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Opinion: Marius Zürcher on predictions and why they matter

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A new year brings new trends – and new predictions too. Marius Zürcher looks at why attempting to predict the future is important

At the end of 2020, I made some predictions regarding future trends in the hospitality industry. At the end of 2021, I repeated the process, as well as evaluated the predictions I made in the previous year. Now as 2023 begins – third time’s a charm

I predicted that food delivery and at-home restaurant experiences were here to stay, even in a post lockdown world. When I first made that prediction, the post-lockdown world was still further away than most of us expected it to be. Now, however, it appears to have fully arrived (knock on wood). Nevertheless, food delivery services remain hugely popular, hampered only by a lack of staff. That, of course, is the caveat for everything in the hospitality industry (and beyond) now. Will we actually have enough people?

Automation: the future

This brings me to another trend I predicted: automation. More and more, I believe an increase in automation and robotization to be one of the main ways out of the woes caused by staff shortages. Some readers might point out that it doesn’t seem to be happening as of yet, and they would largely be right, but robots and artificial intelligence are becoming better and cheaper at an unprecedented pace, so it is only a matter of time.

Another prediction I made is that there will be a post-pandemic boom in events, but that these events will be more intimate and smaller than they were before 2020. I must admit that it is hard for me to say if this prediction has come true. I would love to hear from those readers that do know!

I also predicted that that healthy and ecologically responsible food will become more important, as customers have become more health conscious and more concerned about the environment. I still believe this development to be inevitable, but I do think that inflation has slowed it down for now. The question is, can we allow ourselves that? Then again, inflation does force the industry to become more efficient, especially with regards to energy, which will lead to more sustainability. I just wish it would happen for other reasons.

To continue with the grim tone, I believe that 2023 – more so than the pandemic years – will be the year of closing business, at least in regions that are hit the hardest by rising energy costs. Businesses in these areas should not give up hope, but they should take a clear-eyed look at their situation in order to be able to take action, and, if necessary, end things on their own terms as much as possible. Do not go into 2023 with your head in the sand.

The tangible benefits to business of recognizing trends

This leads me to my last point: why do I, and others, spend time coming up with these predictions in the first place? Because I believe that recognizing trends, even if they turn out to be less robust than initially anticipated, can have tangible benefits for businesses in the industry. Based on predictions made be me and many others, business can come up with different scenarios, from likely to unlikely (but nevertheless possible) and prepare accordingly. Although this process is flawed, often time-consuming, and sometimes scary, I think it is the best tool a business has to prepare for the future (aside from solid financials, I should add).

I want to end the article, in this year, but saying thank you to those that have read my articles, and especially those that have reached out to me to discuss them. I’m looking forward to sharing more thoughts with you in 2023. Until then – as I said last year too – stay safe, stay brave, keep supporting your favorite restaurants, and keep reading Foodservice Consultant.

Marius Zürcher

About the author:

The co-owner & founder of start-up 1520 in Apeldoorn, Netherlands, Marius Zürcher was a participant at FCSI’s ‘Millennials’ focused roundtable at INTERGASTRA 2018.