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How the hospitality industry is growing in 2022

The question of what the hospitality sector’s prospects look like for the year ahead is a slightly more complicated one to answer than might first seem the case.

Indeed, amid what has unquestionably been a bruising last two years for restaurants, takeaways and similar businesses, some observers may have been surprised to read about an analysis of Office for National Statistics (ONS) data showing that the number of hospitality firms in the UK has actually gone up since March 2019, rather than down.

Such growth in the numbers of food and drink businesses – by over 10,000, in fact – says a lot about the remarkable resilience of a sector that has been put under exceptional pressure by the pandemic. And there’s some more good news, with the i reporting that according to FutureFoodService founder Simon Stenning, total hospitality sales excluding accommodation look set to reach around £95 billion during 2022.

So, we can probably assume that the UK hospitality industry is in a period of recovery – but what will that recovery look like over the course of the next few months? Let’s take a look at just some of the probable trends.

Increasing digitalisation to streamline the processing of customer orders

Very few key observers expect the UK hospitality sector to ever again return to quite how it looked in 2019. After all, the extreme strains placed by the COVID-19 crisis have helped to set in play innovations that will surely permanently transform how such businesses operate.

One of the best-documented changes to hospitality since the onset of the UK’s first, March 2020 lockdown has been the rush of restaurants, pubs and takeaways to adopt ever-more digitised and online-based systems for the taking and processing of customer orders.

Today, it seems that very few leading eateries across the UK don’t have some kind of online takeaway ordering system in place – and even those that do are continually looking to optimise whatever arrangements they have.

Back in the spring of 2020, your own restaurant or bar may have hurriedly implemented a system for accepting online orders that basically ‘worked’ – but how easy is your current online ordering system to use for every member of your team, and does it offer the full breadth of functionality your business needs? Your answers to questions like these will probably tell you whether now is the time to invest further.

Customers are being kept interested with new and novel experiences

If 2020 for hospitality businesses was largely about simply surviving amid abrupt and unexpected adversity, and 2021 was about embedding those lessons, 2022 will surely be about taking a proactive approach to futureproofing your business – whatever might happen next.

And if you wish to accomplish the latter, you’ll need to go a lot further with your restaurant or takeaway than simply setting up an ‘order at table’ or ‘click and collect’ app. What we’re referring to, is the need to innovate with new experiences that are also relevant to customers’ current preferences and circumstances.

As BigHospitality has recently reported, various experience-led trends have been predicted for the sector this year, such as the re-emergence of dessert bars and the growth of vegan cuisine beyond the casual dining market that it has so far been largely associated with.

Don’t forget, too, that many potential customers may wish to experience the most impeccable restaurant-standard cuisine in the comfort of their own homes, having gotten accustomed to quick and convenient online food deliveries during the lockdowns. With brands like Indulge now offering foodies the opportunity of a true fine dining experience at home, it is surely time to assess where your own hospitality firm could sit in this emerging ‘new normal’.

Aspiring to the highest standards of marketing and presentation

The post-COVID world may be one of a certain bold ‘newness’ for many hospitality firms, but certain things don’t really change over time. Sure, you may be promoting your restaurant or takeaway through slightly different avenues than you have done in the past – such as through your own branded app – but the broad principles of presenting your firm well will remain much the same.

Sure enough, the importance of strong SEO for hospitality businesses – that’s ‘search engine optimisation’, for those unfamiliar with the acronym – looks set to be even greater in an age in which more and more people discover such firms for the first time through a Google search on their phone. Video marketing, too, is continuing its upward climb among digital marketing methods that promise high levels of engagement with relevant audiences.

Then, of course, there is matter of ensuring your hospitality firm continues to present itself advantageously for those customers who still make your brick-and-mortar site their principal port of call.

After years spent gazing at their screens at home, considerable numbers of people are eager to immerse themselves in the ‘real world’ again. So, whether it’s the modernisation of your restaurant décor or swift barcode scanner repair that your business most urgently needs to invest in if it is to ensure the optimal experience for employees and customers alike, the present moment is the time to do it. Rest assured that your firm will be reaping the benefits of such proactive moves for years to come.

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