Dee Sturgess is an Associate Consultant for Bums on Seats and specialises in training with over 20 years working in the hospitality industry. Here she discusses how the industry has adapted over the last few months.

Over the last few weeks, the UK has been hit with another set of guidelines to adhere to in the global fight against COVID-19, with more potential restrictions announced this evening. From purely a financial aspect when COVID-19 first reared its ugly head at the start of 2020, hospitality was and will continue to be, the biggest impacted sector in the UK economy.

Since March I have been searching for a glimmer of something even remotely bright at the end of what seemed like a never-ending tunnel of gloom thanks to the ‘C word’. I am in no doubt of how real the loss to our industry has been and it’s easy to forget that in the midst of counting the loss in monetary value to hospitality, the human impact has been the biggest one.

However, looking past the murky business financials for our industry and all the challenges that this brings to each business, I have spotted some light at the end of the tunnel.

In having to think, act and trade differently as an industry, we have been forced into adapting and becoming more innovative than ever before. From menu apps that you can place orders through in your local pub, luxury hotels offering premium takeaways, to nightclubs that have reinvented their core trade; as an industry this is becoming a valuable time to re-evaluate and reinvent ourselves. Call it tradition or call it resistance to change, pubs, bars and restaurants in particular really haven’t changed significantly compared to other mass consumer-based industries. Our industry was well overdue in creating a more hybrid version of its former self.

Faster, harder, smarter

Now I’m not sugar coating this; we are going to have to run faster, work harder and be operationally smarter than ever before. But I am positive that this could bring some inspiring change to hospitality that we would never have embraced, if it hadn’t been forced upon us.

Due to COVID, visiting hospitality venues is now fast becoming a more pre-planned, pre-booked occasion than ever before. So, although the “ad-hock” after work drinks visits are diminishing as a combination of WFH culture and the new rule of 6 and 10pm curfew, pre-arranged visits are on the rise. And consumers want to come out. We know in all areas of hospitality and leisure that pre-booking results in a higher spend per person per visit along with a much higher expectation of guest experience from the customer. However, the great news is, if we know they’re coming, when and what they like, we can be even better!

Care and connection

Customers will want more information and a connected personable service when booking to be confident that their visit will be safe and meet their expectations. But by focusing on care and connection, businesses will be able to build much stronger brand loyalty and trust leading to improved reputation. The end to end process from point of booking right through to operational excellence has got to be tighter and better than ever before.  

We need to be entirely customer centric to retain our consumer confidence and in turn this will bring commercial benefit and business efficiency.

Yes, working with the “rule of 6” and 10pm curfew in the festive run up to Christmas trade is going to be really tough. And of course, for some pure late-night and high-volume venues potentially impossible. But by becoming more agile as an industry and adapting, along with some innovative thinking, we can all offer a more unique and memorable guest experience.

Dee is an Associate Consultant for Bums on Seats and specialises in training.  Dee has spent over 20 years working in the hospitality industry managing multiple venues and teams in both operations and sales.

You can find out more about becoming Business Resilient for Christmas 2020 by joining the Bums on Seats webinar with Propel on Wednesday 14th October 2pm – 4pm.

Tickets are £99 plus VAT for Propel Premium members, £149 plus VAT for operators and £199 plus VAT for suppliers. 

To book, email

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