I know my habits have changed during lockdown. I have never bought so much stuff on the internet and expectedly awaited the arms-length drop off; I hadn’t written letters to my Mother since I was a student; and I had forgotten the magnificence of SPAM, in a salad, sandwich or fried!
Like many others in the UK the fortunate weather has led to a flurry of gardening, building, planting and whittling, the splendours of which we will all be able to appreciate throughout summer.
It has been very positive to liaise with some clients and progress projects for next year during the lockdown, either “Zoom-ing”, “Team-ing” or “Whereby-ing”. What with work, family and friends, the webcam has had a real bashing but there may be some light at the end of this new optical tunnel.
Without doubt, the internet and Apps are now even more integral and familiar to us all than they ever been for shopping, socialising and sanity. So, as we peer over the post lockdown horizon what should we expect?
1. Better use of our time by ignoring the paranoia of feeling we must always have an “in-the-same-room meeting”, often in the guise of “networking”. That tradition will certainly be under pressure.
2. Fewer miles on a clogged-up motorway early in the morning for that 10 o’clock meeting 200 miles away, which will only last an hour. We could be more productive as a result.
3. More thoughtful expression of ideas and preparation for that concise internet meeting and making sure your personal impression is consistent, rather than “getting by” in a face to face group meeting. Zoom is quite an intense spotlight.
4. Every payment should be contactless. We are so used to not handing over cash now and we are also reticent to touch things. I know I am from Yorkshire, but I have not opened my wallet for weeks! My computer knows my payment details.
5. More unity. We have all been through this together. We can work more collectively, with simpler agendas. Share more; build new habits; deliver more.
We are going to expect more from the connected world. We don’t want Netflix to limit their bandwidth, and we don’t want to struggle working from home when our local broadband contention ratios go haywire due to peak demand. We also need to know we are secure online and that upgrades on Zoom really do protect us.
Which brings me to customers in pubs and leisure outlets. It feels like latent demand is building to be out there socialising. We will soon be beyond who are our favourite six people. Everyone is planning and working hard to return to normality in the leisure sector, not only to attract wary customers back, but more importantly to try to create new habits and routines. Hopefully, the gaming and amusement supply chain partners will be there after this difficult period to lead and rally the sector back to the very positive income performance it was enjoying pre-Covid.
The sector needs the opportunity to take out cost by going cashless securely; delivering a thin client gaming network; having their customers collect and reconcile any cash and card payments; having one industry wide cashless App; pushing HMG hard for debit card payments; taking coins away from pool completely and increasing the price of play. A single gaming way of working, on a secure network, but individually branded.
The status quo and expectations have changed in society and there should be a PLUS side to that. In pubs, tenanted in particular, where the proportion of annual profit from machines can be significant, the PLUS should be to get the digital roll-out fully done; move on cashless pool and music; help the tenant make more money; manage and train in the customer gaming offer better, improve the tenant’s understanding of the gaming opportunity and take cost out for the operator. Over time, as recovery starts and the supply chain can afford to invest again and supported commercially by the retailers, working together, there could well be a PLUS side to all of this. With lockdown as the impetus, digital cash and digital liquidity seem nearer, safer and more beneficial in so many ways.
First published June 4th 2020