Restaurant Landscape — Post-Pandemic

Employing digital marketing techniques is a step closer to ensuring a safe dining experience post-Covid

Driving on the deserted roads of once a busy Burnet Road in Austin has not been an easy picture to forget and move on. Covid-19 has turned 2020 into one of the worst years both in terms of economic and people loss. According to Reuters, workers in the leisure and hospitality industry have fared worse than most during the pandemic. With countries stopping travel (domestic and international) and issuing stay-home orders resulting in things as they are, the restaurant industry suffered the most. 

 It’s too late to revive some restaurants and food trucks forced to shut down as soon as the lockdowns were announced. Their inability to swiftly move online and reach out to customers in a contact-free world was the primary reason for this debacle. Survived are those that adapted the relevant technology and made their digital presence prominent. Some companies such as Dominos and Starbucks have posted a marginal profit even in this scenario. 

As can be seen from Figure 1, a survey showed that cooking at home was on a high during the initial days of Covid-19, with goods being delivered at the door or with curbside pickups made easier. After a couple of months, when the fun of trying new recipes and home cooking became tedious, restaurants started doing pick-up or take-out and delivery services. This tedious chore of cooking every single day made people realize what they have been missing. Slowly when restaurants started the dining-in facility with social distancing and extra sanitization in place, customers sighed a relief of normality. 

Figure 1: Eating habits that were observed pre and post-Covid 19 [1] 

With vaccinations in place, these numbers look optimistic. But, unequivocally, the two things that people missed this past year: travel and restaurants

So, are our restaurants better equipped to handle the demand while still following safety measures? CDC has issued guidelines on the no mask policy this week. Does that mean restaurants can go back to complete normality? Considering the phobias and uncertainty around, we can’t conclude the answer may be a complete yes.

 Online interactions have penetrated way deeper into our lives over the past year; consumers prefer virtual interactions, “touchless” contacts– paperless menus, QR codes, online order & payment options, and not to undermine people’s dependence on online reviews! On top of that, retaining customers has become possible only with sales promotion techniques such as coupons, discounts, join-our-app promotions, etc., alongside pampering on their special days and holidays in place. Finding online customers also means tracking and profiling them; personalize and customize their needs with a good user experience (UX) and customer experience (CX), which will embellish a restaurant’s online performance and its CX of the whole process. The bottom line is the businesses that survived the pandemic moved digitally or have been digital.

For a restaurateur, it’s not an easy task to be digital. To manage the digital traffic, feedback and reviews, and to oversee the heavily overcrowded competitive online presence on top of updating menus and maintaining hygiene standards is a tough grind. That’s where the marketing software companies come into the picture, which has been a blessing to the restaurant industry post the Covid-19 pandemic.

 With millennials and Gen Z’s preference to working remotely and dining out becoming prominent, restaurants have to move their menus online. Meal kits and dinner box deliveries have proven that people want daily, healthy meals to be delivered home. Online reviews by authentic users and social media influencers available at no cost are the critical decision-making parameters that sway a prospect to a customer. So, with all the backend engineering and the employment it generates, the restaurant industry can now be considered a primary sector. A successful online presence warrants the need for digital marketing: announcing your presence to the digital world.

Digital marketing is a complicated process of targeting and managing prospects, customers, & advocates. Software companies that manage these restaurant profiles ought to have dedicated professionals working 24×7. As customers’ every move and every silence is tracked by the search engines, more so with ever-evolving digital platforms and new algorithms. This tracking provides the data that feeds a restaurant’s digital process. Reaching customers is a good starting point and could be done via email marketing, content management, presence on relevant social media platforms, and website optimization. With consistency in these initial steps, to be on the top pages of search engines is an arduous ultimate step for the success of any online business. 

As shown in Table 1, customer adoption of digital technologies to order food is rising. Besides these, generating QR codes helps reach customers without being lost in transit.

I did not do this before the pandemic and have not done it since its onset (%)I do this somewhat or much less now than I did before the pandemic’s onset (%)I do this about the same as I did before the pandemic’s onset (%)I do this some or much more than I did before the pandemic’s onset. (%)
Using the phone to call in an order for pickup18.515.724.141.7
Buying food from a restaurant’s website27.814.319.338.6
Using mobile order-ahead to order food from restaurants to eat at home30.313.717.938.1
Ordering food delivery using aggregators such as Grubhub or UberEats49.211.413.126.2

  Table1: Altered activities related to eating food from restaurants [2] 

Digital marketing also incorporates AI (Artificial Intelligence) techniques to gauge customer preferences and trends. This automation helps businesses identify any short-comings in their services and address the pain points of their customers and the restaurants, too, improving the dining experience.  

