Understanding the importance of customer connection in a post pandemic world is vital for most businesses in 2021, but for the hospitality industry it might be pretty overwhelming to know where to start. Many businesses will be gearing up to reopen and to get back to ‘normal’ come the summer, but it may not prove quite as easy as that. Your customers have experienced huge amounts of change and their needs are bound to have adjusted, what connected your audience pre Covid-19 may not have the same effect now. But how do bars, restaurants and hospitality brands tackle this, realign with their customers, and move forward successfully?
The Impacts of 2020
It’s time to invest time in your customers, their thought processes and their behaviors. How have their needs changed over the last year and how as a ‘brand’ do you respond effectively to this?
Online / Offline | After 12 months of basically no physical brand experience it’s fair to say that people are craving a sense of belonging and familiarity with the brands they invest in. The last year has forced consumers to reflect and evaluate what’s important, and consequently the priority is to share meaningful intentions and philological values with the brands they interact with both ‘online’ and ‘offline’.
Brands > Products/services | We have spent 12 months being digitally active and connecting online, but now is a crucial time for brands to really step up and provide the physical experience their customers are looking for. As discussed in our previous blog post buying from a brand is no longer just about the product or service, a customer’s whole experience is now top priority and there is huge success when this is executed mindfully through branded interior design.
Ultimately, customers hold the keys to the post covid hospitality recovery and they are vital to rebuilding and maintaining brand success in the longer term. So, exceptional and memorable customer experience (at every touchpoint) should be of utmost importance to brands throughout 2021 and beyond, especially those in hospitality! A physical brand experience is a major customer touch point and one that needs to be meaningful, considered and curated to align with your brand.
How can hospitality brands realign with their customers needs?
The last 12 months have been turbulent for many and with lots of households experiencing months of financial struggle, people will no doubt be more careful with their money moving forward. This doesn’t mean consumers won’t return to hospitality but it means they will be much more picky in their choices. A new wave of appreciation for socialising and making memories has come about, and this will be affecting people’s decision making regarding what brands they support and what hospitality environment they chose to create these long awaited memories in. How do you make sure they chose you?!
There are many things that you can do as a brand to help prepare your business for success post pandemic…
Build better culture | Reputation is going to be vital in the next 12 months so you need to get your internal and external brand culture aligned, look after your staff and customers and they will stay loyal to you. Most people have not stepped foot in a bar or restaurant for months and unsurprisingly the topic of conversation will soon revolve around where to go for drinks with friends or for a nice family meal. Word spreads fast so make sure you give your customers something to talk about. (Check out our post on brand culture @greycoffee_uk )
Build trust | Every point of customer interaction should be considered and crafted, and communication should be clear and consistent. Your customers need to hear that you are putting strategies in place to keep them safe. By demonstrating you are listening, understanding and adapting to the current climate it instinctively builds trust between your customer and brand. Additionally, when you provide full transparency as a brand it reinforces this element of trust and helps to deepen this connection with your customers.
Make Positive change | Brands don’t like to stand still, if brands don’t re evaluate and adapt NOW they will be left behind… so make positive change, provide clarity, and offer valuable experiences that your competitors don’t. Authentic Brands that make strident efforts to put their customers at the heart of everything they do, and who craft organic customer experiences, will be remembered. Authentic brands are rewarded with loyalty and with positive reputations, this is how you start to rebuild your community.
Provide a holistic experience | Food, drink and customer service are huge defining factors for your customers, but competition is tough and more than ever experience and brand interactions have the biggest influence on visitors. Creating a branded and customer focussed physical experience through an interior space requires design consideration, attention to detail and the understanding that your brand can be communicated not only by tangible brand elements but also intangible elements too.
Take a look at our Build a Brand Strategy blog post and start building a better brand with our free ‘Brand Strategy Template’
How do brands achieve customer connection through their restaurant interior?
Brand strategy is extremely valuable when crafting a commercial interior, you can achieve optimum customer connection when approaching an interior transformation from a brand perspective.
Simply revamping your commercial interior and putting your logo above the door is not enough. When the customer has ‘felt’ or truly ‘connected’ with your brand the experience leaves a lasting impression that stays with them way beyond the duration of the visit. This is what we call a branded customer experience, this impact is intentional, crafted and delivered with brand strategy and purpose.
The right company will take time to understand your brand on a granular level before embarking on interior design concepts. They will get to know your audience’s behaviour and start to craft a holistic brand strategy that can be carried out across all brand touch points, including the interior. A restaurant space has the potential to engage and impact customers much more than the cuisine and this is why highly branded interiors should not be underestimated within the restaurant and hospitality scene. Creating a one of a kind experience for your customers is all about using brand as the foundation for telling your story through your interior space.
In the unpredictable times ahead, it’s important to position your hospitality business for success. It’s going to become more important that bars and restaurants in particular invest in their ‘brand’ to ensure they have the best foundations and brand strategy to bounce back in 2021. Brand interior design can transform hospitality brands to strategically position their business for growth, creating authentic brand experiences will engage and ultimately connect with more customers on a deeper level.