How COVID changed the UK's hospitality sector

·3-min read
Contactless payment
34% of hospitality businesses already use order and pay technology, and 42% of those who don’t, plan to introduce it in 2021, the study shows. Photo: Dojo

The coronavirus pandemic has forever changed the way many industries operate, as many venues were forced to come up with alternative ways to do business as restrictions and social distancing were enforced. 

As a result, the use of technology and artificial intelligence jumped. In Britain, the services and manufacturing sectors were one of the biggest industries that have adapted such new technologies to keep trading. 

The majority of UK's hospitality venues plan to use pay and order tech post-COVID, according to a new research by card payment provider Dojo

Out of 300 owners and management surveyed, 95% of restaurants are looking to implement the changes in payment and orders for the long haul. 

The crisis has propelled contactless payment and orders. From mobile apps to web ordering, 43% of customers have been using some form of order and pay technology since July 2020. 

While this type of technology was available pre-pandemic, it was still in its infancy and only just emerging in the UK hospitality industry.

34% of hospitality businesses already use order and pay technology, and 42% of those who don’t, plan to introduce it in 2021, the study shows. 

Watch: What UK government COVID-19 support is available?

It is not only order and pay tech that has changed how the hospitality sector operates. COVID has also seen a huge rise in the number of restaurants using online menus, with 57% of them now offering physical and digital menus at their venues.

The resurgence of the quick response (QR) code has also allowed venues to offer minimal contact for customers, with 88% of respondents saying they would continue online menus after the pandemic. 

Restaurant goers are now able to scan a QR code present on the table and be presented with the digital menu via their smartphone, improving both efficiency and customer experience.

A QR code is a machine-readable barcode that contains information about the item to which it is attached.

Meanwhile, consumer behaviour has also shifted, with most reacting positively to the new tech. Out of the 500 customers surveyed, 83% stated they prefer to use a mobile device when ordering food and drinks.

"As lockdown restrictions ease, it’s important for the hospitality industry to reflect on the changes it's made to adapt. Perhaps this new tech adoption can help create even more efficiencies and help safeguard trading in the future," said Jon Knott head of consumer insight at Dojo. 

Read more: UK restaurants struggle to recruit after Brexit and COVID double whammy

It comes as Britain's hospitality sector is struggling with staff shortages as it reopens, forcing pubs and restaurants to offer cash sweeteners to lure workers.

UK pubs and restaurants have blamed both the coronavirus pandemic and Brexit for staff shortages across the industry. The problem has become particularly acute since indoor dining resumed last week as part of the next stage of Britain’s roadmap out of lockdown.

Experts have said the jobs crisis could derail the hospitality sector's recovery from the pandemic, if staffing shortages continue.

Last month, job postings in some parts of the hospitality industry rose 20% above pre-pandemic levels. Jack Kennedy, a UK economist at job listings website Indeed, said: "In some areas the number of candidates isn’t keeping up.”