COVID-19: Hospitality and Food Service Playbook

Make the most of your online presence and plan for the future.

Our thoughts are very much with our friends in hospitality and food service who have been so affected by the impact of COVID-19.  We want to help you where we can and we’ve created this playbook with some ideas to consider for your website.

Telling your customers what’s happening

Add a new stack of content onto your homepage to let customers know what is happening in your business and how best to keep up to date.  From the updates we’ve seen, customers are super sympathetic to their favourite local spot and they’ll be keen to support you when you re-open. 

You can make it easy for customers to keep up to date by making it easy for them to connect with your social media channels.  We also have a really nice integration with the Mailchimp email marketing system and by inviting people to sign up to get updates you’ll have a nice channel to communicate directly with customers when your doors are ready to open again.

Is prepared food an essential service?

In many countries takeaway shops have been required to close.  At time of writing this blog the official line in New Zealand is “Businesses involved in the supply, delivery, distribution and sale of food, beverage and other key consumer goods (but not takeaway shops)”.  See Essential Services List PDF download below.

The Prime Minister of New Zealand announced that ”Non-essential businesses in New Zealand must now close. All bars, restaurants, cafes, gyms, cinemas, pools, museums, libraries, playgrounds and any other place where the public congregate must close their face to face function”.

Industry associations are seeking clarification from the government on what is an essential service with regard to food preparation but at first reading it would appear that home delivery of food would be an essential service for many, particularly anyone who doesn’t have cooking facilities or is unable to cook.

Selling food online

If you do fit the bill as an essential service providing delivered food you might consider enabling the ecommerce function on your website.  If you are a Rocketspark client the ecommerce capability is sitting there ready to go within the shop settings in your website dashboard.

As you’ll likely have more than the 10 products available as standard on our Website Builder Plan we’d happily upgrade your plan for no additional cost for the next 3 months so please contact us if you’d like to utilise this feature.  

The two slowest parts of getting set up for online sales are the preparation of the shop content and setting up your online payment system.  Even if you are not planning on providing food delivery during the Level 4 lockdown you might consider preparing your online shop content in readiness for returning to lower levels of lockdown.  I spent an afternoon helping my sister-in-law prepare her Elspeth Bakery website for online sales and here is an example of a template for a bakery to bulk import the products into your Rocketspark site.  Note how the categories and filters are used to guide people to the products.

When setting up an online shop for food delivery there are a few things to consider:

  • Be clear about your service times
  • Use categories and filters to make it easy to find the products you are after
  • Contact us to add checkout fields to your site to enable clients to enter delivery dates
  • Stripe is a payment solution that is fast and easy to set up. If you already have a bank merchant account for your business it may be able to be easily connected with your website via Windcave or eWay who connect with a variety of bank merchant accounts.
  • Connect your website with Mailchimp ecommerce to build an audience to communicate with those who buy from you.

Notice on Elspeth bakery's website during the NZ Governments Level 2 + 3 restrictions

Notice on Elspeth bakery's website during the NZ Governments Level 4 restrictions

Will you have time to work on your website and blog content

My sister in-law Nic and her hubby Kayden run an amazing bakery called Elspeth in Mt Maunganui, New Zealand. They are so busy crafting their great range of breads, pastries and baked goods that updating their website always slips down the priority list.  

When I see all the effort that goes into testing and refining their products I’m always pestering them that their website doesn’t tell their story well enough and they are hiding their goodness (until people taste it!) and they need to be sharing more of their behind the scenes stories to let customers see the care and skill that goes into making the best croissants, breads and treats in New Zealand.  I’m hoping that they might use the lockdown period to do some work on their website so that their site will be working extra hard for them when they reopen their doors. 

Writing blogs is a sure-fire way to improve your search engine rankings so if you get tired of binge-watching 80’s box sets you can prepare your website for the world cranking up again by writing some helpful blogs on your website.  See our own blog about why bother with blogs.

Prepare your business for close down and get the support you need

The government, economic development agencies, banks and your customers really want to see you be able to come out the other side of this challenging time and there is quite a lot of support available.

The hospitality industry association have prepared a temporary business closure checklist for hospitality which covers off practical considerations such as cleaning, how to get financial support and mental wellbeing.

Need more help with your Rocketspark website?

We have a library of help guides available to you here. Still can't find what you're looking for? Please contact our Customer Success Team