Web Design London
06 / 03 / 2021

How Event Caterers Were Affected In 2020 and How to Move Forward

The pandemic affected every industry. Everyone quickly tried to adapt and a digital transformation began all over the world. Every industry took a hit but some of them were more affected than others. Anything that depended on on-premises patronage to continue functioning or turning a profit, was shut down to make sure that the pandemic could be curbed.

The hospitality and catering industry was hardest hit, with every venue closing. It became clear that if people wanted to eat out, they would have to order in.

What Did The Catering Industry Do?

The hospitality and catering sector had to find a way to adapt to the new reality. For that reason, many of the restaurants that had been forced to close decided to either partner with existing delivery companies, or set up in-house delivery services.

In 2021, the situation has remained the same. Some countries have eased their restrictions, based on how well they are dealing with the pandemic.

Some of the challenges the industry is facing include:

  • Social distancing
  • Rent
  • Changes in payment terms
  • Furloughed workers who are making less (no tips)

More challenges had to be dealt with but many event caterers have either settled into a system of delivery or been forced to close down for good. For the surviving hospitality and catering businesses, a way forward is needed.

Music Festival

The Fall of Large Events

For anyone who had an event in 2020, if it was not happening online or as a drive-in, it was not happening. Events will return to normal soon but for now, everything needs to be done online or under very safe social distancing protocols in an open-air event.

Large events stopped working because:

  • They would not be fun events, they would be super-spreader events
  • Social distancing is difficult to safely implement with large crowds
  • Some countries completely prohibit the gathering of more than a specified number of people (usually a few people at a time)

With these restrictions and health concerns, large events were suspended, especially in light of new strains of the coronavirus.

Let’s talk about how caterers can prepare for when events inevitably come back.

Mexican Food

How Event Caterers Can Prepare for Future Events

Events will return in the future. Until then, there are a few crucial things to keep in mind:

  • When events return, they will have incorporated stricter health protocols even post -COVID-19
  • The time to prepare for the new future of events is now
  • Places that allow even small events can be a learning opportunity for event caterers and mobile traders

Catering is doing a full 180 to cope with the loss of revenue since the pandemic went into full swing. The current trend involves combining technology and the rise of dark kitchens (elaborated below).

By combining what event caterers and mobile traders do, a system can be created to deliver meals, arrange seating, ensure social distancing protocols are adhered to, and manage booking (where venues are open).

Here are the top 5 technologies event caterers and other hospitality professionals are adopting to improve sales:

Email Marketing

With email, one can generate a list of names of people to reach from your collection of addresses. It is also easy to come up with a template for marketing what you offer and schedule emails for offers and other reminders.

Website Adjustments

To stay relevant, ensure your website is COVID-19 appropriate by telling people what kind of precautions you take to stay safe. You can also advertise small gatherings with intimate pictures of the same and create a ‘venues’ page to offer manageable small events (families and friends typically.)

Stay Updated

The internet has connected event catering professionals around the world in forums and communities like the Nationwide Caterers Association and the We Make Events campaign, among others.

Mobile Solutions for Online Ordering

The digital transformation has come to the catering world in the form of online ordering and payment platforms. The apps can be used to reserve equipment or time slots from a catering service. Utilities like ours – NOQ – can help build a complete ordering system (including payment) with ease.

Dark Kitchen

The Growth of Dark Kitchens

The term ‘dark kitchen’ refers to a remote, virtual, cloud-hosted, or ghost kitchen. Dark kitchens are not like traditional restaurants, since they only do food deliveries. Dark kitchens have a kitchen but no dining areas for walk-in customers.

Hundreds of these kitchens are already operational in the UK with most based in London. Online ordering and deliveries now make up about 30% of revenue in the food business.

Is this the future of takeaway? Some of the benefits of these kitchens include:

  • Operational costs are lower than the very high restaurant overheads
  • The kitchens are adaptable and flexible
  • Automating the sales process is easy
  • Quality is much higher since there is room to offer better quality at a lower cost
  • The kitchens have access to user data, allowing them to market themselves better

The dark kitchen business models used include:

  • The ‘traditional’ dark kitchen specializes in a single kind of cuisine, with delivery and ordering done through apps.
  • Takeaway dark kitchens are similar to the traditional format but allow customers to wait for and pick their food.
  • Multi-brand dark kitchens are composed of different brands selling different cuisines, working under the same parent company to keep costs down.
  • Aggregator-run dark kitchens are used by food delivery app channels to avail empty kitchen spaces to businesses looking for one.
  • Outsourced dark kitchens can outsource processes before doing the finishing touches and delivering
Social Distance

What Can We Expect in 2021?

Even though event caterers continue to feel the effects of the pandemic every day, we are getting closer to understanding how we will live after the pandemic ends. Preparation for the future will position you to transition into the post-COVID-19 world.

The market wants to see clean and sanitary food preparation and serving. If you can prove to your customers that you can serve them even in the middle of a pandemic, your value will increase because of better retention rates.

Introduce the new trends like electronic menus, tableside ordering (to reduce contact), self-order kiosks, contactless payment options, and virtual gift cards (for marketing).

Some events will take place in the summer of ’21, and this will be a great opportunity for event caterers to show off their newly implemented safety guidelines, whilst allowing customers to experience a little bit of the old normal. Step by step, we will adapt and overcome the pandemic, and hopefully soon, large scale events will be able to take place like before!

Stay updated to keep up, as you prepare for your post-pandemic return.

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