Reopening, not losing your soul and the art of diplomacy

We seem set (with due respect to the Delta variant) for indoor reopening next month. But Health & Safety remains an important concern for consumers in 2021.


Last Summer the LVA found 68% of people expressing concern that others wouldn’t take safety measures seriously when the pubs reopened.

Empathy research found that over 50% of consumers regard the following simple steps as essential in an on-trade environment: staff wearing Personal Protective Equipment, contactless payment, Social Distancing, anti-bacterial menus and easily accessible hand-sanitser.

Outlets can use digital payment to reduce customer contact but they should also ensure that all such visual cues are well-managed and maintained.

Following the HSE guidelines doesn’t mean losing the personal service aspect of one’s offering.

For reopened pubs the key here must be balance – balance in having enough visual cues to your safety procedures and processes, yet not so much as to make your venue feel sterile. And here lies a neat balancing trick for the trade – how to clearly enforce Social Distancing etc yet not lose the spirit and soul of your venue?

Keeping some of your valued customers in line requires a diplomacy that most publicans are able to demonstrate in spades.

Have you told your customers just what they can expect as you reopen? What are your rules and what are you doing to put customers at their ease in regard to these?

The post-Covid on-trade winners will be those with the most active relevant relationship with their consumers.

For, as the American businessman Bo Bennett once explained, “Diplomacy is more than saying or doing the right things at the right time, it’s avoiding saying or doing the wrong things at any time”.

On the other hand, knowing some of the more cantankerous customers in our own local, comedian Will Rogers may have hit the nail on the head when he explained that “Diplomacy is the art of saying ‘Nice doggie’ until you can find a rock”.

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