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Virtual company dinners and other initiatives; restaurants reinvent Christmas

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00Fighting pandemic takes us towards a most atypical Christmas. Traditional Christmas dinners are in question. Neither families nor companies know with certainty if they can be held normally.

Most likely, harsh limitations are in place, like those recently announced by the minister of health. It remains to be seen if the Constitution bridge will bring with it a rebound in cases, and if such a hypothetical rebound will require a tightening of anti-COVID-19 measures.

In any case the hospitality sector has got down to work to make company dinners a reality this 2020. They will not be identical to those of previous years. However, what is really important is that they are celebrated and this very beneficial tradition is not lost.

Alternatives to traditional company dinners

There is no doubt that company dinners in times of pandemic cannot break the recommendations for social distancing and current capacity restrictions. Thus, It is not feasible for them to be developed in a physical and face-to-face way one hundred percent.

Again, the digitization and technology help the sector. It is 2020 the dining rooms of our restaurants will remain practically empty during key dates of Christmas. Nevertheless, This does not mean that professionals in the sector have to sacrifice their business on these very important days of the calendar.

Business dinners represent a one-off increase in income for many restaurants of up to 50%. This additional business volume is a fundamental pillar to guarantee the good economic performance of the premises throughout the year. Dispensing with these revenues is not a possibility in an exercise that has been disastrous for the sector.

The following graph shows the enormous trend that the words represented “Company dinner” in the year 2019 in Spain, reaching its annual maximum in the middle of December:

Therefore, restaurants have launched digital initiatives to replace or continue to provide this service in another way. Virtual company dinners are on everyone's lips at the moment. The basic idea is use a computer video conferencing system to share a dinner with co-workers. A) Yes, companies have chosen to relocate the restaurant in the homes of their employees or distribute the staff in several interconnected restaurants.

The details of each specific initiative vary. They comprise a huge range of possibilities from which the company management can choose the one that best suits their needs.

Let's see what large companies in the sector such as home delivery companies are doing Glovo Y Catevering, the restaurant awarded with two Michelin stars Shell, the ubiquitous burger joint McDonald’s and others.

He delivery and the revolution of virtual company dinners

Glovo, the famous delivery company, is making it very easy for entrepreneurs. A) Yes, they will have no excuse if they want retain your workers. Valuing the people who make up the workforce in these difficult times that we have lived through is as easy as accessing the app from the delivery company.

At Glovo they have made sure that organizing a virtual company dinner is extremely simple. You just have to choose a menu format according to the available budget. By default, the organizer can choose a simple menu, medium or luxury. The price will be 30, 50 O 70 euros respectively.

Then the number of participants in the virtual dinner will be indicated, the postal addresses where the dishes will be delivered, as well as the date and time of delivery. At the same time that all this is specified, Glovo takes care of the rest.

The department in charge of organizing the event would only need to establish a communication channel so that employees can converse with each other from their homes. To this end Zoom Y Skype are the most requested tools.

The process is not much more complicated from the perspective of the diners. They just have to enter a code in the app Glovo mobile to confirm your attendance.

For the moment Glovo already has 20 gastronomic offers of the most varied. But it is foreseeable that more collaborators will join at the last minute. Among the most recognized restaurants that have been encouraged to participate in this interesting initiative is the GoXO by David Muñoz. A virtual company dinner with haute cuisine is a real possibility by having Glovo this Christmas.

Of course, Glovo is not the only brand that is offering these types of services. The emerging company Catevering, a promising start-up Spanish, has joined this trend of virtual dinners for companies with a package specifically designed to carry out a digital toast.

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His approach to the problem is very different, However. Since its market penetration is not as deep as in the case of Glovo, they have not been able to turn to a network of hospitality partners to serve their customers. Instead offer a hybrid between the traditional Christmas basket and the delivery that is revolutionizing the sector.

The company prepares lunch boxes that contain products that can not be missing in our homes on Christmas dates. Sweets like polvorones, mazapanes, nougat and others. Iberian sausages, cured meats and Manchego cheese ... And drinks with which to raise a full glass and toast a 2021 best: cavas, wines, champagnes and other spirits.

Then it is at the discretion of the organizing company to specify when the virtual meeting is held and what software is used to celebrate this virtual company dinner with a lighter touch.

