As Australia’s hospitality businesses look for ways to survive lockdown and thrive post-pandemic, leading mobile ordering and payment platform me&u has released a hospitality trends report, which outlines ways to help venues to operate smarter.

Working with hundreds of partner venues including Merivale, Rockpool Group, Solotel Group, The Portsea Hotel and Howard Smith Wharves and analysing data from millions of transactions, me&u has brought together learnings and strategies to help businesses bounce back.

The report sets out 10 key trends, which me&u CEO and Founder, Stevan Premutico says will help the industry to operate smarter post-COVID.

“The overarching theme from us, when we started piecing this together, was that it’s clearly a tough time to be in hospitality and what we wanted to show in this research was that there are some silver linings,” Premutico told The Shout.

“So while it’s terrible, while it’s tough there are little moments of positivity and some good news stories, silver linings that say ‘don’t give up, there is some good stuff that’s happening’. Once the doors open again there’s a better world that’s coming and that’s the lens that we tried to look at this through.”

The 10 hospitality trends to watch are:

  • Australians are desperate to be social
  • Fridays are out. Saturdays are in
  • Renewed love for the local pub
  • Spirits are soaring
  • Premiumisation
  • Grateful customers = increased tips
  • The labour challenge
  • Contactless payments are here to stay
  • The reinvention of back of house
  • Innovation: there’s no going back.

Premutico told The Shout: “The world has changed and hospitality in particular has changed. It’s hard but can’t go back to who were as an industry because the industry was broken. So as brutal as it is, we’ve got to try and use this as a reset, to try create better businesses and a better industry.”

Getting into the trends, he added: “I think that there is a structural change in the way the world works and so things like the boss saying at 4pm on Friday afternoon ‘let’s go to the pub for a few drinks to celebrate Sally’s birthday’ that’s gone. Everyone is at home doing there own thing and we don’t see that coming back any time soon.

“But naturally customers still want to go out, they still want to celebrate, but they’re doing it less with their work mates. The significant shift that we’re seeing is that customers still want to go out, still want to have a few beers but they are doing it with their friends on a Saturday, rather than with work mates on a Friday.

“The natural progression from that is if you are going to have a few drinks after work, but you’re working from home you are now going with your wife to the local pub, rather than going from home in Castle Hill to the CBD. You’re more likely to come into the CBD on the weekend, because you want to get out and about.”

What the pandemic has also caused is the drop in international travel, even domestic travel is being hit with lockdowns and this means customers have more money to spend and Premutico said this is bringing changes to spending habits in hospitality venues.

“There is definitely a sense of discovery and curiosity and there’s a bit of celebration at being back out and about and we’re definitely seeing customers are happy to splurge a bit more.”

This has seen the rise of premiumisation and an increase in cocktails sales, and Premutico told The Shout, that the me&u platform is helping venues to take advantage of this.

“It’s a fascinating psychology because now, through our platform, customers can see what they are ordering, so they feel a lot comfortable about ordering a cocktail, because I can see it before I order it. This means I am much less likely to order poorly and have a big pink cocktail and make a fool of myself in front of my mates.

“We have definitely seen bars moving more cocktails because there is that visual component, the order anxiety is removed and there is the psychological part of customers feeling more comfortable.”

He added: “What we’re also seeing is the customer who order on me&u spends 27.5 per cent more than the person who gets up and goes to the counter. They feel a lot more comfortable adding to their order, it’s guilt-less ordering, but also venues can put their premium spirits high up in the ordering process, so it’s a lot easier for people to decide to have a Four Pillars as their gin, rather than house pour.”

The me&u team work with venues to help improve ordering, give advice on how staff can work better with the platform and me&u are also seeing tipping increase.

Premutico said: “I think as an industry we have to make the industry more attractive to work in and one way to do that is to help people earn more money. So after we included a tipping option on the platform we saw customer say yes, and tipping more, which simply wasn’t happening when you went up to pay at the counter.”

Since me&u added their tipping feature in June 2020, they’ve seen an eightfold increase in tipping nationwide, and are now on track to raise $10 million of tips through the platform.

He told The Shout: “We can’t go back to who we were, because that was broken. So how do we use this time to reset, re-think and re-boot so that when doors do open we’re a smarter business, a better business?

“We’ve put up so many barriers to customers spending money, we make them wait in a queue for 20 minutes, we don’t upsell, we don’t give them options to add to their order. We call them friction points and we need to get rid of those friction points because customers are happy and they want to spend more money.”

The ‘Reigniting Hospitality: 10 Trends to Help you Operate Smarter Post-COVID’ report is available for free on the me&u website and is a fascinating and educational read for every hospitality owner, operator and manager.

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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