The much-awaited return to pub gardens is happening this month and hotels and other hospitality venues will reopen in May, but it will take a considerable length of time for these hard-hit businesses to overcome the unique challenges that the Coronavirus pandemic has dealt them. The success or failure of hospitality operators will likely depend on how they can respond to the changing trends of the industry in the year to come.

Outdoor space

The public has become much more familiar with holding its social life outside lately and pub-goers and hotel-stayers will be looking to establishments that make the most of their outside areas, whether for meetings, exercise, coffee or meals out. Operators that offer an excellent outdoor experience are in fact already seeing an upturn in spring bookings.

However, after such a hard year, many pubs simply don’t have the funds to invest heavily in this risky area when the British weather in April is less than reliable. To help a little, the government announced that pubs are able to put up marquees and gazebos for the whole summer without planning permission, rather than the previous 28-day limit. The type of outdoor enclosures needs to be carefully considered though, as shelters must not be wholly or substantially enclosed, so some pods and enclosures with doors and windows fall outside the specification for 2021.

With the relief on business rates due to end in June, there isn’t much time for the hospitality sector to get back on its feet before costs increase again but there may be more funding available as Councils were given £56 million to boost tourism and provide outdoor seating, markets and food pop-ups. Of course, many pubs, especially in urban areas, have no space for outdoor seating so may rely on their council opening up more on-street opportunities.

Flexible booking

As well as being creative with their outdoor space, hospitality venues may also need to up the ante on touchless technology and offer no cancellation fees or full refunds to respond to weather-related cancellations. A flexible cancellation policy provides vital peace of mind for customers as they start to spend their money again.

Minimising touchpoints is also a way to build confidence with customers so there is likely to be a continuation of the use of mobile apps and QR codes to reduce the need for physical contact with staff. Using mobile technology to control check-in/out, room keys and even room facilities allows operators to gather data from guests and offer a more personalised experience in the future.

Customer expectations

With many people having to reduce their social and holiday spending in 2021, many customers will be expecting low cost but high-value experiences. They will also be looking for a safe and healthy visit with extended hygiene policies in force. Offering flexible booking options, enhanced outdoor facilities, mobile technology and peace-of-mind hygiene are all opportunities to distinguish your establishment from your competition.

With specialist knowledge and experience in accountancy for the hospitality and leisure sector, the team at CRM understands the immense pressures that the industry is facing right now and into the medium and long-term.

Coronavirus has created a unique set of challenges that have pushed many operators to the limit but with CRM, help is on hand to lift some of the financial burden. An expert in the field can help to simplify the processes and highlight areas of assistance you might have missed while trying to stay afloat. Good accounting practices give you an accurate understanding of cash flow and transactions, to be able to plan and allocate resources where they are needed at the most pressured times.

If you would like to discuss how we could support your hospitality business, please call Noel Heaven, our hospitality specialist on 01865 379272.

Sage Accountant Partner Logoiris kashflowFreeagent