Upscale and fast-food restaurants support virtual dining alike

On other occasions, the restaurants themselves are looking for alternatives. It is the case Shell, by Mario Sandoval. This award-winning restaurant 2 Michelin stars has launched the QARD gift card.

It is specially designed for companies to entertain their workers. Those who receive one of these cards as a gift should know that they are redeemable for an individual meal in the restaurant or a menu to be enjoyed in the comfort of home to be dispatched through a home delivery company.

further, Sandoval participates with another of its restaurants, Flirtatious, in the initiative of Glovo previously treated.

Industry is quickly adapting to these tumultuous times. Therefore, it is not surprising that in organized restaurants there are also those who have opted for virtual dinners. In this case we speak neither more nor less than McDonald’s, Ronald the clown's burger joint.

The foundation that represents in Spain Ronald McDonald House Charities, a non-profit organization associated with McDonald’s, launched last day 10 a Virtual Charity Dinner to raise funds with which to pay for the charitable actions of the Ronald McDonald Children's Foundation.

These actions include the Ronald McDonald Houses near the Vall d'Hebron Hospital in Barcelona, to the Maternal and Child Hospital of Malaga, the New Hospital La Fe in Valencia and the Hospital Infantil Universitario Niño Jesús in Madrid, designed to house seriously ill children; as well as the Ronald McDonald Family Rooms, that give shelter to the relatives of said children for the duration of the hospitalization of the minors if they have moved far from their habitual residence.

Attendees were able to enjoy the menu prepared by the catering Sixsens by Cari Goyanes for 35 €, entirely intended for charity. The participants received in their homes the dishes prepared thanks to the logistical work of SEUR, who through its SEUR Cold service and the application of IoT technologies guaranteed in real time the traceability of the cold chain in the transport of food.

Giveaways, presentations via digital channels and magic shows broadcast on streaming they closed a unique evening that gives continuity to the beautiful project of the Ronald McDonald Children's Foundation.

An advertising campaign for restaurants to save Christmas in the midst of the coronavirus crisis

Even advertising agencies have joined the virtual company dinner revolution. Through a campaign titled "Connected Tables", the famous agency Shackleton support the hospitality industry this Christmas by offering a simple system to enjoy unlimited banquets.

The ingenious idea is chain tables belonging to different restaurants using computer equipment equipped with camera, then linked through a video conferencing program. In this way, a larger table is digitally recreated, always respecting the limit imposed on the meetings of people not living together in this second wave.

People participating in the virtual company dinner (or family banquet) are divided into groups of six. Each of these groups makes a reservation at a different restaurant. Then they place and connect the necessary computers. And There you go, the system is working.

To increase the likelihood of the experience, it is advisable that the tables be of similar dimensions, the tablecloths look the same color, the menu is the same and the staff wear the same uniform. It is not always possible to get a perfect recreation, but companies are in a position to negotiate such details.

With the protocol exposed in «Connected tables» it is intended to preserve a typically Christmas annual event, support the hospitality industry, and to do so while observing each and every one of the public health requirements.

The coronavirus does not have to destroy our dreams of a conventional Christmas. To prove, those in charge of the agency achieved last day 24 November that more of 180 people distributed in restaurants in Madrid, Barcelona and Santiago de Chile, enjoy a virtual joint dinner, as illustrated in Shackleton's spot, no problem.

How was such a milestone achieved? The creative director of the agency points out the following: «Creativity has to do with finding new ways of doing things and technology is a tool that makes it possible for these things to happen. With this idea we have tried to combine both forces so that something as important as that people can meet and enjoy without risks and at the same time help the hospitality industry that is being especially punished by the pandemic happens ».

In conclusion

Virtual company dinners are positioned as a interesting alternative for the future. Apart from being a strict necessity during this Christmas mired in the coronavirus crisis, this type of event opens the door to new lines of business.

digitization of these meetings allows to offer unique experiences such as the use of avatars, the combination of dinner and show, or the delivery of virtual gifts.

These same concepts are applicable in spaces that transcend the pandemic. Scenarios such as families divided by emigration, Distance personal or professional relationships and the like could be a niche to be explored by restaurants that support the onslaught of SARS-CoV-2.

About the Author

Article by the editorial team of DiegoCoquillat.com. It has professionals both in the field of hospitality, gastronomy and tourism, and new technologies and innovation.

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