​​​​​​​Rauma Chamber of Commerce Autumn Gallup

The current epidemic COVID-19 has impacted several industries all around the country. New business strategies have been developed, creating in consequence new approaches to business and customer service.

Iida Lampi, Laura Avikainen and Iiro Ignatius.

One of the sectors that has experienced a larger amount of changes through the year of 2020 is the restaurant, food service and hotel industry. An industry that has modified itself to fulfil customers´ demands on times of social distancing and quarantine. Therefore, Rauma Chamber of Commerce asked local restaurants to tell about their experience.

IIDA LAMPI | Café Sali

How can the restaurant industry keep being attractive for customers during the current times?
This gives mix feelings because we want to make marketing and serve people something good and special, but there is always the question of what can you do and advertise, because you don’t want to attract a lot of people, so they can be safe, but at the same time you want to give people the full service every day, and maybe some small happenings to make them happy. It is a political question as well as an ethical question. The restrictions change a lot of things, but still we hope that people will use the restaurant business sector in their everyday life, at least for take away. I think we need to keep up the good service, have quality products and hope that people will use the restaurants a bit more than normal, to help keeping the places going. In the end, it is people’s own choice if they come or not.

How have the customers and your company adapted to new regulations on the restaurant industry?
Finnish people are very disciplined. If you give them regulations, they obey it, so during these times most people followed the regulations. We put a lot of effort to follow the safety standards of covid-19.
After restrictions were lifted and there was no quarantine, we did not see any kind of change to before corona, there was a lot of people everywhere and most of them were not afraid anymore. But I think it is going to change the way to provide services. Certain kind of distance will stay at least for some time, and for Finnish people, this is very natural. It is kind of sad that our culture was getting more social and we were getting closer to each other, but now we have covid-19 and it keeps us distant again.
I hope people will honour and respect the other people’s choice of using a mask or staying distant and that no one will judge it, and also on the opposite way, if some people want to be more close. For business, these regulations are going to stay for a long time if not forever. It is going to be different for some years to come but people will adapt to the things that will come.

LAURA AVIKAINEN | FresCo Ravintolat Oy

How has the apparition of COVID-19 changed your business?
In February, this year looked very good, but in March everything collapsed. The turnover went down by 50 percent, we faced layoffs, etc. We survived spring somehow, but autumn looks challenging again. Even though the 2nd wave of the COVID-19 is not yet here, people are reacting to it and cancelling events.

How can the restaurant industry keep being attractive for customers during the current times?
We have to re-invent ourselves and create new services and products. At the same time, we also have to take care of the high hygiene level.

IIRO IGNATIUS | Hovi Hotels and restaurants

How can the restaurant industry keep being attractive for customers during the current times?
The food must be of good quality, fresh and locally sourced. It has to be something which you cannot get at home, an experience. Hygiene also has to be a standard but that already has been big thing in Finland. In restaurants you can be sure that you can eat safely.
The service is one of the key elements in order to bring customers to restaurants, people who are working in the restaurant have to be pleasant and inviting; your food might be good but if your customer service isn´t to the level, customers might not want to engage anymore with the restaurant. So, I feel that we have to believe in a better tomorrow, think of new products or services and keep in mind that we are in this together.

How have the customers and your company adapted to new regulations on the restaurant industry?
We are following the rules and are doing everything as it has been instructed to assure a secure experience for the customers, but we are concerned about fear factor and how we can compete with that and keep people coming to the restaurant.
If we think of companies and bigger occasions, we are able to do those safely since we have big restaurants with big capacities where the number of participants can be limited. The companies haven’t adapted to the situation in any other way than wanting to play safe, so they are not doing any recreational happenings, travels or events, so we have to adapt to that situation and think about how to keep the company running.
People understand quite well what we are doing, they understand why they have to sanitize their hands, wear masks or gloves. Customers have adapted quite well and they enjoy the feeling of us caring for them and the feeling of being on a place where they know they are safe.