Profiling and targeting prospects require great attention to detail. Is our customer a fitness freak or a vegan or seafood lover? What demographics do they fit? Social media platform statistics show the demographics of their audience: age, gender, location, ethnicity, etc. So, a restaurant’s existence on social media yields dividends in ways that never existed before. Its analytics give precise information about target customers. A digital marketing software company and restaurant business complement each other to be digitally successful and exist in the future. 

With software marketing tools in place, digital marketing bridges the gap between the customers and restaurants. 

Customer Segmentation involves:

  • Demographic Segmentation
  • Psychographic Segmentation
  • Geographic Segmentation
  • Behavioral Segmentation

Digital Marketing targets these customers by:

  • Email Marketing
  • PPC Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Content Marketing
  • QR Code Generation
  • Feedback Management
  • App Marketing
  • Personalized Marketing
  • SEO Marketing

With the changes in people’s lifestyles, the restaurant industry must embrace digital technologies more so post-pandemic. Consequently, accessibility to design and procure food by the touch of a finger should be ubiquitous. The recent AI trends enabling this digital marketing revolution should help pave the way for the future of any restaurant business, thus making it immune to any future pandemics.


[1] QSR Magazine 


Scars are good!

Scars are good. Even better are those that get deep involving pain and bless the bearer with tenacity and perseverance. A well-led life has gone through the crests and troughs of life. A life that’s awash with unexpected predicaments and evolved a winner passing many priceless heat tests can relish the real fun in life, the joy that’s above and beyond cash flows and back-scratching.

It was exactly eight years ago we had had a burglary that filled me with trauma and made me spill hot boiling oil on my calf that gave me nearly third-degree burns. I feel that was the culmination of my depression from suffering. The suffering resulted from a constant conflict between hard work and luck, fate and destiny, and rupture and rapture. That accident resulting in the unfolding of many shocking events was the pinnacle of my combats. Then on, I feel I’m invincible. That physical scar still helps me deal with any emotional scar gracefully.

Coming back to that December incident when my younger one was a months baby, the older one was not even 5, was a life lesson. Doing maths between time and distance, we ruled out visits by family  Friends who were frequent weekend- stayers at ours announced they wouldn’t come over to help my husband, who was struggling with visits to the burns unit at the local hospital where my months baby wasn’t allowed. They never came back to us to date—one of many examples of good riddance.

Right then, the angel who imbibed confidence and infused life back into me stepped in. That friendship burnt the ambiguity in me if I had to change myself to suit the selfish people around or hang on there for the right time and right people.  

Then on, no looking back. I feel I can see beyond the masks that people wear. Yet, I feel amused and blessed when people use my time and emotions in the name of friendships and relations. That’s where some lives start and stop. I made an oath not to change myself; should I change, I let those precious people who define ‘life in life’ bringing the contentment through spirituality slip through!

Yes, I am a proud owner of certain precious friendships that don’t expect me to scratch their backs, nor extend me any party invites that are put forth based on people’s financial status and glossy outlooks. They accept me as I am! They introduced me to the concept of humanism. At this juncture, how can I not express my gratitude to my parents who raised us (me and my sister) on moral grounds! I should also not ignore my husband’s acceptance of my ideologies and give me a free hand to inculcate these values and principles in my children. Pray, I, along with these other precious friends, stand tall with these time-tested values! This chosen path may leave us with scars, but they are worthy.

Scars are beautiful. A life that hasn’t experienced those isn’t complete. A life marked with scars helps one see the simple joys of life, teaches one to be happy for others, be part of other’s pains, and allows one to weave human relations. How one deals with scars defines that life.

If scars force one to be self-centered, then one hasn’t learnt the art of living.
Scars that guide one’s life to be empathetic are a blessing to the world.
Lucky lives remain oblivious to scars, but those are empty lives.
Those who never experienced scars yet, are benevolent are the angels. 

My scars help me be a simple human being. All I have is a great family, friends, and angels who lift me.
Trust me when I say scars are good.