Five tips to transform hotel restaurants into food delivery service

Conor McCarthy Conor McCarthy Uploaded

Conor McCarthy, CEO and co-founder of Flipdish, outlines his five top tips for hotels to transform their restaurants into takeaway food delivery services.

Almost two weeks ago, the Chancellor of the Exchequer relaxed planning rules to enable hotels, pubs and restaurants to operate as takeaways during the Covid-19 outbreak. In that time hundreds of establishments across the UK have rushed to set up make-shift food delivery services in order to support their local communities and mitigate some of the damage that the virus’s spread has caused the hospitality sector.

In the last few days, we have also seen an increase in the number of hotels that have approached us and asked for help to quickly set up a digital ordering service. Although there are unique challenges for hoteliers that are looking to adapt tried and tested business models overnight, setting up a takeaway service isn’t as daunting as it might initially sound. Here are my five top tips:

1. Embrace social

Your first job is getting the word out. Use all of the ‘owned channels’ that are available to you in order to promote the new service within the community. Your Google listing, website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages can all help to generate word of mouth recommendations across different age groups. If you don’t have many followers, then consider spending a small amount - £500 or so – on some paid social media to drive additional awareness.

2. Go digital, quickly

Once people know about your service, it’s tempting to default to the systems and processes that you are most comfortable with. The most obvious is taking orders via telephone. Although on the face of it this feels like a ‘no-brainer’, in reality it usually ties up a staff member for the whole shift as well as frustrating customers that are waiting on hold. There are partners out there that can build you a new website or use your existing one to quickly implement an online ordering infrastructure, enabling everyone to focus on preparing and delivering delicious food.

3. Beware of the marketplaces

Although it is tempting to sign up with a big food delivery marketplace like Just Eat or Deliveroo, you might well be swapping a small, short-term challenge for a much bigger, medium-term one. These marketplaces have a reputation for sizeable commission fees as well as forcibly interrupting your direct relationship with customers. Although that might feel academic right now, it won’t in a few months’ time when the country starts to recover.

4. Staff dynamically

With staff absenteeism likely at a record high as your employees fall ill and/or self-isolate, now is the time to think creatively and imaginatively about your staffing mix. Who on the reception team could triage inbound orders for the kitchen team? Can a member of the cleaning staff double-up as a food delivery driver for the next few weeks? Also, are there hourly-workers that you can continue paying during this crisis by giving them a role in the takeaway operation? They and their families will appreciate every hour of work you can send their way during this challenging time.

5. End-to-end hygiene

Any hotel worthy of its name already has robust hygiene systems and processes in place, but pivoting to takeaway delivery will put an additional strain on them. Once you’re in the delivery business, hygiene no longer stops at the hotel door, it extends right to the customer’s doorstep. Make it clear to anyone responsible for deliveries that frequent hand-washing and use of face masks are non-negotiable. Ensure your drivers are offering contactless delivery as standard and are observing the government’s two-metre rule.

Right now it is difficult to know what the future holds for the sector post-Covid-19. However, if your hotel seizes the opportunity and successfully implements a delivery service in the coming weeks it has the potential to act as a lucrative future revenue source. In fact, we've seen some of our restaurant partners make such a success of pivoting to delivery that their weekly turnover is actually increasing compared to dine-in only. In addition, it can also act as a way of extending your hotel’s brand out into the wider community, boosting your profile and reputation.

Flipdish is a company that helps independent eateries and food businesses build its brand, increase customer loyalty, and enhance online sales. 


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