The global lockdown bestowed upon me a lot of time to reflect on matters such as how the pandemic will affect me as a graduate student who will be seeking a job next month. Will there be jobs out there for me? Will my services be required as businesses scramble to get back on their feet? How can I make sure I stay relevant in my field and provide value to these companies?
Before now, many business owners in the food and wine industry – especially the small scaled frowned upon the use of new media to promote their businesses. They were happy and satisfied to cater only to their neighbours and locals who regularly patronised them – it was enough to keep the business going.
One big lesson restaurateurs and wine makers have learnt is the importance of direct to consumers programs and the importance of creating relationships with their customers online. Many restaurants are now relying more on food delivery services like Uber and Glovo to bail them out and help keep their businesses running.
As an MBA student in Food and Wine, I follow what is going on in my industry. My admiration has grown for companies like Enolytics – that is helping businesses in the wine industry to make utmost use of big data in this period so they don’t run out of business; and public figures like Kat Kimson, who is advocating for the mental health of restaurant workers who have lost their jobs owing to this pandemic.
Ecommerce wine platform – Vivino, witnessed a +150% increase in sales this April as compared to same period last year, Heini Zachariassen – the founder of the company mentioned during a one-on-one session at my Innovation and Narration in Food and Wine Class. Heini also pointed out that he foresees a steady drop in sales once physical stores begin to open but definitely not as low as before the pandemic – “it’s going to fall at a midpoint” he had stated.
Italian Wine Academy has continued to empower its students with information and prepare them for the upcoming Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) exam through virtual wine tasting activities. There is a shift to more online activities, people are buying more online – even their dinner. As discussed during my Management and Creativity in the Restaurant Industry class, the shift to online purchasing of ready-made food may seem to pose a threat to restaurants as we may naturally assume people would get accustomed to getting their food delivered at home. However, this may not be the case, at least for many restaurants in Bologna – as we witnessed an endless queue of diners patiently waiting to be serviced after the Government eased the lockdown in May. The experience of eating at a restaurant can indeed never be ordered online.
We are coming to the realisation we may not need to fly 1500km or travel to work daily to get things done. Perhaps, we also are gradually starting to believe we can be more sustainable if we continue to create less pollution.
If there is one thing this time at home may have collectively taught us, it is to appreciate more all those moments we could walk into a bar full of strangers, plan vacations, and wake up to prepare for a job we were certain awaited us. Now all we have is this uncertainty that looms over us, an uncertainty of what tomorrow holds.
Author: Hellen Akinsiku
Participant of Global MBA of Food and Wine