The pandemic era was a time of constant change for practically all restaurant operators. (Representational image | DC)
The restaurant industry, which contributes about 3% of India's GDP and employs 7.3 million people, is one of the key components of the country's service sector, according to the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI). Given the importance of the restaurant industry in the Indian economy, just imagining the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on the industry and the economy as a whole is dreadful. The pandemic era was a time of constant change for practically all restaurant operators. With the majority of restaurants forced to close and people confined to their homes, the industry on the whole went through several challenges and major transformations.
However, the crisis prompted the restaurant industry to adopt distinctive and cutting-edge strategies in order to draw customers back after the Covid-19 era. In the immediate aftermath of the pandemic, which was initially viewed as an impending catastrophe, restaurants witnessed a radical transformation. Various novel concepts such as contactless dining, delivery applications, digital signages and quick service restaurants, amongst others, came into being, which served as a turning point for restaurants in winning customers back.
Trends surfacing restaurant industry
Contactless services: With social distancing gaining traction and individuals becoming more health conscious, restaurants were forced to abandon their traditional customer service methods. Here, contactless services came into being, providing consumers with the opportunity to place orders without getting in contact with restaurant staff. All you need to do is scan a QR code, access the digital menu on your smart device and place the order without an intermediate intervention. According to PRIME (POSist Restaurant Industry & Market Evolution) Report estimates, over one-third of eateries in India, are actively employing QR code ordering technology after the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, this trend drew customers back to restaurants by promising them a fine-dining experience while simultaneously sparing them from unnecessary interaction.
Delivery apps: Given the change in food consumption habits of individuals in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic, online food delivery has attained center stage. A Statista survey found that due to the convenience that food delivery applications provide, about 51% of respondents aged between 16 and 24 and 72% of respondents over the age of 55 said they would continue to order food online after the coronavirus pandemic as well. In response to the rising demand for delivery applications, even the high-end restaurants that exclusively offered dine-in services moved to online delivery in order to make their food offerings more widely available.
Expanding spaces: In light of the shifting consumer demands for limited interaction and contact, it led upon restaurants with small enclosed spaces to expand or create additional outdoor areas. Therefore, in order to provide customers with more breathing room, several restaurants moved to external or roof spaces to build alluring city-view terraces or open-sky dinners for people to have an improved dining experience.
Restaurant industry: What lies ahead?
Although Covid-19 pandemic did pose a whole lot of challenges for the restaurant industry, it also proved to be a game-changer. The advent of new trends and strategies gave restaurant owners improved opportunities to provide customers with a whole new dining experience, whether it is from the restaurant or the comfort of their homes. Going ahead, the restaurant industry is poised to witness more such new trends as a result of developing technologies, giving them the ability to target improved consumer experiences.
The article is authored by Prateek Chaudhary, Managing partner at Diablo club, Dragonfly Experience & One8 Commune Delhi