Wexford man Rory O’Connor is the founder of Scurri, a business that supplies retailers with software to manage deliveries. He was interviewed by the Financial Times recently. He makes a good point about today's customer pertinent to any business in the retail or hospitality industry. He argues that food delivery services have changed consumers’ perceptions of the potential timescale for deliveries — of anything.

“People start to think: if I can get my food that quickly, why can I not get stock from my local store in the same timeframe? 

Online shopping & ordering will not replace brick & mortar any time soon. You may be a fervent believer in the "in the flesh" business and we agree. However, it makes business sense to have a fully functioning e-commerce as complementary. As they expect a further €810m sales hit from continued closures, Primark will regret not giving this more consideration.

"I don’t think there will be a point in my future where everyone will be buying everything online. But there’s going to be some losers if [businesses] don’t pay attention to the consumer switch to digital.” Scott McKenzie, global head of intelligence for NielsenIQ, a provider of consumer data.

New Consumer, New Expectations

Earlier this month Booking.com CEO said that business travel will be 'forever lower'. Earlier this week, Ryanair's Michael O'Leary predicted a full recovery for business travel. Meanwhile, in consumer travel, online booking platform Airbnb has said it is preparing for a "significant" travel rebound as the world emerges from lockdowns. If your small business operates in the hospitality industry, being dynamic will be essential for future success.

It’s encouraging to see vaccine distribution ramping up, and clearly there is optimism around this and how it will help revive travel, but we still have a long road ahead to a full recovery.” Booking.com CEO Glenn Fogel

Over the coming years you will be dealing with a new type of consumer – one that has to be tested, vaccinated and insured and has a different set of needs, concerns and expectations.

“While we still believe it will be years before travel recovers to pre-pandemic levels, we are seeing the impact of the pent-up travel demand and remain cautiously optimistic. That said, we do expect to see a rebound in summer travel domestically and are already observing some positive summer travel booking trends in various markets.” Booking.com CEO Glenn Fogel

Those that can match these needs with enhanced service and value will succeed. You are already likely to have increased your safety game but how about flexibility and the overall experience that you offer?

“In these uncertain times, we know travellers are looking for flexibility when booking a trip and are paying close attention to cleanliness standards. We have been working hand in hand with our accommodation partners to help them update cancellation and rescheduling policies to be more flexible given what we know travellers are searching for. We have also implemented a new feature on property listings for partners to update their health and safety measures, given travellers are more conscious than ever of these standards before booking a place to stay.” Booking.com CEO Glenn Fogel

If you don't have the capacity or budget to enhance your offering in-house, collaborations is something to consider. Is there a local taxi company that can act as a chauffeur for your clients? Is there a young social media guru who can design a bespoke local travel itinerary? Just some random thoughts to get you thinking!

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