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Events hospitality has been one of the sectors hit hardest by COVID-19. And while it remains a long road to returning to a life similar to what it used to be, Jon Davies, managing director of Levy UK + Ireland, strongly believes that recovery is eminently possible.
“Seeing fans return to the O2, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, SSE Wembley Arena and elsewhere allowed us to demonstrate that it is possible to deliver safe and enjoyable experiences in venues despite the pandemic,” he said. His team has used the forced downtime “doing a tremendous amount of work behind the scenes with our venue partners to prepare for their safe return, and to ensure that they continue to have the exciting and memorable experiences they remember from before lockdown.”
The return will be driven by technology, not just cashless but other innovations such as digital screens and apps, allowing for preordering food and beverages with delivery at designated drop points. “Our next step is to further develop the technology we are using to move towards a truly frictionless experience for the attendee. By installing contactless payment terminals and sophisticated imaging technology, we would be able to create ‘digital baskets’ for each customer, removing the need for customers and employees to interact physically at all in the style of an Amazon Go store. This has the potential to be a game-changer long after the pandemic has been and gone,” Davies said.
Levy, which didn’t lose a single client during the pandemic, extended most of its deal terms and added four new venues, also intends to lead the way in terms of sustainability. Said Davies: “We must use the current climate as an opportunity to challenge value perceptions around the styles and service of the food that we deliver. Guests need to be offered proper, well-sourced, unprocessed food with natural ingredients that demands less from the environment. We have drawn plans for a total ban of air freight in the transport of our produce. Hospitality providers should also look to deliver smaller menus built around more seasonal produce, facilitated by more local suppliers, and utilizing more of the animal or vegetable to reduce waste.”
“We must use the current climate as an opportunity to challenge value perceptions around the styles and service of the food that we deliver.”