Less, Longer, More expensive.
These 3 words perfectly summarize the post Corona hospitality industry according to true. food agency. After having experienced the standstill as not only a co-hospitality industry operator with true. food agency but also as co-initiator of the think-tank 'horeca next', we as a food agency are in an excellent position to give an idea of what the Belgian post Corona might look like.
We maintain that it’s not covid-19 that is the game-changer, but that the measures taken by our government are at the root of the shift.
In our perspective, however, covid-19 remains the accelerator of many phenomena that were already happening before this crisis.
Post Corona, we might be faced with less hospitality businesses. The shake out within the sector was already ongoing before the pandemic existed.
The Belgian hospitality industry is in terms of supply, quantitatively too generous as we live on too large a foot.
Let's compare with The Netherlands:
NL has on 17.28 mio inhabitants about 68.5K hospitality businesses (=68.6685 to be exact), Belgium on 11.3 mio has about 59 K hospitality businesses (= 59.197 to be exact).
That is for NL: 1 Hospitality business for each 250 inhabitants, for us that's 1 per 200 Belgian inhabitants.
If we want to follow the example of The Netherlands, which according to many people would be economically healthier, this could be 44,841 hospitality businesses in Belgium... which means 14,300 fewer hotel and catering businesses.
Apart from Corona, those hospitality industry businesses will survive the know-how to organize themselves better in the future. The ones that start from a realistic business plan, who do not sail blindly because of the lack of real-time data. These are the things that chains and formulas did well before the crisis and will continue to benefit from in the future.
Last weekend's edition of ‘De Tijd’ draws a similar conclusion: stating that hospitality chains will continue to dominate the hospitality industry's street scene. Should we as consumers be pleased with that? As long as the product offer and experience are top notch, and there is still enough choice and space for neophytes among the catering concepts, we believe not.
What a good 3 months of closure in the first wave - but especially the 9 months of uninterrupted closure in the second wave - has yielded is a tremendous brain-drain in the hospitality sector. A lot of human capital has left because of the long periods of waiting around at home and falling back on a minimum income. Talented people, driven by the desire to pamper their guests, gave up. The catering jobs were exchanged for a common nine to five job with the added advantage of more family time, including weekends and vacations. From now on, it will be harder and harder to find good staff for the many vacancies in the hospitality industry. On top of that, earnings were traditionally not that great in the hospitality industry, and a bit of “dirty money” and tips were often a pleasant addition. So in terms of jobs, the post corona period barometer shows "heavy weather". The government and the sector in general will have to find a suited answer to this issue if they are willing to defend hospitality as an asset. Lower payroll costs, better agreements and salaries will have to be the driving force behind new talent. In the meantime, Belgian consumers will simply have to wait a bit longer for their order and a suitable smile will be harder to find for the hospitality operators.
Traditionally, the Belgian hospitality industry is not one of the most expensive in Europe. Especially if you consider the actual cost price of food and drinks, and if you factor in the expensive labor costs. Anyone who wants to work towards healthy ratios within his business plan will therefore be forced to start raising prices. After the long and forced closures in the past period, perhaps now is the ideal time to make that correction. Some entrepreneurs in the hospitality industry in major Belgian cities are already talking about an extra half a euro that they would like to charge for a coffee, pint or soft drink. The government is trying to counteract this with a temporary VAT reduction. Honestly, this VAT reduction will help many people to partially fill up the covid-19 pit, but in our opinion, it will not be able to avoid a general price increase.
Post Corona, we will be confronted with a new style of hospitality industry. The trick will be to retain a piece of authentic Belgitude within this. So, let's all work together to gain qualitative catering with friendly staff and a good healthy price setting. true. food. agency and our sister company real. space. agency will therefore throw all our talent into the balance to take on this battle.
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