How the little moments will help retail & hospitality bounce back 

The predictions that we’re entering a 21st century ‘Roaring Twenties’ feel apt, as doors opened on shops, bars and restaurants around the UK last month. Initial retail sales results results are (cautiously) positive and streets remain busy with shoppers, diners and drinkers. People are getting ready to go back to the office and even starting to dream about holidays abroad. We’re doing all of this with changed expectations, though. 

Trade may be brisk right now but once the novelty of merely being out of the house wears off, people will be looking closely at where they spend their money. We are desperate for new experiences but they need to be worth the effort. No one wants to go back to poorly lit, cramped changing rooms, the introduction of table service in pubs removes the scrum at the bar of old and the boom in shopping locally will surely stick, as working from home becomes the routine not the exception. 

Now is the time to be bold and inject theatre into the customer experience. If they are willing to stop trying to do business the way they’ve always done it with just a few ‘COVID-safe’ modifications thrown in, brands have an opportunity to build loyal customer base who will support them through future unexpected crises and build the business during the good times 

The little things that help customers feel safe and comfortable right now, like blankets for outdoor seating, reconfigured spaces and ordering by app, are all important but they are little things. Loyalty comes from thinking about the big things, like considering how that app fits into your bigger digital strategy or how that space can be transformed, not only safely, but with a bit of magic to delight people and help them to connect emotionally with your brand. 

Some brands have been doing this for years. I’m a little biased, having spent over ten years with Virgin but anyone who’s flown Virgin Atlantic will have seen (and hopefully pinched) the famous salt & pepper shakers, which have were introduced in 2001. This moment on its own might feel empty without all the considered, connected experiences leading up to seeing them sitting on your dinner tray – from the booking experience, social media, check-in desk and in-flight interactions, relaxing in the departure lounge and brand engagement the trip is over. If every moment interconnects seamlessly, by the time you turn over those shakers and see ‘pinched from...’, not only will you likely smile, it’ll feel like a natural part of your overall experience. The perfect fit. 

Transformational programmes can feel daunting. For me, it starts with people – your customers and your teams. Know them both inside out, so you can find the best ways to create stand out, personal brand experiences for your customers and you can train your teams to fall in love with the brand they represent.  

Now is the time to really innovate and think ‘What if?’ How will you adapt your brand experience to make it exceptional?

Get in touch if you’d like to re-imagine what the roaring 20s will look like for your brand 

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