During COVID-19, the hospitality industry has suffered the most. Because of restrictions, most restaurants that are still open have closed their doors indefinitely, delivering their products to customers. In this way, restaurant owners keep the places open, and customers respect the restrictions, ensuring their social distance. However, this has disadvantages for both consumers and restaurant owners. According to Olohan (2020) in an article regarding this topic, the interest in takeout has raised to 285%, while the searches on Google regarding the strict safety and sanitation measures have increased considerably to over 650%. These statistics show the importance for restaurant owners to reassure their customers of the safe preparation of the food. Although this is an essential point, it does not represent the central focus. The issue is that by not being allowed to go out, not feeling the atmosphere of dinning out, restaurant owners have concerns regarding brand loyalty and trustiness. By not being able to see and talk to their customers, they need methods of enhancing the customer-service relationship.
Therefore, I am proposing a digital marketing strategy for restaurant owners to build solid relationships with their customers. Because of the rise of technological innovations and online tools, I believe QR codes and the video and audio formats are the most advantageous, both financially and interactively. My name is Emma Ion and I am a marketing consultant based in London. My experience as a marketing consultant, brand ambassador and writer allowed me to focus on writing about people, interpreting their feelings and concerns. I thrive on finding solutions after completely understanding the customer’s behaviour. What I’m proposing can accomplish significant results for any type of audience a brand could have.
Everyone orders food online. Almost everyone uses food delivery platforms. In this frequent case, in which are several options, the brand values and loyalty are weaker than with dinning out, seeing their logo everywhere, talking to the waiters. People miss this. Even if the customers often receive a flyer with their meals, they cannot place orders or understand the brand’s values from a small piece of paper. I am proposing the addition of QR Codes on the flyers.
It could include the official website, instant reviews or even discounts and promotions. The flyer could look like the one attached here. This strategy is not only extremely efficient because of the small amount of space utilised, but it also adds a fun and fresh experience for the customer. The one on the left goes to the brand’s website, while the one on the right sends the customer to any discount or promotion available. The QR codes must always be active and customised based on the brand’s colour schemes and preferences. I am using the colour palette presented below, although it is not mandatory for the client to use the same one.
Considering the customers accessed the QR code with the official website of the brand, then they get to the ‘Home’ page. Here, I am proposing a second strategy, which is not expensive, but adds great value to what comes next–the menu.
This audio can be easily implemented on the website before the menu. It can include greetings, frequently used phrases by the waiters, or even a brand presentation. The example presented is a greeting, with an extremely friendly and fun tone of voice. It can vary from seconds to minutes, depending on the brand values or what it wants to transmit to its customers. Placing it before the customer reaches the menu, it will boost the users experience because they will get a piece of the atmosphere of dinning out. It can vary in both the tone of voice and the timing depending only on the restaurant’s characteristics.
Coming back to the COVID-19 safety and sanitation measures, a customer would not need to check any search engine to reassure that the procedures are followed, if the third strategy is implemented. The example presented above is a presentation of one product, from preparation to delivery, including all the sanitation and safety measures mentioned. Not only it reassures the customers of the procedures but also shows how the food ordered will look like. For guaranteed results, this strategy requires equipment and time, considering there could be a quick clip for each product available. Therefore, even if it requires more attention than the other two, this strategy is one that can answer customers' questions in seconds, ensuring the loyalty and the security of the customer-service relationship.
Considering a brand implements all the three strategies discussed, from reading the flyer to receiving the food, the customer’s behaviour and experience will assure the brand’s loyalty, as it is something fresh and not too complicated to operate. The strategy I am proposing creates a narrative that does not exist yet. It could mean people will not only come for food but also because the brand creates a digital atmosphere that answers important and extremely relevant questions.