We spoke with a senior communications specialist at Michelson Alexander and worked internally to come up with a game plan for COVID-19 for hospitality businesses.

As you have noticed, trade is now declining. This is expected to continue.

The good news:

  • International travel is going to decrease dramatically this year, more people will holiday domestically and people eat out more when holidaying
  • Brands and venues that adapt now are going to be in a great position with customer loyalty

What Eight Clients can do now for our clients and new clients:

  • If you need a contra deal with us, we work something out
  • If you need extended payment terms, we can help with that too

Offers that work now in hospitality:

  • Limited time offers
  • New menu items available for X weeks
  • More of a focus on specials in marketing
  • Occasional dining specials, people will still go out for birthdays and occasions
  • One restaurant in Hong Kong has adapted and installed barriers to prevent spreading, seems crazy now

Best things to do in a recession or downturn:

Keep on marketing, now obviously I would say that it’s also backed up by a lot of data, check out this article in Forbes. Most larger entities are ramping up marketing at this time as airwaves are less crowded. This is a big opportunity for us to win market share.

In a recession, spending on eating out at high-end venues can decline, filling up the middle of the market. Big birthday celebration? People will go to a mid-price-tier venue instead. This is a big opportunity. “That’s where I had my birthday” – is a very strong emotional connection with a venue which leads to repeat business. Bars and alcohol spend can also increase in a downturn. New opportunities can also arise, you can now unlock your devices with a surgical mask that looks just like you.

Consider a holding statement (advice from communications firm Michael Alexander)

You need to do more than rely on your industry peak body to take the lead.

Even if your venue is not yet directly affected, a statement may help minimise negative commercial effects down the track.

A first, low-cost step might be issuing a neutral statement containing the following broad points:

  • Express sympathy for everyone affected by this human tragedy;
  • You have put active monitoring in place;
  • You will do everything possible to help those affected; and
  • You will keep customers, employees and stakeholders informed as you know more.

Reassure staff

Communicating to staff is most important, especially in smaller teams. Alleviate fears by showing you are handling the situation.

Call a staff meeting to discuss how you are addressing the potential effects — sooner rather than later.

The tone is important — your communications should be decisive but not panicked. Project calm and confidence.

To show you are thinking ahead, you might announce to the team:

  • Daily cleaning of the office to reduce the risk of injection;
  • A new remote work policy for non-floor staff; and
  • A new leave policy for staff without leave entitlements.

These are just some ideas! Please talk to me if you have any concerns, questions or just want to say hello. 

Need some help? See our Industry Hospitality Brainstorming Lunch in Melbourne