Some days ago, I was reviewing some articles that I had written in this digital newspaper for previous years, with that conviction that the best way to understand something of the future is through deep knowledge of the past. I landed on the article, that in January of the year 2017 wrote under the title, "The Metaphor of Liquid Hospitality", it was my little tribute to the Polish philosopher and sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, who died at 91 years old and it had been a great source of inspiration in my studies and reflections.
The philosopher, through its famous "Metaphor of Liquid Modernity", described the constant instability in which society lives, increasingly changing, unstable, where nothing lasts forever, definitely, a society that had gone from solid to liquid.
With those premises, I wanted to do a parallel with the world of restaurants and gastronomy, understood from that constant transformation, certainly, it is the essence that has allowed him to overcome and improve every moment full of difficulties, obstacles and drawbacks. I rated it as the “Liquid Hospitality”.
Today, with most restaurants closed, with their owners and confined teams, and with an absolutely uncertain fate, where the main objective is not to save the business, but save life, this concept acquires its maximum expression. I don't think Bauman would have imagined it in a similar context.
The "New Normal" is understood as that post Covid moment, where nothing will change but everything will be different, and maybe the time has come to reflect on the “NEW HOTEL INDUSTRY”, paradoxes of fate, it was the name of the first company that I founded in my life.
The New Hospitality It will be more “liquid” never, because it will be changeable, complex, moving, with new contexts and customer habits, but its essence will last, people-based, the emotion, excellence and quality.
In these difficult times the sector does not have many alternatives that allow it to alleviate its difficult situation, I dare say that almost exclusively has a, the “digital vaccine”, that allows you to discover new markets and new ways of relating to your customers. The process of adapting to this new context will not be easy., as adaptation to other contexts was not in its day, but I'm also convinced, who will be able to do it in an exemplary way.
Today the technology and digitization allow us to be in contact with our families, with our friends, we laugh and cry behind the phone, and we train and inform through these devices. Techno-socialization is born, that allows that huge barrier that technology was just a few months ago, has become our great emotional ally.
But to understand this New Hospitality, some premises that are absolutely necessary must be known.
Mobility as a service changes the relationship with the client and represents a huge opportunity, because the customer goes to restaurants, but in the New Hospitality, restaurants also go to customers. It is necessary to assume at once, that today there is enough technology to connect to food through restaurants, at the time and in the place chosen, and that radically changes the traditional concept of the restaurant as creator of the context of the gastronomic experience.
Restaurants must find their new market in this context, which in many cases will be complementary and not a substitute for the usual. It will be necessary to be provided with a pendulum model that allows to continue with part of the activity in case of any eventuality that arises. Where the kitchen and living room service have to be reinvented and reformulated based on the client's emotions, but in the place where he decides to enjoy his experience.
Digital and smart pricing will be another key opportunity of this new hospitality. With the limitations that we are going to find, and with the unpredictable changes that we face, before, during and after the pandemic, Is absolutely restaurant management unfeasible without smart pricing that allows the client to contract the service that is required at each moment of consumption with different rates, exactly as it happens in any other digital service.
No more equal prices for everyone, It is one of the great barriers to the implementation of the New Hospitality, that you must set prices in digital media where the client chooses the one that best suits the service they want to hire. A distant delivery service cannot have the same price, what to pick up at the restaurant, or that the exclusive service of eating and being served in the establishment itself, that acquires its maximum value in these circumstances, But is that, inside this, can't have the same price for dinner on a Tuesday night, with many tables free, that a Saturday with maximum occupancy.
But also, it is time to implement in this new hospitality the guarantee of advance digital collection, something common in this type of services, but that the hospitality industry is taking too many years to convince itself that it must be a normal habit, just like in most digital services, that will allow the financial business to acquire a new level, another point of salvation for the sector.
With all that, the digital data will become the most important intangible asset of the New Hospitality restaurants, above any other. The value of the restaurant and the sustainability of the economic independence of the business itself will depend on the care and quality of the restaurant..
All the big digital players will want to snatch that data, They will try to do it with much affection and dissimulation, but the sector must be aware of the importance of this, and sell or share this resource to external agents, will entail absolute dependence on them.
As I constantly repeat to my students in the courses I teach at the School Diego Coquillat, the data is what allows you to know and enter your client's salon.
But all this will only be the beginning of a New Hospitality, the biggest opportunity facing the restaurant industry in its history, consisting of in feeding a population that has decided to connect through technology and digital channels to restaurants.
This crisis will cause bad restaurants to close, that good restaurants survive and that large restaurants improve thanks to their ability to adapt to changes to come out stronger with these new opportunities.
But as Bauman would say, we face a new precarious reality, changing, unstable and accelerated where the only thing that will always be stable, will be the change.
Welcome to the NEW HOSTELERÍA.