MILAN, Italy – For the Ho.Re.Ca segment, it’s time for a comeback. Whatever the protocols to observe, spaces to reformulate and businesses requiring a rethink, the challenge of the new normal revolves around two words: quality and innovation.
The very same concepts at the core of Hostmilano 2021, the event scheduled for fieramilano (22 to 26 October 2021), which during the last few weeks has not only re-affirmed its position as the leading global platform for professional hospitality but also its capacity to be a full spectrum partner for all actors in the industry.
Away From Home: 8 out of 10 Italians want their bars and restaurants to open up again
According to a survey by Tradelab, 8 out of 10 Italians believe they will soon return to their favourite bars and restaurants, although with the appropriate safety precautions. But in any case, the Italian desire for a return to normality is such that over 7 out of 10 are prepared to give up their privacy, at least in the initial phase of the restart (consent is strongest among the segments of the population most impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as Gen Z and millennials).
But the new normal will usher in considerable changes in consumer habits. The winners in this new situation will be bars and restaurants which allow just a few guests at a time (75%), offering perfect hygiene (59%), observance of regulations (53%) and properly spaced tables (50%). The result: the re-opening will see a more intimate Away From Home, with individual guests or small groups frequenting known and familiar establishments.
This desire for normality offers a glimmer of hope after Covid-19 for the professional hospitality supply chains which, due to the lockdown, have seen a quarter of the entire Away From Home sector’s turnover go up in smoke; a market which in 2019 reported figures in excess of 86 bn euro, frequented by around 40 million Italians.
The age of social distancing is coming
The age of social distancing. That’s what the sociologists are calling the post-pandemic era. The era of a new paradigm, composed of values ranging from sustainability to competency and expressed in a new quality of time and space.
In this context, the city itself will have to be completely rethought, along with its bars, restaurants and public spaces. For designers, however, the task will be not so much to design distancing, but rather to imagine different objects and settings, in line with the new life of phase 3, and the concurrent trend to lower occupant densities.
From the architectural point of view – as many have emphasised – the number of surfaces will diminish, since we will all have fewer objects around us, and we will be very careful not to waste resources which may turn out to be essential at any moment. The result will be to prioritise the cleanliness – both real and metaphorical – of our spaces, including those we share with others. And objects? Those which survive the pandemic will have to be intelligent, able to offer different functions as needed; like domotic systems, they will leverage technology to avoid unnecessary contact.
Attention to the customer and safety: new rules for tomorrow’s Away From Home
In the new era – both companies and professionals agree – hospitality facilities will also have to change. Starting with hotels, in which social distancing will affect the organisation of halls, common areas and even check-in and check-out procedures. This will lead to a greater use of automation and the Internet of Things, to enable direct communication with guests, as well as promoting research into new materials which are easy to sanitise without damage.
In retail outlets, on the other hand, tape marks on the floor to indicate appropriate distancing may be replaced by displays or windows to enable customers to talk to staff at the right distance. And alongside separating tables with plexiglass dividers, restaurants will have to revolutionise their services; indeed, the very shape of the plates may have to change to avoid contact between the waiter and the dish being served.
As for formats, many new ideas are being considered: from automatic counters to handle menus and payments, to tunnels which will not only sanitise persons and objects, but also measure body temperatures and check that masks and gloves are being used. There is also the option of installing heated wall counters, ideal for keeping food warm until the client collects it without taking up unnecessary space.
And the world of packaging is wide open for development, with new eco-sustainable products for on-site consumption and home delivery. Because during the re-opening phase, not only restaurants but bars too will have to integrate home deliveries into their way of doing business. All this will tend towards a hyper-personalised service, for consumers who have learned from the lockdown to appreciate home deliveries, often provided by familiar local establishments.
Hostmilano 2021 puts the world’s leading hospitality exhibition on stage
As always, it will be its international mission that makes Hostmilano 2021 the number one event for all Ho.Re.Ca. businesses and professionals. A role, that of global equipment hub, that was strongly confirmed by the Fiera Milano event last October.