According to a United Nations report, the global tourism industry has lost $4 trillion, mainly because of lockdown measures over the past two years. To put that number into perspective, the impact is almost equivalent to the GDP of France. However, the silver lining is that hotels and restaurants became super creative in finding ways to keep their businesses running and some of the more innovative ideas are being continued. Here are five clever ideas and trends that we consumers are benefiting from.
1.Catering to Remote Workers
Many restaurants and caterers who created appealing meal kits and delivery services for consumers and businesses in the past two years have managed to survive. There was a massive rise in meal delivery services appealing to just about every diet and preference. Some restaurants and caterers survived by cleverly pivoting to deliver a range of meals and kits to business clients. In Berlin, Glüxgefühl added B2B meal kit delivery to their catering business and it’s such a huge success, they’ll continue to do so. Their meal delivery for remote workers is a selection of enticing food boxes that can be used for online events or in the home office.
Since 2020, Glüxgefühl has served clients like SAP, Mercedes Benz, Boston Consulting Group, Spotify, Zalando, DKB, and more. As Cem Yilmaz and Mesut Yigit from Glüxgefühl said, “during the 2021 holiday season, our company set a new internal record by delivering more than 2,000 meal boxes with 3-course menus that corporations used for virtual Christmas parties.”
It’s mainly bowl food with individual components carefully selected by their chefs who focus on vitamin-rich and easily digestible ingredients that increase energy levels. The vegan curry lunch box contains a bag of rice, chickpeas in a jar, coconut milk, a sweet potato, red curry paste in a jar, and a smoothie. The Happy lunch box has a smoothie, Goji berry tea, chicken curry, nut mix and an energy bar.
Likewise, Freshly in New York, an all-natural, all-fresh, health-focused meal delivery service, teamed up with a doctor and chefs to create meals that are fresh, not frozen and are both healthy and tasty. A rotating menu of over 30 dishes satisfies even the pickiest eater in the office.
In the UK, some restaurants also joined the new finish-at-home meal kit platform, Dishpatch, a great example of the pandemic as a catalyst for innovation. London chef Angela Hartnett said that “launching Cafe Murano with Dishpatch kept us going through the pandemic, generating a significant source of revenue enabling us to keep our chefs in the kitchen and our restaurant team busy. We’ve been amazed by the feedback we’ve had from customers across the country and although our restaurants are now open, finish-at-home meal kits are part of our long term plans.” Peter Butler, Dispatch co-founder, said the aim was to create “an entirely new and profitable revenue stream for restaurants, while enabling access to high quality menus no matter where you live.”
As the world has reopened, many businesses have continued to embrace remote work and things like virtual conferences and webinars have continued to remain popular. While some discontinued that part of their business once normal dining returned, others have maintained it, recognising that some form of remote working seems to be here to stay.
With screen times increasing by over 75% in 2020 alone, many of us just want to unplug. And more people are prioritizing wellness in a post-Covid world. The travel industry has responded to this with silent and tech-free retreats. These retreats allow guests to unwind without any interruptions from the tech world and in some cases, any interruptions at all. Silent retreats aim to quiet all the noise, allow you to reset, recharge and turn your attention inward and encourage participants to take a vow of silence for a given time. These retreats claim to make you more mindful and some research even suggests that mindfulness can boost immune system health and benefit people with insomnia. One study that compared the effects of a seven-day silent meditation retreat on the brain function of practised meditators and people who did not regularly meditate found that non-meditators had reduced activation in certain regions of the brain. They interpreted this result as increased brain efficiency. Silent retreats may not appeal to everyone but all can benefit from quiet and stillness in a beautiful, natural setting like Devon, England with the Sharpham Trust, an internationally-recognised centre for mindfulness retreats. Or Vana retreat in India, set on the slopes of a lychee and mango plantation, is an international ashram, a wellness retreat and sanctuary.
The pandemic prompted more people to enjoy getaways that are not quite so far from their homes: the staycation is here to stay. For local hotels and hospitality, this has become a massive source of revenue and foot traffic and for the consumer it’s become an inexpensive way to unwind. A UK area that has experienced a staycation upturn is the Isle of Wight, just off the south coast of England, about three hours from London via car or train and ferry. Renowned for its natural beauty that includes 65 miles of coastline, the island has lovely, expansive sandy beaches, great hiking trails, an impressive Roman villa and excellent seafood. Kip Hideaways offers a hand-picked, ever-expanding portfolio of 120 unusual and stylish UK boltholes, from cozy cottages and luxurious eco cabins to forest treehouses and sea view studios. Countryside hotels like Ellenborough Park on the edge of the Cotswolds offer ongoing staycation packages. And seaside haunts like Albion House in Ramsgate report greatly increased bookings, even over traditionally quiet months.
Clearly, wellness and health are at the top of many people’s minds and the industry has responded accordingly. Savvy hotels are offering wellness solutions and other businesses are helping customers to find these solutions. HotelGyms enables users to search for hotels with the best gyms. The clever platform leverages artificial intelligence and a gym rating system called “GymFactor” to make every fitness lover’s holiday a success. Among other features, it can suggest accommodations with the best gyms and sports facilities, show nearby gym options if a hotel gym isn’t adequate and even suggest running routes around the hotel. HotelGyms provides one-click access to thousands of available hotels at the destination of your choice, ranking the hotels in terms of the fitness facilities and giving you the opportunity to book your ideal hotel directly through platforms like Booking.com.
More and more hotels are now working with this Swiss startup to promote their fitness assets to their guests. The Westin London City is an excellent example of a hotel with a wellness focus. The newest Westin hotel embodies the brand’s six pillars of well-being – Sleep Well, Eat Well, Move Well, Feel Well, Work Well and Play Well – through its engaging programming. The Heavenly™ Spa is spread across 370 square meters, with six treatment rooms and a 12-metre indoor pool, plus a state-of-the-art fitness studio complete with TRX® exercise equipment and Peloton bikes. Guests are encouraged to explore the local area with the renowned RunWESTIN™ program offering specially created running routes that take advantage of the Thames river Path. Yoga, breathwork sessions and other health and fitness activities are also a possible future addition to the wellness offering.
Another hotel focusing on wellness is Four Seasons Resort Maui, Hawaii who has just announced a collaboration with Next|Health, a health optimization and longevity center. Aimed at travelers seeking an upgraded spa experience, the new slate of offerings including Ozone Therapy, Stem Cell Therapy, and Exosomes Therapy.
Cleanliness has always been a huge factor in the travel and tourism industry but now more than ever, hotels and travel companies are leaning into this. From contactless payments to self-check-in to multiple sanitations a day, hyper-cleanliness is now the norm. The UK introduced a “good to go” cleanliness certification for COVID 19 industry compliance from The National Tourist Organisations of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. While the certification has ceased, many of these enhanced cleaning processes are still in place, helping to reassure guests.