George Dfouni says virtual Is no longer the answer

When the pandemic hit the industry, everything shook. The U.S. lost 4 million jobs in hospitality. We were one of the most vulnerable: an industry that prides itself on great service and personal interaction. Thanks to the amazing workforce, our grit, and perseverance, we made it through. 

The companies that fared the best in the beginning were already involved in innovation and forward-thinking processes. Most of these had virtual solutions. Their successful virtual strategy took off and grew. What was their advantage? They innovated before they needed to.

These virtual businesses already had customers and guests that were familiar with the process. Unlike many companies during the pandemic, they did not have to educate customers or train staff on how to use it. They didn’t need a new marketing campaign to notify the market. They benefited from future-thinking strategies.

Today, virtual is no longer the future. It is expected and if your company is not utilizing the technologies available, now is the time to catch up before it’s too late.

In 2020, Americans spent 7 minutes more on average on social media, despite a concern they were spending too much time on it the year before. The attitude of “time well spent” and needs are changing. People want physical interaction and virtual solutions that are on-demand and integrated. 

Hybrid solutions give guests the option for physical and virtual interaction harmonized together.

“Business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming.” – Richard Branson

George Dfouni further explains Imagine you are hosting a conference for business leaders. You have limited occupancy at the convention center. People are restrained by time and location. But people also crave localized and intimate interaction, so you have it available. You also have a virtual option which multiplies your occupancy.

Now imagine a hybrid setting. Someone walks into the conference and meets people. They quickly get connected to a Slack channel where they can easily chat with people at the center or far away online. They hear the main speaker give her talk. During breakouts, you go to a designated area and join a virtual session with people on-site and people from all over the world. 

Anyone who has disabilities with additional on-site needs can easily get captions and aids through the virtual technologies available. 

When you visit some of the sponsored booths, you see something you like. Perhaps you have more detailed questions that the representative can’t answer right away. No problem. They give you a tablet that video calls one of their specialists. You save time and can make the best decision. 

You walk away and see some merchandise. You want it but your luggage can barely close. So you scan a QR code, purchase it, and it arrives at your home in three days.

Your colleague joins you virtually because she’s had to travel for business to manage one of your accounts. She has a great time and wants to meet some of the attendees in person. She uses a localization feature that connects her with virtual attendees in the same city. The following day they meet at a coffee shop and finish the conference together. 

How We Can All Utilize Hybrid Solutions

“There is incredible value in being of service to others.” Elizabeth Berg

Now you have a quick idea of what the future could look like. Many brands are already doing it and the technology exists. The only step is to invest in the strategy, resources, and training to make it possible. 

It’s important to start simple. We don’t want to create fancy features and options without a purpose. Decide what your guests need and how you can fulfill it from wherever they are and whenever they want it. 

The world has changed. Before the pandemic, most of us closely interacted with people. The pandemic put everyone home and much of the workforce moved into work from home environments. Today, social preferences are split, and needs and habits have changed for society.

A hybrid strategy positions us for the future.

George Dfouni is the former CEO of Independent Hospitality Group, specializing in extraordinary guest service and effective market penetration. Through strategic planning, marketing initiatives, and management, George has a proven track record as a leader in the industry. He’s passionate about empowering teams to serve guests with remarkable experiences.