The reopening of bars and restaurants as part of the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions has been met enthusiastically by companies, corporations and consumers alike. In 2018, the hospitality sector was the third-largest employer in the UK, so businesses in the industry have been hit hard this year and were welcoming of the opportunity to open their doors once more. Likewise, customers have been grateful for the chance to reclaim some normality in their social lives and even venture out for a few restaurant meals.
It’s not exactly business as usual, however, as there are several restrictions governing the specifics of indoor versus outdoor service, social distancing, ensuring limited numbers by facilitating advance bookings, and collecting data for track and trace purposes, etc. So it’s a bit more complicated than before, but in general, everyone should now be able to go out a little again if they want to.
Bars and Restaurants in 2020
Although patrons can now visit their regular watering holes and favourite restaurants again, the process is almost certainly not as spontaneous as before. The government has published many guidance documents detailing measures required for businesses to operate safely. On the technological side, this includes a number of rules and recommendations for:
- Booking ahead online
- Using contactless apps for ordering food
- Providing online forms to collect names, phone numbers and email addresses of customers
For most people, this may add an element of frustration, but is essentially just a mild inconvenience. However, for many in our society, these measures could be a barrier to inclusion. There are millions of UK residents who struggle to access information on websites due to:
- Vision problems
- Physical disabilities
- Learning difficulties
- Language issues
Why should these people miss out on the same opportunities and privileges as the rest of society, just because they struggle to access or assimilate information in the same way? They shouldn’t! And why wouldn’t hospitality businesses want to be inclusive and cast their net as wide as possible in order to achieve a larger customer base? They should! Especially at a time where the sector is already struggling to bounce back from an economic downturn.
This is where Recite Me can help. We truly believe in accessibility for all and specialise in the provision of inclusive software that allows equal access to information online for those who are visually impaired, neurodiverse, speak English as a second language, or struggle with cognitive or physical disabilities.
The Importance of Digital Inclusion in the Hospitality Sector
Hospitality businesses can benefit significantly from being more inclusive online. In the here and now, the importance may be focussed on not missing out on further custom due to Covid-19 restrictions. However, even in more normal times, the target market for businesses in the hospitality sector comprises a large number of those who are more likely to encounter accessibility barriers:
- Foreign tourists who don’t speak English as a first language.
- Older people who are more likely to struggle with vision problems and mobility issues.
- All tourists who spend several weeks – or even months – researching their holiday plans online.
So for hospitality businesses, embracing inclusion means an opportunity to reach and retain more potential customers all of the time, not just in 2020.
Maximum Gain Through Inclusion
The online spending power of people with access needs in the UK is £24.8 billion, so the financial incentive alone should be enough for most businesses to give some serious thought to their digital inclusion policies. Plus, being inclusive is the right thing to do, and as an extra bonus, it comes with a feeling of pride that resonates throughout the entire company. This is especially important in hospitality, where the well-known mantra ‘happy staff = happy customers’ is rarely far from the minds of savvy business owners and managers. So there are even some sideline benefits to be found in staff satisfaction, loyalty, and reduced turnover rates.
Does it Really Work?
Absolutely, and businesses who have taken the step towards inclusion are already seeing the benefits. Take The Inn Collection Group as an example. The Inn Collection Group has several pub and accommodation properties across the North of England, and installed Recite Me software onto their website in 2019. Not only did this make their digital content more accessible and useable for everyone, but it resulted in better online experiences for potential customers which in turn translated into increased sales and bookings.
“The Inn Collection Group is all about being inclusive and welcoming to everyone.
This starts with guests locating us online and having full accessibility to our websites to make informed decisions. But it’s also about embedding diversity and inclusion into our operations and mission statement so people choose to eat, drink, sleep and explore with us, as well as choose to work for us.”
Dan Evans, General Manager, The Inn Collection Group
Get Recite Me for Your Website
It has never been more important that all customers can access and understand information online. Nor has it ever been more important that businesses are able to access and include the entire spectrum of web users. If you’d like more details on how your company can use our assistive technology to maximise your customer base, please feel free to contact our team or book a demonstration of our toolbar.