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What Permanent Changes Can We Expect as a Result of the Pandemic?


People tend to forget. As the world is finally moving out of the pandemic, will people quickly forget their experience in the last three years? Surely, we will leave the masks and social distancing behind, but a few of those changes due to the pandemic will most likely stay with us in the post-pandemic era. 
 
Off-premises services will stay essential but with a slower growth pace
 
Off-premises services, such as curbside pickup, delivery, and grab-n-go, are not new. Still, when the pandemic hit, many consumers were forced to try curbside pickup or delivery services for the first time. Off-premises service also became the only distribution channel available for restaurants. It did not take long for consumers to fall in love with curbside pickup and delivery services. Restaurants like it, too. Many have rolled out new store designs to embrace the off-premises dining trend, as suggested in my earlier discussion. 
 
A recent big data report (Beltrani, 2022), however, showed that off-premises orders only increased 9% from the pre-pandemic levels as a share of all restaurant orders. Moreover, customers’ overall experiences with off-premises services seemed to be significantly lower than dine-in. When more restaurants resume normal dine-in services, off-premises sales are unlikely to maintain a high growth rate unless we find ways to narrow the satisfaction gaps between those two services.    
 
Labor shortage and enhanced consumer experience are fueling innovation
 
The hospitality industry is resilient to challenges and strives to innovate. During the pandemic, the continuous labor shortage and shifting consumer demands for enhanced experience have pushed restaurants to streamline their operations. More food service providers introduced new automatic services in both back- and front-of-the-house operations, such as conveyor belts for cooking/delivery, robotic cook, and auto-response messages empowered by AI. Smooth human-machine interactions among workers and consumers will become even more critical for businesses to win employee and customer loyalty. 
 
Do you also see those changes coming? What else do you anticipate seeing after the pandemic? 
 
References:
 
Beltrani, A. (2022, November 18). What a billion data points reveal about the restaurant industry. QSR Magazine. Available at 

https://www.qsrmagazine.com/outside-insights/what-billion-data-points-reveal-about-restaurant-industry


Note: This article was also published in Hospitality News Magazine

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