Opinion: Extreme weather and the hospitality sector

Ian Wood of UK financial institution Capify offers advice on how to manage hospitality and foodservice operations in heat waves and cold snaps

As the UK battles record temperatures, many climatologists believe extreme weather will become the future norm. The foodservice and hospitality sector is one industry which is directly impacted by conditions outside. So how will businesses need to evolve to meet changing demand as the mercury rises and falls?

No business is truly prepared for the significant impact extreme weather can have on its operations. However, as the famed Benjamin Franklin quote suggests, those that fail to prepare, may be preparing to fail.

Here are five top tips to help hospitality and foodservice businesses mitigate the business risks of a changing climate:

  1. Use data to identity trends and forecast future demand spikes and troughs

Businesses need demand analytics, not just weather forecasts, to understand and address drivers of sales volatility. It is likely that, in extreme heat, customers’ menu choices will differ from those in more benign conditions. Lighter meals, more cold foods and non-alcoholic drinks will be more popular in peak summer, for example. Equally, when the temperature drops, or rain is falling, consumer behaviours and menu choices will change in-line with the conditions.

Logging weather conditions alongside normal trading data (e.g., revenue/ menu choices/ booking capacity/ staffing levels) will help build a model that can forecast future impacts based on the outside temperature.

Mapping these weather-related impacts on your business fundamentals may also influence your advertising and hiring strategy, ensuring you are maximising your go-to-market messaging and staffing capacity to meet expected demand spikes.

  1. Consider seasonal menus

As the weather changes, so do consumer tastes. But supply chains may also become more robust (and cost-effective) if your menu adapts to seasonal availability. Ingredient costs, especially if locally sourced, will fluctuate with the natural growing or rearing cycle. Carefully monitoring your input costs through cashflow management software such as Agicap (https://agicap.com/en/sector/restaurants/) can enable you to adjust your procurement or pricing strategy to mitigate seasonal cost increases from your suppliers.

  1. Invest in equipment

With the right equipment, you can make outside areas more suitable to covers all year round. Heating and coverage can keep your gardens and covered patio spaces commercially viable throughout rain and cold. The same is true of internal dining, where air conditioning or open facades can be a welcome relief from scorching temperatures outside.

  1. Consider your distribution strategy.

The proliferation of direct-to-consumer apps can enable even the smallest business to trade online and reach a wider audience. The pandemic has also encouraged many smaller traders to consider their own online ordering and pick-up/ delivery operations. Investment in a secure online ordering portal (on your own site or via a third-party) can provide a valuable revenue stream when adverse weather impacts footfall.

For those food businesses who do operate an online collect or delivery service, careful planning should be made around calendar events that may impact demand. Major sporting and cultural events are likely to translate into spikes in eat-at-home; consumers and businesses should be stocked and staffed accordingly.

  1. Look after your staff

Staff can often make the difference between a positive and a negative hospitality experience. So, be aware of worker wellbeing and look after your staff rota with plenty of scheduled breaks, water provision and regular health checks on all, especially those who may be most at risk from extreme heat – the elderly, pregnant or those with underlying health conditions. If your workforce are expected to wear uniform, you should consider a lighter, cooler configuration for extreme heat.

Adapting your operations and embracing change will result in a more effective and efficient business; one that is better equipped for today and the future. This will equate to a better customer experience and have a positive impact on your bottom line.

If you would like to secure funding to invest in the future operations of your restaurant, hotel or catering business, you may consider a business loan.

Ian Wood is marketing director at Capify UK


Further details:

Capify has been providing finance to UK business owners for almost 15 years. To get a free no-obligation quote, and find out more about its innovative business loan, click here. 



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