The more things change, the more they stay the same. Or so the saying goes.
But if I’ve learned anything these past few years, it’s not that some things remain constant in spite of rapid innovation; it’s that, in order to keep up with the speed of change, some things will have to be.
In 2023, brands are going to have to choose what remains constant in their business.
Let me explain.
I’m the CEO and Founder of a tech company that focuses on coaching and developing workers for leading brands around the globe. Some are in retail, a lot are in hospitality, but, more often than not, I find they share the same problem– one that’s typically related to how they approach their people.
These buyers often invest in the same products, read the same blogs, and attend the same conferences, but what determines if the tech they buy is effective comes down to a fundamental difference in perspective. It’s about how they view their tech.
In 2023, there will be two different camps: the first is interested in tech as a savior, the second is looking for tech as a tool.
And which camp you fall into makes a difference– for your front of house, your back of house, your bottom line, and your guests.
Now, everybody has problems– it’s tough out there! You’ve got labor, competition, guests, recessions, whatever. Things you can control, and things you can’t. It’s hard, in a climate like this, not to want a quick fix.
For those headed down that path already, I wish them luck.
But others? They’re going a different way.
That’s something I can speak to personally.
Like a lot of CEOs in my industry, I do a lot of traveling. Being on the road forces you to eat on the road, and throughout September and November, that’s exactly what I did.
I ate out. A lot.
First in New York, then in Miami; Detroit, LA, and, finally, Las Vegas. While attending conferences, and meeting with customers and investors, I grabbed breakfast, lunch, and dinner at all sorts of restaurants; from quick serves to self-serves, and Michelin star classics to edgy up-and-comers.
Over the course of those many meals, never once was I as thankful for a QR code as I was for the presence of an energetic server. I mean no disrespect to the robot that brought me my café con leche, but all in all, the picture that began to form, from coast to coast, was this: Tech disrupts, and for our guests, that can be a problem.
This hasn’t been an easy time and it feels like a lot of brands are going to struggle with this.
I’m not saying you should rip out that fancy new POS system and bring back cash registers. This isn’t an argument for that. But this is a reminder that tech is a tool. It can be sleek, powerful, and improve guest interactions– but it can’t replace your people.
That’s what I think.
I don’t know when so many decided robots were a safer bet than people, but hospitality is still human.
The brands that remember that will have the edge in 2023. Next year, and in the years to come, that’s who I’ll be betting on.