Our monthly roundup is your source for a handpicked selection of noteworthy news bites, restaurant real talk and other things you need to know about the hospitality industry.

This month, we’re excited to announce that industry veteran Roger Cummings has joined the Holistic Hospitality Solutions team (in case you missed it, you can read his interview here). To celebrate his arrival, we’ve asked Roger to share his opinions and perspectives on a few recent hospitality headlines.

What people are saying about the Amazon and Whole Foods deal
Whether or not you were surprised by Amazon’s major announcement last month, the company’s entry into the grocery business is likely to ratchet up competition within the sector. This actually could be good for us as customers, due to potential cost savings from economies of scale. However, it could also end up hurting small independent grocers, as margins will likely decrease and competition will increase.

I’m curious to see if the laidback culture at Whole Foods will be influenced by Amazon’s alleged “stiffer” corporate culture. Only time will tell, so stay tuned as we can expect more stories to emerge in the wake of this deal.

Welcoming transgender customers to your restaurant
The topic of transgender rights has gained noticeable ground over the past few years. Some public buildings and schools now have washrooms designated as “gender neutral,” and this is becoming more common in other public venues as well.

Restaurants have a great opportunity to lead in this area. I personally believe restaurants have an obligation to win over staff and customers by making everyone feel comfortable and welcome. It saddens me to think that someone could be discriminated against based on gender identity or gender expression, as that is either explicitly or implicitly prohibited by federal, provincial and territorial governments via their respective Human Rights Codes. Everyone should be welcome, no matter what. Well, unless they are rude jerks, that is! 😉

How social media can grow your brand
As a member of Generation X, I have to admit that I’ve embraced social media with reluctance, rather than open arms. At the same time, I also know social media is definitely not going away anytime soon.

For me, social media is a helpful resource that allows me to stay on top of subjects that I find interesting and important. Social media is also a good way to share passions and interests. I’ve been on Facebook and LinkedIn for years, and recently started using Instagram. And I’m not going to lie, it feels nice when you gain a new follower or receive a “like” on a photo that you have taken care in posting!

If you haven’t jumped on the social media bandwagon yet, I urge you to give it a chance. Holistic Hospitality Solutions has written a few great introductory articles on this topic if you need a helping hand!
Introductory Guide to Social Media for Restaurants
Creative Guide to Social Media for Restaurants: Part 1
Creative Guide to Social Media for Restaurants: Part 2

But please, don’t ask me about Twitter. I still haven’t figured that one out (yet!)

The food service industry is ripe for disruption
In my opinion, the restaurants, retailers and distributors that were previously considered niche or “cool” are now looking for greater market share in a somewhat shrinking marketplace. The defined boundaries within which they used to conduct business are now almost nonexistent. This trend of disruption will only continue as technology advances and competition increases.

The best way to avoid disruption — in any industry, not just hospitality — is to put a disruptive strategy in place. A disruptive strategy will address any surprises or new industry-shaping technologies that could impact the status quo. I also think the food service industry’s business model needs to be re-evaluated to determine where it truly brings the most value to patrons and where it’s lacking value.

Most restaurant studies conclude that it is actually not the food quality that determines whether or not a customer returns. Rather, it’s the overall experience that dictates the likelihood of return, which includes factors like customer service and restaurant ambiance. This is why loyalty is of utmost importance, and why I believe restaurants who reward loyal customers have a winning strategy. I recommend that restaurants build a loyalty program and a loyalty app as part of their overall business strategy. In fact, Holistic Hospitality Solutions will be partnering with digital rewards card app KISSGC in September! Stay tuned for our full announcement…

Containing restaurant costs: The three big challenges to profitability
This is a subject near and dear to my heart. Part of what I love about consulting is the ability to help food service operators solve problems. In today’s competitive market, labour and food costs are the top two priorities.

In my opinion, I think the opportunity to sell fully prepared, further processed, and par baked items is going to take off and become more accepted in many restaurants that previously would have insisted on making everything back of house.

The cost of labour, goods and supplies will only keep increasing. Thankfully the “value added” items keep getting better as the ingredient decks get cleaner.

#ICYMI: Chew On More
Don’t forget to check out our blog Chew On This for more articles on hospitality and restaurants.
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Author Trish Hudson

Trish is the owner and principal at Holistic Hospitality Solutions. She aims to help assess her clients operations from top to bottom in order to gain efficiencies, save money, and increase their bottom line.

More posts by Trish Hudson