What’s next for retail and hospitality?

The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly affected our economy and society, accelerating major changes in business strategies, digital transformation, and productivity measures. Hospitality and retail (industries that heavily relied on personal interactions) were immediately impacted. These industries had to reimagine their business landscapes and quickly adopt e-commerce, digitalization, artificial intelligence, and automation to continue providing a personalized experience to customers in addition to face-to-face interaction.

On February 24th, the Greater Washington Board of Trade and knowledge partner APCO Worldwide, hosted its fourth installment on the Future of Work Series with the Future of Retail & Hospitality. Licy Do Canto, Managing Director at APCO Worldwide moderated the discussion with panelists Christine Kettmer, Senior Director, Global Enterprise Insight & Strategy at Marriott International, Karen Strack, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW), and Chad Horrell, Senior Manager, Government Affairs Eastern Region at Doordash as they shared their insights and experiences within the marketplace.

For many companies across these industries, navigating local municipality mandates, ordinances and health protocols was the primary challenge at first but once clear messaging was established, the focus returned to the customer. While safety always remains a top priority for both staff and guests, mobility played a key role in returning to normal-like business levels. Whether it was a mobile key sent to a smartphone when guests checked into a hotel property, contactless and secure delivery of food items from a dasher, and even order online and curbside pick-up from a shopping center, these all drove customer acquisition.

The great resignation tried to hinder economic recovery, but companies acted quickly to increase salary ranges, drive flexibility in workplace options, add to employee perks and benefits, and offer up retention bonuses. Restaurants quickly adopted QR code focused menus instead of endlessly printing menus, saving on costs and at the same time advancing environmental and sustainability goals.

Key takeaways:

  • Marriott’s new Design Lab is a center for innovation, working in tandem with partners and startups to improve upon future guest experiences, mockups of future guest rooms, improvements to mechanical operations and more.
  • DoorDash has a commanding market share of online delivery apps, and they see no slowing down. They saw an increase of 35% in sales in 2021 even with indoor dining returning to the fold so the market has room to grow.
  • Unibail-Rodamco Westfield’s sales have returned to pre-pandemic levels. A strategy of mixed-use retail with tenants including medical, automotive, restaurant and even residential proved to be highly successful.

The economy is bouncing back, and in fact unleashing a pent-up demand for products, goods, and services. Data and automation are driving better customer experiences and retention. Companies need to remain nimble and flexible in order to keep both the customer and employees happy.

We would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank our sponsors for making this series possible: Crown Castle, Bank of America, Verizon, APCO Worldwide, and McKinsey & Company.

If you missed the event, watch the full recording here.