Are hospitality concepts, design and interiors changing as a result of COVID-19?

Interior Design

7th September 2020

By richard

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COVID-19 is changing the design & interior of Hospitality

01-Nathan Social Media Post

Nathan Stevenson, a Senior Interior Designer at Harrison has recently outlined his thoughts about how he believes hospitality businesses will change post-COVID-19 and we’d like to share his thoughts.

“Hospitality has already changed dramatically because of COVID, brands have had to think creatively and pivot their business models to respond to the new needs of customers whilst developing multiple revenue streams to safeguard against changing conditions.

I think this has been an eye-opener for the industry, with increasing revenue from retail products, online and delivery will become the norm.

A key point will be to make physical space work harder, with smaller footprints doing more, offering Grab n Go capabilities, smaller dining areas, Click and Collect and take away via a delivery platform.
However, this new breed of sites will need to be carefully planned (rather than retrofitted) to accommodate the multifunction uses and minimise staff levels to reduce costs.

I can see businesses changing their site strategy by opening more smaller sites over a larger geographical area to cater for increased suburban trade and delivery coverage, this was already evolving but COVID accelerate this shift.

Nathan suggests that value and simplicity will increasingly be more important for brands and customers, whether that’s the design of physical spaces or food offer. Popular brands such as Flat Iron and MOD Pizza are two recent examples.

Nathan believes we will need to be more creative to achieve more with less. So, simpler design with cleaver detailing and working with the existing features and finishes of sites.

Technology will also be more important, Wetherspoons have led the way by introducing a table ordering via an app designed to lower staff costs pre-COVID. Now ordering prior to arrival is commonplace, helping decrease dwell time but increasing customer volumes.

I think for a long time there has been to many barriers to entry for entrepreneurs to enter the hospitality sector due to the prohibitive start-up costs, high rents, high levels of competition for prime sites and large well-established brands with strong covenants.

I think one of the fallouts from COVID has been to level the playing field to a certain extent with new brands coming into the market not having the burden of financial losses from COVID and being able to negotiate more realistic rents with landlords as well as potentially being able to take on units which are already fitted out with commercial kitchens. Also, the Front of House can be changed to accommodate a new brand at a relatively small cost. David Page, Fulham Shore said recently that this was a strategy that Franco Manca would be pursuing going forward. This creates huge (well needed in my opinion) opportunities for new brands/entrepreneurs to revitalise, what has been a pretty stale market for quite some time.

Finally, an increased focus and shift to online channels will also allow entrepreneurs to build strong brands virtually, allowing them to test/refine their offer before committing to opening physical sites. We are currently working with a new client, Gallio Pizza (www.galliopizza.com) who have launched the concept via a dark kitchen in SE London to test and refine their Mediterranean menu.

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