The Future of the Hospitality Industry Post-Pandemic & QR Codes

As the shockwaves of the pandemic blasted through the world, industries globally felt the sharp effect of newly-imposed lockdowns and restrictions. But when planes were forced to take ground and restaurants had to close their doors to diners, one industry suffered more than most: the hospitality industry.

For restaurateurs and hoteliers, it’s devastating. After all, it’s an industry that relies on providing face-to-face service and personal connections, which is why it’s no wonder that business owners are concerned about how they can best adapt to the future.

After a tough time, there’s some good news. The road to recovery might not be as long as you anticipated. With a shift to contactless and digital alternatives, your industry can pick itself up, and get back to serving diners, welcoming guests, and taking travelers on their adventures once again – all is not lost. 

Embracing technology in the hospitality industry with a digital alternative: QR Codes

QR Code marketing has huge potential for all sorts of businesses. But its broader applications are practical, too. As things start to reopen, there’s a need to provide contactless solutions: things like a QR Code menu for restaurants that customers can simply scan to view, or using a Hotel QR Code to streamline your guests’ experience, for example.

As a restaurateur, hotel manager, or other hospitality professional, you can use QR Codes to help you gear up for the future – from providing payments, menus, check-ins, and much more. For inspiration, take a squizz through our library of case studies that can show you the practical applications of QR Codes in real-life situations.

What is the hospitality industry?

The hospitality industry comprises a range of businesses focused on food and beverage service, as well as lodging, such as; hotels, bars, and restaurants, but also secondary industries like event management and travel.

Tourism — which includes the hospitality industry — is one of the world’s biggest employers: up to 109 million people have jobs related to the industry. In some countries, such as Greece, where tourism makes up 25% of GDP, it’s a vital part of the economy. 

The tourism and the hospitality industry does more than provide amazing experiences for travelers: it’s an important economic driver. And while the coronavirus pandemic might have left the industry shell-shocked, there’s still a chance for recovery.

But who are the hospitality heroes who serve, shuttle, and feed happy diners and tourists? 

The tourism industry can include everyone from:

  • Tour operators
  • Tourist attractions
  • Cruises
  • Car rental
  • Hotels & accommodation
  • Means of travel: airlines, trains, buses

What can the hospitality sector do to get through the coronavirus?

Or perhaps the question should be: does the hospitality industry even have a future?

While foreign travel remains out of bounds for some, the rise in staycations — visiting vacation spots closer to home — is a sure indication that the public’s appetite for travel hasn’t waned. 

Despite the drawbacks and uncertainties possessed by the pandemic, there’s still a future for hospitality. 

So that your hospitality business can meet the expectations of a post-pandemic world, there are 2 main strategies you can focus on: getting the most out of digital marketing tools and making your processes contactless and safe for customers.

Find new audiences with digital tools

When indoor dining was first prohibited in many cities and countries, many businesses found alternative means of staying afloat. For example, some restaurants started offering meal kits and take-out in place of regular dinner service, while others promoted vouchers that customers could use for future visits when the initial wave of the pandemic had died down.

For other hospitality businesses reliant on an influx of tourists from further afield, this meant trying to attract locals to take part in tours, or offering ‘experiences’ closer to home, instead of taking in the sights on a city break.

To inform customers of this required a shift to digital channels: communicating on social media instead of in-person, promoting offerings to a whole new audience.

To prepare your hospitality business for a post-pandemic future, a QR Code marketing strategy can help you stay ahead of the pack. How? Taking notes from other fully-digital businesses — such as e-commerce — will help. 

No matter if you’re a tour operator or restaurant, you’ll want to incorporate digital tools into your business to keep your head above the waters —  and keep up with the digital trends. There’s never been a more pivotal time to embrace QR Codes.

Going contactless

Many businesses within the hospitality industry have already adopted touch-free processes to stay agile during the coronavirus pandemic. From switching over to mobile payments, apps for personalized services, digital check-ins, and more, guests can now enjoy an enriching and a more digitized hospitality experience — all stress-free. And the data doesn’t lie either: millennials — 70% of them, mind you, prefer a contactless hotel experience. 

The advantages of using technology in the hospitality industry are that businesses can eliminate unnecessary interactions, adhere to social distancing protocols, and reduce the risk of contracting the virus. 

Migrating to touchless tech doesn’t have to be rocket science either. You could start small by incorporating contactless payments with QR Codes.

The great digital menu debate

These days, it’s hard to visit a restaurant or other hospitality business without finding a QR Code somewhere on a table. And before you think it’s just one of those trends in the hospitality industry, consider this: The shift from print menus to digital menus has been a lifeline for the restaurant industry waiting for the doors to re-open after a long-drawn-out lockdown. 

Restaurants have had to go back to the drawing board, rethink, and strategize how to adapt to more digital practices. Including QR Codes in your contingency plan is a way to build momentum in your business. 

Diners may have reservations about the digital menu because, with online menus, restaurants are able to track behavior, gauge exactly how many people are looking at their menus, and which meals their eyes gravitate towards. But restaurants can use this data to know just what meals make customers’ mouths water — a happy customer, a happy restaurant. 

Needless to say, digital menus are here to stay. Don’t fret though, QR Codes are your trusted allies amid the coronavirus pandemic. Get inspired to create your own QR Code menu for restaurants. 

