Hospitality: Accelerating out of Lockdown

Fast forward to Summer 2021. It’s time to flip the 'closed' sign to 'open' and welcome back your customers, in what will be a new era of hospitality.

But how can you best prepare yourself now, for success later this year?


Colin Morrison, Group Director of Marketing & Innovation

We’ve all heard countless theories on what to expect in the ‘new normal’ and how hospitality may be changed forever. But does anyone actually know? Are the experiences of this past year really likely to play a part in our future reality, or are these simply short-lived trends that will soon be a distant memory?

To give you one example, the pent-up desire to return to our previous world has created an explosion of restaurant reservations and holiday bookings. Only this week I attempted to arrange a family meal on Saturday 22nd May. After five attempts I finally found a restaurant that wasn't already fully booked.

Under the new roadmap out of this pandemic, we may be allowed into cafes and restaurants before we can mix at home. This provides hospitality with a fantastic opportunity to host longed-for reunions and overdue celebrations. As an industry, we can be optimistic for a boom in summer trade - as our social lives return.

Speaking to several younger family members, it's clear they are eager to get back to their school or college communities. I get a strong sense that hospitality will play a major part in how the next generation live their lives, and suspect some of the huge growth trends we’re seeing in the home market will decline.

That said, understanding some of the consumer behaviours and attitudes that were formed during the pandemic, may be key to the future success of hospitality businesses. Looking closely at what people have been doing in the kitchen at home, and how their attitudes to food and drink may have changed, will help us identify new opportunities for success.

As a nation, we’ve been challenging ourselves to recreate our favourite recipes, cakes and beverages from our beloved cafes and restaurants. Topping Google recipe search charts are sourdough, banana bread and Dalgona coffee. At home, we’ve learnt more than ever about the ingredients, preparation methods and tastes we expect. Many of us have also taken the time to source sustainable and traceable products. In fact, organic food and drink sales have doubled in comparison to the rate of non-organic equivalents.

Online coffee sales have enjoyed a particular surge this last year. In the absence of their local cafes, consumers have invested in better home brewing equipment and made a record number of online coffee purchases. Roasters have enjoyed the opportunity to offer high-quality, traceable coffees directly to consumers and to engage them with compelling sourcing stories and brewing tips. I believe there is a high chance that when customers return to cafes, their expectations will have shifted upwards.

My point here is that whilst long-term planning is great. We have a short period of time to welcome customers back and remind them why out-of-home hospitality is so special. In preparing for our much-anticipated return, we must reassert our emphasis on customer service, team knowledge, and the quality of the serve. Hospitality customers will return….but they will do so with more knowledge and expectation than ever before.

Old favourites will undoubtedly be ordered, yes, but I have a feeling many customers will be looking to see what’s new. If their heightened quality expectations are not being met in their regular cafe, they may quickly look elsewhere.

In short, my advice for cafes re-opening, is to focus on quality service, keep favourites on the menu but add one better, and go all out to show people exactly what they’ve been missing.

Colin Morrison

Marketing & Innovation Director

Colin has worked within the coffee industry for 14 years. He began working with the Matthew Algie team at the start of 2020 and has a true passion to create new brands, products and business models to support customers. He has been keen to not let covid slow any progress for our Matthew Algie brand.

Most recently he has completed a Digital leadership qualification and sees brand and customer experience as one. Understanding the digital impact has and can help shape and grow coffee businesses.

He is excited by change and adopts an approach of ‘let’s make it happen and analyse after’.”