The global COVID-19 pandemic has created a health and financial crisis and a devasting and unimaginable blow to the hospitality industry. But it also has created tremendous opportunity.
COVID-19 has accelerated the “Time of Tech” for the hospitality industry (which for us includes restaurants, hotels, stadiums and more), and deploying additional capital as well as making investments is the right course of action. Legendary investor Warren Buffet once said, “When others are greedy, be fearful, and when others are fearful, be greedy.”
It is time for the hospitality industry to embrace technology like never before in order to both survive and thrive. The global pandemic, more than any other recent phenomenon, has made the adoption and embracement of technology critically important in order to survive the new normal.
“The novel coronavirus crisis has challenged the industry in ways that we have never seen before, and technology is more important than ever,” noted my partner Michael Schatzberg, managing partner of Branded Restaurants and a partner at Branded Strategic Hospitality. “The adoption of high tech will be crucial for restaurants to continue to earn revenue in a socially distancing society.”
Contactless payments, for example, represent the heightened expectation from the customers in response to the COVID crisis. It’s not lost on long-standing restaurant owners and operators that the United States lagged far behind every other developed country with respect to hospitality payment solutions; even pay-at-the-table options were few and far between. As a result of COVID-19, the global consumer no longer wants credit cards to leave their wallet. Managing ordering and payments on smartphones will be the new normal. Branded’s partner Bbot shows just how much control over ordering and payments a restaurant can give its customers.
Branded’s portfolio of companies (which includes GoParrot, TapRm and Spirits Network) has experienced a spike in sales and associated customer acquisitions and are positioned as tactical and actionable solutions for the hospitality industry in response to the current crisis. When the restaurant shutdown was embraced by most states, Branded’s off-premise and mobile/touchless high-tech partner companies immediately demonstrated an ability and desire to be allies to the industry. Branded’s commitment to technology as a restaurant group for the past two decades and as a direct investor starting in early 2018 gave us a front row seat with respect to the technology companies that were truly positioned as allies to the industry.
Branded didn’t need to seek out or find the available solutions for an industry that would shift entirely to the off-premise market; we were already working with market leaders in their space. Native delivery, digital marketing and loyalty platform GoParrot created bespoke solutions for several of its clients that allowed users of this agile white-label delivery platform to not only survive the collapse of on-premise business but to exceed their pre-crisis sales and profit levels on off-premise business alone. GoParrot’s own financial performance exceeded even the company’s most optimistic projections and estimates. Given the demand for GoParrot’s services, Branded was uniquely positioned to deploy additional capital into the company to help them continue to deliver (pun intended) value and meet the demand from its customers. The additional capital was funded in real time and allowed GoParrot to stay focused on its customers and not divert attention to the funding that was needed to capitalize on the spike in demand.
We believe we’re at the intersection of hospitality, technology, innovation and capital. As restaurant owners and operators and hospitality technology investors and advisors, we feel our insights and “inside baseball” position brings value to our ecosystem.
The hospitality industry is as a resilient as any, and being agile and creative are two key attributes that the members of the hospitality community carry an abundance of.
Whatever you do, do not bet against them.
Branded Strategic Hospitality
235 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003