While hospitality has been unable to welcome customers to dine in their venues, many have found innovative new ways to take the hospitality experience into their customers’ homes. Even as venues re-open demand from consumers for multi-channel hospitality remains strong. Katy Moses, MD at KAM suggests that from now on hospitality needs to think about serving their customers at two very different tables; in venue and in their homes.

A Tale of Two Tables

“One of the bonuses of lockdown #27 or whatever we’re coming out of now, is that I decided to treat myself and Mr Katy to a restaurant meal kit once a week, every week until hospitality reopens. I’ve really enjoyed the deliveries I’ve had so far (Cote, Aktar at home, Pasta Evangelists, Pizza pilgrims, Hakkasan, Peach at Home, Hawksmoor- the list goes on), and as time ticks on, a new habit has been formed in the Moses household, Friday night is ‘meal kit night’. I don’t see that changing any time soon and I’m not alone.

9-in-10 consumers want the hospitality brands that they’ve had in their homes during lockdowns to continue offering these ‘at home’ solutions even when restrictions lift, according to new research KAM carried out in partnership with eCommerce platform Slerp.

(You can download a full copy of the research here or sign up to receive our weekly consumer trends email to your inbox.)

And if they don’t already, 62% of UK adults want their favourite restaurant brands to start selling ‘cook at home’ meal boxes nationwide. In fact 11.5 million UK adults (22%) have ordered a ‘cook at home’ meal box in the last 12 months, with an even larger proportion (40%) intending to purchase in the future.

Operators need to adapt to multi-channel hospitality

So yes, we’ve heard it all before that the ‘at-home hospitality’ trend isn’t going anywhere, but what’s important to highlight is that operators will need to adapt and evolve the offer as we move quickly into a new phase of socialising.

That means that where consumers may have been forgiving of kinks in new delivery services during initial lockdowns, brands now really need to up their game. Competition is already pretty fierce and now is the time for operators to cement their brand as a ‘go to’ for their target customers and/or target ‘dine at home’ occasions.

Where consumers may have been forgiving of kinks in new delivery services during initial lockdowns, brands now really need to up their game.

The great news is that all indications point to the summer of 2021 being the ‘summer of socialising’, assuming restrictions allow. Fingers crossed. UK adults are so happy to finally meet up with friends and family that a larger than normal amount of entertaining ‘at home’ is predicted; 36% said they will have friends/family over more often vs pre-pandemic.

For example, 41% of UK adults said they are planning on having picnics with friends and family, 31% are planning garden parties and 39% will invite friends and family for BBQs. Just so as to re-assure all the operators reading this, 60% intend to visit a pub or restaurant too!

A new era of at-home hospitality

All this points towards a new era of ‘hospitality’ which is really now a story of two tables: operators need to think about serving their customers at two very different venues; in their pubs and restaurants and also in their homes.

The research suggests that the next phase of ‘at-home hospitality’ solutions will need to move from a purely functional transaction to an experiential one, with operators thinking beyond the food they offer and considering the total experience as well as offering solutions for different occasions.

There is a clear demand from consumers for ‘at-home hospitality’ experiences for a range of special celebrations for example, with 43% saying they would buy an ‘at home meal box’ when celebrating an adults birthday party at home. 23% say the same for Valentine’s Day and 22% for children’s birthday celebrations.

A move from functional to experiential

Forward-thinking operators are not only providing quality food to eat at home but offer the entire experience including branded packaging, drinks pairings and even tableware and playlists. Operators really need to think of each ‘at-home’ delivery as a gift arriving on their customer’s doorstep. It is an extension of their brand and everything about the delivery, packaging, and yes of course the food and drink impacts how they experience the brand.

Operators need to view multi-channel hospitality as an incredibly exciting new opportunity. Over the last 14 months we’ve proven, as an industry, that we are flexible and adaptable- but businesses will also have to understand and execute the new logistical challenges and also different marketing challenges involved. A mindset change is just the start.

Chris Galvin, co-owner of Galvin La Chapelle and now Galvin at Home, recently talked about their experience: “We’ve become experts in logistics, in deliveries, in production. We need to be smart and ensure we keep the Galvin high standards.” But he also feels,

“we have had the opportunity to connect directly with thousands of guests in a way we could have never before dreamt possible. The ability to bring a restaurant experience into people’s homes is something we want to continue.” Chris Galvin, Galvin At Home

During a recent chat with JP Then, founder of Crosstown and also now eCommerce platform Slerp, he mentioned;

“the benefits of selling a ‘dine at home’ solution direct online is clear. Not only can it help operators navigate reopening by combatting no-shows and encouraging business during off-peak hours, but it creates additional revenue from assets you already have. In hospitality, experience is everything. Now more than ever, you need your online offering to mirror your offline experience.”

And here lies the key. The demand for ‘at-home hospitality’ solutions remains strong, that we know. But operators need to think beyond the “feed me now” need and more from a functional solution to an experiential one. And that includes the ordering process. Whether you’re serving your customers in your venues or in their own homes (or their gardens!), experience is everything.

If you haven’t already seriously considered the potential of selling online, expanding your geographical reach, connecting with new types of customers for different occasions, and taking your beloved brand directly into your customers’ own homes, then it should be firmly on your ‘to do’ list for 2021. Consumers are forming new habits and multi-channel hospitality is (finally) heading their way.”

Katy Moses, MD, KAM Media

You can download a full copy of the research here or sign up to receive our weekly consumer trends email to your inbox.