There are new opportunities yet to be unlocked by Entrepreneurs in the Event Industry: Manvir Singh Anand
While covid 19 has incurred heavy losses to the event industry and its allied sectors, it has also forced us to look at some new opportunities that could shape the industry over the next few years writes Manvir Singh Anand, Founder, Knight Gourmet.
"The only thing constant in life, is change" - A new dimension can be deciphered post-Covid 19 for this quote. With the lockdown in the country, the hospitality, travel and Live events sector has witnessed a major downfall. As per an Industry report by research firm, Hotelivate, an estimated loss of at least Rs 620 crore will be faced by the Indian Hospitality Industry with Q4 FY2020 and Q1 FY2021 bearing the maximum losses. Further, the events industry’s loss so far has been estimated at around Rs 3,000 crore as per the Event and Entertainment Management Association (EEMA). Now in this scenario, it’s not just the broad sectors, but the entire supply chain including the Event Hospitality Industry comprising Caterers, Event Food Court Operators & restaurants who have faced a beating with no clear roadmap. They are stuck with pending receivables resulting in delayed payables and blocked inventories. Apart from the loss of life which India has seen, the economic detriment which the country is about to face cannot be neglected. The Event Hospitality Industry is no less since due to the cancellations of events and gatherings, the industry is facing tough times.
There are many lessons which can be learned by the industry, more so by the F&B & Catering Industry in India. Having a detailed pulse and update of the Event Hospitality ecosystem in the country, it has evolved and changed forever. While the concept of catering to tens of thousands of people will vanish for some time, there are new opportunities yet to be unlocked by Entrepreneurs in the Industry.
The Industry should consider the following guiding principles to survive and bounce back despite these trying and testing times –
~Collaborative Resource Sharing – Ironically, It took us a pandemic to realize the value of a lean business model. It’s not the size of the wallet which matters in today’s time but the capacity of that wallet to sustain you through the end. The definite suggestion is to share kitchen space, equipment, non-competing networks, backend inventories and talent capabilities. In fact as a knee jerk reaction, while there is a sudden surge in Catering Companies opening cloud kitchens, it’s critical to realize that supply has to be compensated with demand. Giving vacant space to another budding restaurateur or partnering up with an existing brand by leveraging your on-roll staff can be a win-win instead of starting from scratch and trying to make a name in a new evolved contact-less and face-less world.
~Find your micro-niche – While the upcoming business remains sluggish, one fact is clear that now there is no major differentiator between larger players and the beginners, since the size of gatherings is restricted to 50 pax. This can be a good time, if newer or existing players can build their niche in terms of a particular cuisine, client segment, differentiated brand positioning or a specific geography. Specialization is the need of the hour for better brand recall.
~Differentiated focus on Safety, Health and Hygiene – Gone are the days, where FSSAI licenses were mere compliance with absolute no physical verifications done at Kitchens. Come late 2020, new norm would be following HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) certification for kitchens which should become the new norm. Better Compliance translates better value proposition to client. However, the focus has shifted from beautiful and fancy table-scaping to the basics - hygiene and quality of ingredients.
~Pricing Equilibrium – The result of a lean season can sometimes be desperate sales, pushing the price parity of the market down. Focus on your niche and collaboratively try to compete on the quality of work and not on prices. The customer should have the last laugh from a quality stand-point rather than rock-bottom pricing. No matter the size of your company, develop an industry-driven mindset to do quality work while cultivating a decent profit. The last impediment hitting a marred industry should not be their industry peers.
~Harness the power of the Gig Economy – Have you been considering doing an in-depth F&B Menu revamp? Service-ware planning? Working on your brand’s digital positioning? Or any other topic. With the rampant levels of furloughs and layoffs - on-demand services especially helping hands, operations team, consultants and designers will become more readily available and will help to cater to sudden spurts or short-term assignments. The key focus for any business owner should be to convert their fixed costs into variable costs until there is sufficient clarity. Though there can be a big opportunity in trying to organize that market.
~Times demand you to be Omnipresent – A beautiful quote sums this up, “During good times you should advertise but during bad times, you must advertise” – Shared by advertising pioneer Bruce Barton. Be visible, be active and engage in worthwhile conversations with the industry; from peers, clients to the supply chain. Relationships can be forged in each contact sphere.
In conclusion, having a contrarian view, the trend of Catered events will increase in times to come since people will prefer to have smaller and more intimate gatherings at the comfort of their homes and offices instead of bars and cafes. India is a festival economy with over 50+ small and big occasions lined up only, in the residential and non-commercial segment itself. Further, a positive update with the new set of Hybrid events, specifically Product Launches which are happening and are planned are innovating and indenting packed “hampers” like exotic cheese platters, fusion handmade sweets, Goodie etc. for the Influencer community in real time. This is adding a special brand engagement opportunity and “experiential” feel to these events.
So, by keeping strong fundamentals, cost-consciousness and strict control on quality and hygiene – the future looks bright and industry should bounce back.
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