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Looking Ahead Beyond the COVID-19 Curve

“A bend in the road is not the end of the road, unless you fail to make the turn.”
–Author unknown

These uncertain times calls upon all of us to be flexible and think in new ways. Let us look at where we are today and how the industry might make the turn into the future. What will concession and food service look like once we are past survival mode of COVID-19 and how will the industry move forward?

The New Normal Business Practices

When restaurants, movie theaters, sport and schools reopen, and until a vaccine is available, there will be a new normal in place with respect to social distancing, seating configurations, rethinking self-service beverage stations, and grab and go food cabinets. Businesses will want to make a visible effort to show their staff cleaning, disinfecting surfaces to put consumers at ease.

Revisiting Single Use Packaging

There may be a relaxing of attitudes towards single use packaging and sustainability efforts as safety becomes top of mind for consumers. Shared serving stations, communal condiment stands and buffets may move to individually packaged items or eliminated entirely.

Preemptive Safety Measures

Restaurants such as McDonald’s in Hong Kong, grocery stores in Italy and other public spaces outside the U.S. are implementing temperature checks. In the U.S., Disney for example talks of the possibility of temperature checks for visitors coming into their parks. This practice is still in the discussion stage as companies are concerned about scaring customers. Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi told investors on a call last week that the chain “doesn’t anticipate” taking the temperature of moviegoers. While theaters want to show customers they’re entering a clean environment, there’s concern about walking the line between reassuring consumers and scaring them.

Next Steps

The world is anxious to get back to business but with the understanding, our world may look a bit different from how we left it. For concessionaires and food service operators, the key areas of focus that will help you are:

  1. Ensure safety of all workers and customers
  2. Rehiring and retraining workers previously laid off or furloughed.
  3. Ensure product availability in the supply chain required for reopening.
  4. Review and re-evaluate the customer facing areas your business that you can actively address consumer perceptions of safety and hygiene.
  5. Evaluate other incremental revenue opportunities

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