How QR Codes in the hospitality industry promote digital channels

If you’re searching for tools to make your marketing and customer communication processes simple, then look no further than QR Codes. Nowadays, QR Codes have developed much further than their simple black and white ancestors and have a wide range of applications — both during the coronavirus and after. And there are a plethora of QR Codes types at your disposal. 

They help with social distancing and are easy to use

Anyone with a smartphone can scan QR Codes, whether it’s directly with a camera or with a third-party app. Furthermore, QR Code size needs to be big enough so that users are able to scan even when they’re farther away. You want to ensure that the QR Code is the proper size so users don’t need to physically touch anything to use them. 

Due to these factors, QR Codes have been one of the most valuable technologies during the coronavirus because they help companies and organizations make their processes safer by adhering to social distancing rules with contactless payments and information sharing.

A Tripadvisor rating QR Code on a poster in a restaurant.
The perfect size of a Tripadvisor Rating QR Code.

QR Code types for every need

QR Codes also do a whole lot more than just connect to websites (although that’s pretty handy, too!). QR Codes can also be used to share images, videos, sound files, social media links, and digital coupons, and even enable automatic event registration and ticketing. 

So whenever you add them to a print or digital image, a user only needs to scan the QR Code, and they’ll automatically be directed to a display page that includes whichever content you would like to share. The display pages are completely customizable for your brand and also include links to your website or landing pages.

Alternatively, if you would like to use QR Codes on digital platforms, your content is converted into a QR Code short URL that speeds up the loading times, looks better on graphic designs than long links, and is more secure.

3 examples of QR Code display pages for an airline, library, and seminar.
Examples of QR Code display pages.

Streamlines print to digital

The main reason QR Codes have become so popular is that they have brought new life to the print advertising industry. Without QR Codes on print advertisements like QR Codes on Billboards or QR Codes in Magazines, it’s hard to tell what actions a user took as a result of viewing that ad. Furthermore, if your goal is to encourage users to visit a digital platform, readers have to find some way to do that separately from the ad, which is simply too inconvenient. QR Codes resolve this issue because they connect print to digital mediums in a manner that’s convenient both for consumers and for marketers.

A tourism-related QR Code makes an appearance in print magazine advertisements.
An apt example of a tourism industry business using QR Codes on a print magazine ad.

Hospitality industry examples: how the hospitality sector harnesses the power of QR Codes

When it comes to the tourism industry, in particular, there are so many ways that travel and hospitality-related businesses can use QR Codes to their advantage. The following sections outline a few ideas to give you some inspiration.

#1 Virtual tours

Virtual tours are one of the best ways to create interest in a particular travel destination or tourism service. Many tourism industry businesses decided to follow suit in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s often the case that the virtual tour takes place through a particular app, so you need an easy way to connect users with your app. Here’s where QR Codes can lend a helping hand. 

You can use an App QR Code and showcase your app, perhaps with some videos or images, and then include automatic links to the app stores. This makes it simple for users to download your exact app and not have to search for it separately. You could then promote your App QR Code via email marketing, social media ads, or even on your office window to help get the word out.

A travel agency promoting virtual tours and a QR Code to download the agency's app.
A travel agency promotes virtual tours by encouraging customers to download their app.

#2 App promotion via social media

Using a similar concept as the above section, travel businesses can also use QR Codes to promote their apps for mobile shopping. More and more tourism businesses have begun developing their own mobile apps to make it easier for customers to make purchases on the go and via mobile. 

Take advantage of this consumer behavior and expand your reach on mobile devices. Skyscanner is a perfect example of an innovative mobile app that has even more functionality than its desktop website. So, you can also use an App QR Code here as well or you could opt for a Social Media QR Code. For social media ads, Instagram, in particular, would be an ideal platform to promote it. 

A travel agency promotes their mobile travel deals on Instagram using an App QR Code.
A travel agency promotes an App QR Code with Instagram ads to drive traffic to mobile and encourage purchasing.

#3 Travel package vouchers

We mentioned above that vouchers are one way that tourism industry businesses can continue to generate revenue during coronavirus. If you create those vouchers with a Coupon QR Code, you can then place them in email marketing campaigns to drive traffic to mobile purchasing platforms.

A Coupon QR Code offering a 50% discount on river kayaking courses and other travel deals.
An agency promotes coupons for their mobile travel deals with a Coupon QR Code in email marketing.

#4 Billboard ads

If you would like to promote a local tourism business, billboard and poster ads can be a great way to engage customers in your area. There are multiple ways of using QR Codes for this. For example, you can send readers directly to your website with a Website QR Code, or you could promote videos for a particular travel experience with a Video QR Code and then direct users to a purchasing landing page through the CTA (call-to-action) button on the QR Code display page.

A travel agency uses a Video QR Code on a billboard for promotional purposes.
A travel agency promotes travel videos with a Video QR Code on a poster ad.

There’s a lot that the hospitality industry has had to face in the last 2 years of the coronavirus pandemic. But with some marketing resources, strategic planning, and using QR Codes in the hospitality industry, your business can make the ultimate comeback. Mobilize your team to brainstorm thoughtful digital practices to adapt to the new normal. Remember: the future is digital. 

Author
Robyn Albertyn

Robyn Albertyn is a content writer for Bitly from Cape Town, South Africa. She’s previously written about preventative health and wellness, and specializes in creative writing and copywriting. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her hiking up majestic mountains, or discovering the best coffee hotspots in her city. Feel free to say hi to her on LinkedIn.

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