Lockdown; delivery and take out; Eat Out to Help Out; the Rule of Six; 10pm Curfew and #cancelthecurfew, all in as many months - 2020 has been a hospitality rollercoaster. If you can predict the next challenge or opportunity for the industry, then you're probably a Government advisor!
Maybe limiting the time you can spend in the pub or the number of drinks you can have before you're no longer considered Covid-safety compliant? God forbid!
One thing is certain: the operators who will survive this pandemic are thought-leaders and activists. They are the ones who are in a two-way dialogue with their customers, clearly communicating their policies and gauging customer feeling. They are pushing back against Government policy - #cancelthecurfew - and feeding back from the frontline where things aren't working via the media and industry bodies. They are positively turning challenges into opportunity. Agile decision-making and creative revenue generating ideas are the order of the day!
I've seen one or two good examples of operators who are creatively drumming up business and give us some good news.
A local food hall, café and deli operator, Macknade, who champion local producers and businesses, are running a Virtual Dog Show to celebrate patrons' pooches, remind people that they can bring their dogs with them to dine out and raise money for the local Happy Endings Animal Rescue sanctuary. This is a lovely social media initiative that can only keep them top of mind and cement their community spirit.
I've blogged before about maximising all of those eating and drinking out opportunities. Well that's even more true now, as the night-time economy is squeezed further. Brunches, coffees, lunches, tea breaks and early evening suppers have all become even more crucial in ensuring a steady stream of custom.
Yummy Pubs are quite literally turning the curfew on its head - 10am is the new 10pm - promoting brunch and Bloody Mary - sounds very appealing but it won't change the fact that they're having to box-up customers' puddings to make sure they are out of the pub by 10pm!
A night out at the pub just became a not so relaxing prospect unfortunately....and there is still a large portion (just under a third, according to polls) of the public who aren't happy to eat out. It must be hard to remain positive if you're an operator, so hats off to those who are making the best of things, innovating and providing safe environments for customers who are prepared to brave it and support them. Hang on in there, the ride is far from over....
As fundraisers go, Cancer Research’s Race for Life must surely be one of the most inspired and enduring charity fundraising events. Their 5k walk, jog or run offers something for everyone. With a manageable distance and a relaxed attitude to how you complete it, even the non-runners can feel a sense of achievement and bask in the instantly recognisable fuchsia pink glow of the Race for Life brand. It appeals to the masses because of course cancer is something that affects everyone and we all want to feel that we can do something positive to turn the tide.
This year, like so many other life-threatening illnesses, cancer has taken something of a backseat to Coronavirus. So, in some ways, this year’s Race for Life was even more crucial in keeping this relentless killer front of mind and continuing to raise much needed funds.
A Very 2020 Race for Life was my first official 5K. I’d always assumed that you needed to be a runner to do something like this, but thankfully – for someone who is not a keen runner - walking or jogging is completely acceptable. So, when I recently lost my uncle to cancer, after several years of intermittent battles on his part, I felt compelled to do something positive to honour his memory. Enlisting the support of my two daughters – Amelie and Maya - plus the hubby and the puppy, we registered, appealed for donations on Facebook and looked forward for the big day to arrive.
In some ways it felt easier not to be joining a big crowd of participants this year – I’m not really a crowd lover. Setting up our giving page and using the Cancer Research digital resources was super easy - and thank goodness - as I’d only committed a week before race day. Being part of the Race for Life Facebook community page and joining the livestream on race day gave us a sense of being part of something bigger. Reading the stories of some of the participants over the weekend leaves you feeling somewhat in awe when you learn what people have been through and yet some-how they find the strength to participate.
We chose to walk / jog our Race for Life on the seafront at Hythe, sporting our fuchsia pink hoodies – (brilliant colour choice as it matches your post-race glow!) We were aiming to complete it in under 50 minutes, which we just about managed. Most importantly, with the support of generous family and friends, we raised more than £250! Not bad for beginners.
Race for Life is a brilliant brand that works hard for Cancer Research by embracing the community at large – old and young, big and small, fast and slow, healthy and in-recovery. It's inclusive and the sense of community brings you in for that all-important (albeit virtual for now) group hug.
Clare Pope, always has her head in a book - current read After the End by Clare Mackintosh