New Delhi, March 19 : As the Coronavirus outbreak affects most businesses, the hospitality industry is among the worst-hit, with a dwindling customer base that fears the virus spread.
How is, then, the sector coping and coming up with innovative solutions? Turns out, they are betting big on delivery and keeping clean.
After Domino's Pizza introduced "Zero Contact Delivery", a service that allows customers to receive their order without coming in contact with delivery staff as the food bag is placed at the doorstep and not handed directly, many have followed suit and taken this precautionary measure.
Delivery kitchens in Delhi and Gurugram, like Sassy Begum, are also seeing a rise in home delivery orders, as more and more people self-isolate and choose not to dine out over COVID-19 scare.
Popular restaurants like Townhall in Khan Market, New Delhi which were strictly for dining is now offering delivery options as well.
Questions on who is preparing the food under what conditions is also a disturbing one for consumers.
Slider & Fries, a delivery kitchen based in SakiNaka says it ensures sanitizing and sterilizing all tables and utensils with disinfectants, wearing masks while preparing food, and minimising human contact in transferring food boxes from kitchen staff to delivery boys.
Bengaluru-based The Den Hotel is also taking it a notch higher by home-delivering Ugadi-special lavish food spreads within their five-kilometre radius. "From salad to desserts to varieties of chutneys, this box has it all covered," it said about the festive food box.
In the face of a contagious virus outbreak like the present one, sanitisation is a key issue. As per Sanadige Delhi, although the footfall has come down, hygiene procedures that include regular disinfection, are the practice.
HungerBox, a B2B food tech platform, is enabling social distancing with features like Desk Ordering, which allows choice of food and delivery, and setting up of food dispensing machines wherein people have access to a range of pre-loaded ready-to-eat food.
Regular sanitisation and wearing of gloves and masks in all the process starting from the kitchen to the storefront, has also been a practice of Mumbai-based Sweetish House Mafia.
Their consumers may have self-quarantined themselves, but thanks to social media, it is not 'out of sight, out of mind', and restaurants and hotels are seen leveraging the power of the internet to connect with their audiences. According to Vivek Chouhan, Owner of The Pavors, what is especially fascinating is video marketing, which will make consumers come back after the situation betters.
Vikram Kamats, Founder Chairman, VITS Kamats Group told IANSlife: "Coronavirus has impacted every industry not just in India but across the world. At VITS, we greet all our customers with 'Namaskar'. For the safety of guests and staff, we are following a very strict protocol and undertaking various hygiene and sanitation measures.
"The most important area of concern is the purchase and receiving department. Each food item like fresh vegetables, egg, poultry are being thoroughly screened. Before use of each product a special process of washing and disinfecting and storing products in the right temperature has been a part of the process." As Priyanka Gupta, Director, The Great Bear Kitchen and Microbrewery, Chandigarh, concludes, in times like this where there is so much of fear, one needs the reassurance that hospitality brands and the sector at large are taking all the precautions and diners are safe to dine with them.
(Siddhi Jain can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)