Dubai Restaurant Week
There will be new rules of engagement for the UAE's F&B sector. And these changes would be for the best. Image Credit: Supplied

The biggest challenge after the pandemic would be to bring back social confidence in mankind. But any thought of return in confidence would need a medical solution, and clarity from governments that services are fully open and not restricted.

The blinkers would need to come off. And once they do, then - be it the retail units, hospitality and restaurants, educational institutions, entertainment venues, parks - all would need a paradigm shift in their view of hygiene.

There would need to be a lot more transparency in the manner we present the venue, ascertain that team members are well-trained on this aspect of the operations.

It had never been a topic of discussion in the past. It will be a well-focussed aspect moving forward.

No slip ups allowed

The new normal requires every company in the tourist sector to need to maintain the highest levels of hygiene standards. The brands that adhere to these revised standards before they become a governmental regulation will be the ones staying ahead of the curve.

What are some of the ideas one could implement as a new normal? I would say:

* Have thermal body temperature scanners installed at the entrance, which would alert abnormal body temperatures in guests – especially at hotels and malls.

* Restaurants can implement more rigorous table setting and clean-up practices after the guests leave, so that there is a clear shift of perception visible with the additional steps. These could possibly include wiping down each chair - instead of only wiping the surface of the table as per the erstwhile method.

* Going about aggressively to inform customers about the new hygiene standards, starting with a newsletter to your loyalty database and posting on your website and social media platforms.

• Having your janitor team clean public areas during the morning or afternoon peak times instead of after operational hours.

Knowing the huge concerns all around, the strong belief in the value ecosystem will evolve and come to the forefront. Enforcing brand ethos and the DNA of brand pillars – enrich, engage, belong and innovate - would play a vital role in the confidence building process.

Events that do not draw in large crowds would need to get reintroduced as a start – thus slowly encouraging public engagement. Innovative reasons would need to be offered so as to give people the reasons to come out.

Repeat outings will add to the confidence and again make it a habit.

Needs a relook

The format of service would need undergo a sea-change. Encourage tailor-made menu served in individual plates – move away from the concept of sharing.

Utilize the open spaces, airy venues, fresh colours, green plants – all of which add a very positive vibe to the atmosphere. It’s much needed to change the mood in the times ahead.

Observe how other countries are slowly turning around with opening up after the restrictions. Their people are encouraged to engage with the new normal of living with a virus. A medical solution is still a distant dream.

Let's seek out Mark Victor Hansen's words: “Don’t wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled..."

- Naim Maadad is Chief Executive of Gates Hospitality.