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Rebooting the hospitality sector with technology

Technology is playing a crucial role as the hospitality sector rebounds after the coronavirus pandemic

Hospitality is one industry that has been hit particularly hard by coronavirus pandemic restrictions, forcing many to innovate however they can in order to stay in business.

The first few months of the pandemic saw economic output fall by 90%, as well as the highest proportion of furloughed jobs. While large corporations have been better able to weather the storm, small businesses have frequently been forced to close or find new ways to innovate.

In addition to using tried-and-true IT solutions to overcome these barriers, enterprises can creatively solve many new problems caused by the pandemic through unique tech innovations available today. 

We are all familiar with the food delivery apps, such as Deliveroo and Just Eat, that saved restaurants of all sizes – and cooking-averse customers – in the earliest days of lockdown. As the world begins to reopen, pubs and restaurants looking for ways to minimise congestion and stay within restrictions on queuing have found a mobile-friendly solution.

JD Wetherspoon had already introduced its own native table service app in the pre-pandemic days of 2017 and saw an increase in share prices the same year. While some pub and restaurant chains, such as Greene King and Harvester, have their own native apps, smaller businesses use services such as Fetch, Goodeats or OrderPay.

At Twinwoods Adventure, table service app TheFork is used for both the children’s soft play area and the bar and grill. As managing director and owner, I can personally attest to the efficacy of this system, both for smoother restaurant management and customer satisfaction.

Such technology is ushering in a new and safer era of pub table service in the UK, similar to other parts of the world. 

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With tourism suffering great losses because of travel restrictions, many businesses have taken to augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR). This includes startups offering 360-degree tours for home users with Oculus headsets, providing an immersive travel experience to prepare visitors for actual trips in the future.

Hotels taking advantage of this technology, including The Hub Hotel in London and Edinburgh, use AR to improve their hotel experience. Guests can use wall maps in their rooms in conjunction with smart devices to activate additional information about nearby areas and places to visit.

When it isn’t convenient to brave the thrills of skydiving outside, AR brings the experience to you. FunFlyVR is another of my companies that – together with Twinwoods Adventure – makes this immersive experience possible with VR headsets and real skydiving equipment.

We recently partnered with Yorkshire Tourism to offer this AR adventure at the Great Yorkshire Show. The technology shows great promise for other companies in similar niches.

Although it isn’t easy to advance implementation of technology for specific purposes, Covid-19 has certainly accelerated the development and adoption of solutions to meet new challenges and demands. It is likely recovery will be gradual and slow for the hospitality industry, but tech innovations like these have helped many UK businesses reduce losses and aspire to a brighter future.

Roy Castleman is managing director of Twinwoods Adventures and founder and managing director of EC-MSP, a London-based IT support firm for small and medium-sized enterprises.

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