Skip to main content

Collaboration is the key to a successful post-covid comeback

Before writing this, I noticed Google brings up a whopping 138 million quotes on having a strategy.

That’s a lot of people having a lot of opinions and, as we marketers know, everyone (who isn’t in marketing) in every business thinks their opinion on marketing counts. To be fair, it absolutely does to some extent.

Collaboration=inspiration. And what better way to be inspired by conversations with people in the wider team who should all collectively be working towards the same business strategy.

But therein lies a potential issue. More often than not, business departments are not aligned. HR, IT, operations and marketing cannot function without each other. Each is a wheel on the car, take one off, you’re going nowhere.

There’s a marketing touchpoint in everything. From HR to deliver the brand in recruitment, company perception and hospitality training. IT, which introduces and delivers excellent tech solutions. And operations being the engine – delivering the brand standard every day with well-trained teams using the effective procedures and systems in place to make it all work perfectly to deliver the sales.

Assuming then your teams are all aligned, what happens now?

We’ve endured a year-long lockdown where while so much has changed, some things really haven’t.

People are gagging to get back out. Bars and restaurants have reported massive spikes in bookings for all of May, into June and beyond. You can’t get a weekend 7pm table in Hawksmoor Seven Dials until late July.

So that’s the positive, there’s a market for what we’re offering. Good. But do you really know who your market is? What work on this have you been doing in the background to prepare yourself?

I’ve always been quite data-driven in marketing but, this year, having undertaken data analysis on our guests in the UK, I have uncovered some valuable actionable insights that means our online marketing can be 100% smarter and more targeted than before with real joined-up thinking.

Which brings us to the big “come back” campaign that some brands are working on.

Where you start with could depend on your level of activity during each of the lockdowns. Vapiano UK saw record stats for social engagement levels during lockdown, picking up new followers who have stayed with us throughout. Our growth rate and engagement percentage was above all our competitors.

I understand why some restaurants had to pull all social activity but that’s some hill to climb when you suddenly pop back up after a year and everyone is thinking “oh yeah, I forgot about you”.

So, back to the reopening. Everyone will know restaurants have and will reopen so that’s not the message. And I’ve heard other marketers say “don’t mention the past or the word lockdown” and “do we really need to incorporate masks into the visuals?” There’s a little layer of complexity to it we never had to consider before.

How much is too much? How much emotion? How many “we’ve all been in this together” messages are we all likely to see come 17 May? I guarantee there will be more humour than we’ve ever seen before. And I reckon we all deserve a laugh.

A recent twitter poll highlighted 60% of people are open to persuasion on where to eat once open so while 40% may have booked or planned to visit their favourites, there’s definitely a new and exciting acquisition piece for marketers to go after – providing you know who you want to target and how to do it.

My role in this regard is to support Vapiano across 25 countries with its reopening plans and deliver key campaigns.

While each has its own team to drive any local activities, my team of three is delivering content for campaigns that can be used globally as a bigger piece to support the local plans.

Some of these countries have remained open, albeit with restrictions, for indoors eating such as the Middle East and Australia, while some, like France, have been closed completely, where the majority of others have been remained open for delivery and takeaway only.

Therefore, we have multiple levels of varying needs and messages but when it comes down to it, one thing remains – we are “The Home of Handmade Fresh Pasta”, we know who we are, and what we’re about. Owning this and consistently communicating it is key.

We also know who our guests are and, more importantly, who’s not. This gives us the perfect mix to deliver a well-worked acquisition, conversion and retention strategy to see us through a potentially wobbly next 12 months where so much remains uncertain.

We remain very positive and wish everyone in hospitality a warm welcome back and the very best of success.


Vikki O’Neill is global marketing director for Vapiano