Innovation and technology: making it possible for all to re-open
Caring for customers, remodelling spaces, but above all, an on-going search for innovative solutions. Only in this way can re-opening become an opportunity to re-launch, for all the different sections of the Ho.Re.Ca industry. This is what companies are saying and the idea is being underscored by some of the undisputed masters of the profession, like Iginio Massari. “We will have to find new horizons through the pathways of research and technology,” says Italy’s number one pastry chef. And it is important also to realise that innovating is not just a prerogative of the big companies, as was made clear at all the most recent editions of the innovation hub that is Hostmilano. “It is a priority also for small and medium-sized catering, pastry-making and gelato concerns.” And that view is shared by one of the giants of Italy’s contract sector Emu, whose research centre has come up with a series of new ideas to respond to the need to redesign spaces. They include “a Plexiglas panel that produces a limited degree of social distancing, and allows establishments to keep the highest number of places inside.”
The search for solutions that will help get things going again quickly and sustainably is the path also chosen by Pavoni Italia. “This approach has led to the creation of a new kit for restaurants, hotels, patisseries, ice-cream parlours, companies and shops: a dedicated range of floor partitions and tabletop barriers (including customised products), useful as a response to social distancing requirements. Added to this are solutions that include a range of isothermal containers which are sturdy yet lightweight, and will keep food hot or cold for several hours. An ideal solution for food deliveries,” explains the firm’s marketing director, Paola Rossoni.
IFI has also placed its bets on the delivery business (with the launch of a professional instrument to transport artisanal gelato out of ice-cream parlours, in the form of a personal service or through a hire service), but one of the most challenging sectors after the Coronavirus crisis will undoubtedly be hotels. “Our focus is on room service, an area that will lead (especially at the high end of the market) to a re-evaluation of the dining services provided, with the introduction of new formulae whereby guests can enjoy meals in the comfort and privacy of their own suites,” says Barbara Cincotto, Ho.Re.Ca. sales director of Arcturus Group.
It is important to remember, though, that during Phases 2 and 3, the big issue for hotels will be the actual interiors of bedrooms. “Everything will have to be sanitised after each guest leaves: which means all the surfaces, the air conditioning and all the items in the room,” says Luca Vivanti, an ambassador for Ainem, and the consultant for digital, innovative & strategical marketing for SMEs at Milan and Turin Polytechnic, and also for POLI.design. “Over and above the actual problem of contamination, there will also be the psychological aspect: as each new guest goes into the room it’s vital that they have an instant sense of cleanliness and hygiene. So there can be no carpeting and indeed as little in the way of fabrics as possible; bars and restaurants will need to be mainly done out in wood, laminate and metal. Everything will have to give a visual and tactile sense of having been sanitised.” The other question is that of preventing people gathering together, which will have to be tackled with a change in habits, especially through the use of technology. “The entire Ho.Re.Ca sector will have to pull together to get this to work. And not just by coming up with a whole new timeframe for what happens when, and the introduction of separate sittings at mealtimes. At certain times of the day demand is certainly huge, and the only way round this will be to have an app on which everyone books their time,” Vivanti says.