As the hospitality industry continues to be at the forefront of scrutiny in terms of government covid policy response, we maintain our commitment at Tyl to supporting the industry.

Tyl chief executive, Mike Elliff

By Mike Elliff, chief executive, Tyl

Following the recent announcement of the three-tier lockdown system for England, the imposition of 10pm curfews and the possibility of temporary closures for bars and restaurants has led UKHospitality chief executive, Kate Nicholls, to state that many businesses in the industry are “reaching the point of no return”. Further to this, the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) is leading calls for a legal challenge to stop lockdown rules forcing closures, citing a “lack of scientific rationale or correlation to covid-19 transmission rates, when compared to other key environments”.

The ongoing disputes underline the severity of the issues facing the industry as it adapts to government measures to reduce the spread of covid-19. Social distancing, one-way systems, and table service only, have reduced capacity — and combined with lower consumer confidence, it’s easy to see why the viability of re-opened pubs is under threat.

In these tricky circumstances pub landlords and owners are faced with increasingly difficult decisions around keeping staff and customers safe, improving efficiencies, and generating the cashflow they need to help them recover. They are doing all this while trying not to harm the ambience or the experience that drives customers there in the first place. It’s a delicate balancing act.

With all these changes in mind, the hospitality industry that comes out of the covid pandemic will be very different to the one that we have been familiar with. For many, the adoption of new technology and ongoing digitisation, such as contactless payment options, has helped bars and pubs navigate the new normal.

Earlier in the pandemic, Tyl welcomed many pub and bar customers who had adapted their business models to sell online or via take-away, and who wanted to implement phone- or web-based payment systems. Now tasked with making sure these systems work for our customers in the long run, what are the key considerations and benefits of contactless payments, and how can they support the pub industry at this crucial time?

Customer and colleague safety and payment options

Recent Tyl research found that almost one in five (19%) of SMEs in the hospitality sector do not feel comfortable with themselves or their employees handling cash during the pandemic.

With customers and staff less eager to handle cash, contactless payment systems mean customers don’t have to handle a terminal, so the business doesn’t have to wipe it down constantly. Contactless can also reduce the number of journeys and interactions across the floor, compared to what might be required for a cash payment to enter the till, the server to obtain change, and return to a table.

For pubs with outdoor seating, portable terminals provided by Tyl grant cashiers the freedom to take payments outside, maximising the entire venue at a time where space and distance are at a premium. Contactless payments can also be taken at the table or implemented while customers are waiting in queues, again improving efficiency and speed while enabling physical distancing.

Cashflow

We understand that, right now, many bars and pubs may be operating with reduced cash reserves during this difficult period. Despite government support schemes, it’s highly likely that any operating reserves or buffers will have been quickly exhausted as bars juggle suppliers, payroll, rent, and other ongoing expenses, as well as dealing with the impact of operating at reduced capacity. This puts a tremendous pressure on maintaining and tracking cashflow from daily sales.

We see this acutely with our customers and are proud to offer next-day settlement. This not only delivers peace of mind, but the opportunity to assess cashflow in real time, giving greater decision-making power to pub owners.

Tyl customer and owner of the Red Lion, in West Bromwich, Satnam Singh Purewal, said: “The transaction speed and next-day working settlement has been vital for maintaining cashflow during lean periods. Ninety-five per cent of our transactions are now made through card payments, so without it, we would struggle.”

Revenue

As customer payment preferences increasingly shift to cashfree methods, the hospitality sector must adjust or risk feeling the effects on revenue. Our data shows that businesses across the UK have been quick to adapt to this. From lockdown (16th March), 65% of new customers registering for Tyl are adopting card payments for the first time. Further, our latest hospitality research revealed that almost half (45%) of SMEs in the hospitality sector agree that accepting contactless payments will allow them to operate more successfully after the pandemic, while another half (47%) agree that they will lose revenue without contactless payments.

Customer insights

Access to insight into trading patterns provided by Tyl card or contactless payment terminals, such as Clover, will continue to be an advantage for pubs and bars. When a customer uses a card payment, the information goes across to the Tyl Clover terminal, which has inventory and register capability, delivering data back to the business as customer insight, informing on successful products and services, and accurate, real-time customer profiling. These services allow businesses to delve into purchasing habits of their customers — whether that is comparing sales or identifying busy periods — providing a clear view of transactions across the business and allowing venues to spot opportunities unique to them.

Although there is great uncertainty as to how this will all play out, pubs and bars are a much-loved part of the fabric of our society. We expect customers to grow more accustomed to both social distancing and an increasingly digital society as we continue to socialise and come together as a nation. To gain an advantage during these challenging times, pubs can carefully consider the technology they adapt and how they can use it to not just ensure the safety of their customers and colleagues, but also improve how they run their business and the decisions they make.

Tyl by Natwest is an innovative payment partner designed to allow businesses to take payments digitally and provide customers with the convenience, service, speed, and security they expect while supporting business through next working day settlement, 48 hour set-up, and fair and simple pricing.

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