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July 27, 2020

The COVID–19 crisis upended our daily lives at a dizzying speed and the resulting global lockdown has dramatically affected consumer behaviour. Restaurants, hotels, casinos, and sporting venues have stood empty for months, as Canada’s hospitality sector has been one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus.

 

Launched today, Deloitte’s report, called The future of hospitality, explores how the Canadian hospitality sector will have to reinvent and adapt to survive with safety as the number one priority for Canadian consumers, who are seeking a stress-free experience and consistency in health and safety protocols.

 

Deloitte has recognized four key consumer driven trends, which will reshape the hospitality sector now during stages of the reopening of the economy and for the post-pandemic world.

 

Trust will be essential

Canadians will remember the companies that paid attention and took care of them. Businesses must be transparent and communicate the steps taken to keep customers and employees safe and demonstrate how they’re living up to those commitments at every point of interaction. The COVID-19 crisis has seen rapid acceleration of technology, offering a launch pad for hospitality businesses to embrace and offer digital technologies to their customers. With only one in three (34 percent) Canadians feeling safe going to a restaurant, the importance of technology such as self-check-ins, app-based services, and augmented or virtual reality is vital for survival.

 

Reimagine and reinvent the customer experience

Having a pulse on consumers’ changing behaviours will be crucial for the hospitality sector’s ability to uncover opportunities to recover and thrive. With merely 15 percent of Canadian consumers saying they feel safe attending in-person events and only about 3 in 10 (29 percent) feeling safe staying in a hotel, consumers expect more from the sector and are unwilling to make sacrifices when it comes to health and safety. Hotels must reinvent in order to own the staycation space and rebuild the sector by targeting close-to-home tourists.

 

Re-evaluating the priority list

The COVID-19 crisis seems to have prompted Canadian consumers to re-evaluate their overall spending priorities, with pre-pandemic must-haves now seen as nice-to-haves—at best. According to Deloitte’s State of the Consumer Tracker, over the next four weeks Canadian consumers expect to spend about half (51 percent) as much on travel, 15 percent less on restaurants and takeout, and 14 percent less on entertainment compared to the previous four weeks.

 

A recovery like no other

Hospitality businesses will need to manage the operational realities of the new normal by investing in technology, building a more agile workforce and identifying new sources of supply for the products or services their customers rely on. From smart phone apps and non-invasive thermal scanning tools to promote safety and alleviate operational burdens – technology will play a pivotal role in the survival of the hospitality sector in adapting to consumer behaviour changes and demands.