that have been enacted could have occurred over a matter of months.
This lack of development means it cannot be considered a surprise that hospitality has struggled to compete with delivery services and online retailers, who continue to renovate and make use of new technologies at a startling pace. Worryingly, this trend long-preceded the pandemic. Back in the seemingly calm year of 2018, the number of jobs lost across the casual dining sector rose by 8%.
If anything, hospitality has changed more in the last few months than it had in the decade previously — proving that is more than capable of adaptation. Just look at the way the industry was able to shift its operation rapidly to ensure it complied with government Covid protocols. With minimal notice, hospitality businesses were able to introduce online menus, step up sanitation efforts, and start to offer DIY at home packs when a second national lockdown was introduced.
This process of innovation must continue once the pandemic is over. In order to survive, the hospitality industry needs to be open to doing things differently, like it has been over the last few months in order to survive.
That doesn’t mean ripping up the rulebook, or disregarding the things you do that make your business operation a joy for customers. Instead, it means treading your model like a mobile app: one that needs minor adjustments and bug fixes to ensure business runs as smoothly as possible.
If something doesn’t work for you, don’t just accept it as a necessary burden. At Stint, we’ve watched with frustration as hospitality businesses have had to reckon with the same staffing issues for years,and we present a solution to change the situation.
Granted, not all changes will go smoothly. But the businesses and industries who recognise that, when the time has come, doing things a little differently could prove advantageous, and enable them to get ahead of their competitors.
Ultimately, we want hospitality to be an industry where change is relished, rather than avoided. As in the words of Albert Einstein, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”
If we’ve convinced you that the time has come for you to consider making a change or two, contact us to book a demo with a member of our friendly team, who will be able to explain how Stint can make a major difference to your P&L.