Survival to success: Resolutions for small hospitality businesses in 2022

After soaring vaccination rates and the culmination of lockdowns towards the end of last year, 2022 brought optimism and the promise of a return to ‘normal’ for the hospitality industry. However, the reality has been far from the rosy picture many anticipated, with surging case numbers, staff shortages and unreliable supply chains creating uncertainty.

For small hospitality businesses, resolutions are more than idealistic, future-gazing goals. They’re strategies that can help mitigate short-term challenges while simultaneously building the foundations for longer-term prosperity. Here are a few resolutions these businesses should make in 2022.

Build deeper guest relationships

The last two years have made it clear that building direct relationships with guests is crucial to a restaurant’s survival and success. In 2022, small hospitality businesses must prioritise personalised experiences that drive loyalty.

One way to ensure every guest is treated with the personalised experiences they crave is with a data-driven CRM. Everything from a guest’s allergies and drink preferences, to order history and booking cadence can be stored and turned into exceptional, memorable and personal experiences. When guests feel genuinely understood, loyalty grows.

Leverage guest data

The importance of owning guest data has become more apparent during the pandemic as businesses face fluctuating restrictions and high competition. Owning and utilising guest data is the best way to drive loyalty. Just a 5 per cent increase in guest retention can lead to a 95 per cent increase in profits.

A local venue’s secret weapon to greater profits and repeat business is leveraging data to power marketing automation. For example, convert your third-party guests to direct guests with targeted promotions. To do so, create an email campaign for anyone who has booked or ordered online through a third-party, and provide a special offer if they book or order directly next time.

Overcome staff shortages

With borders closed to many students and short-term visa holders – cohorts the hospitality sector relies on – and many staff contracting the virus, hospitality businesses are facing staffing shortages. However, technology can help even the smallest venue do more with less.

Technology allows you to optimise staff time, increase efficiencies and decrease admin, all while providing exceptional experiences guests crave, remember and return for. For example, by automating emails and discounts to customers, SevenRooms’ marketing automation helps boost repeat business and profits with little to no administrative burden.

Optimise online

No longer is a restaurant solely a brick-and-mortar business. Catering to guests online – where they spend time researching – delivers a unified experience that keeps you top of mind. This year, treat your online presence as the digital maitre d’ of your business.

On Google, make direct channels your preferred ordering and booking links. Doing so means you’re not paying third-party fees and can leverage the data obtained through direct engagement. Make ‘Reserve Now’ and ‘Order Now’ buttons prominent on social media and search engines so it’s as seamless as possible for guests.

Unify on- and off-premise

The demand for takeout and delivery services are here to stay, especially as local cases surge. According to SevenRooms research in 2021, 33 per cent of Australians intend to dine out less than before the pandemic, so use 2022 as an opportunity to optimise and seamlessly integrate your on- and off-premise operations.

Bringing together guest data from on- and off-premises provides a 360-degree view of your customers. If you’re fully booked, ensure your customers know that your kitchen is still open and ready to deliver. Send out special offers to incentivise patrons for slower periods and ensure customers can access every option – from ‘Order Delivery’ or ‘Book a Table’ to ‘Join our Waitlist’ – in one place.

While it’s a concerning time for many small hospitality businesses, treat the new year as an opportunity not a challenge, by turning resolutions into actionable strategies for short- and long-term success.