The work of the service business during the war can be compared to a social initiative. After all, Ukrainian entrepreneurs during the full-scale invasion survived only through flexibility and a constant search for new anti-crisis solutions. Given the unstable demand for restaurant visits and hotel vacations, businesses decided to combine socially important service with increased profits, in particular by offering a range of additional services.
After February 24, some hotels took on a volunteer mission and hosted guests at cost price for several months. This was mostly true for properties in the western and central regions. In addition, some hoteliers joined volunteer missions. For example, the Ribas Hotels Group team at the beginning of the war organized a headquarters to help the AFU and territorial defense.
However, no one suspected how long martial law would last. So, at present, the hotel industry operates within a net profit, which allows companies to support employees. This is due to the fact that recreation in the hotel is not a priority within a person's needs, so now institutions are coming up with alternative methods of attracting guests.
"At the moment, all our actions are not about increasing profits. We do everything to make that profit appear. Hotels find tools to be useful, and these services are positively evaluated by people," said Andriy Marenchuk, managing partner of Ribas Hotels Group.
Andriy Marenchuk, managing partner of Ribas Hotels Group.
Additional hotel services
After the outbreak of a full-scale war, given the various emergencies, the number of hotel companies' expenses increased significantly, while the number of guests decreased. Therefore, some hotels decided to introduce additional services relevant to people at a special price. In war conditions, such service can help both people and accommodation establishments. Among the additional services that hotels offer or can offer:
- Room office. For example, in some of the hotels managed by Ribas Hotels Group, some of the rooms have been reoriented to mini-offices. Given that the establishments are self-contained - there is light and Internet, they can provide people the opportunity to work at any time, and this service is in high demand. In addition, if guests need to hold a series of meetings with the team in silence, the hotels offer room rental only during working hours - from 8:00 to 20:00 at a special rate.
- Infrastructure is at your service. Sometimes people just need to tidy up. This can be the use of a room for an hour to cover current hygiene needs, or a service room where clothes can be washed or ironed.
The restaurant industry
At the beginning of the war, the restaurant business took on the role of the state in providing food for the military. In late February and early April, the market fed military structures, ranging from the AFU and Territorial Defense to police and border guards. For their part, suppliers provided food free of charge. Thus, several establishments were able to prepare about 2,500-3,000 meals a day in small towns (regional centers) and up to 10,000 meals a day in cities with a population of millions. Only after the huge amount of expenses and work on itself, the state began to restore the order of food.
Speaking of the social mission of the restaurant sphere, gastro-dinners contributed. "For example, thanks to the project HoReCa Angels, Culinary Association of Ukraine, Restetika company, marketing agency BeeSmart, as well as the project "Chefs Against War" we held four gastro-dinners abroad - in Germany, Austria and Poland. The main purpose of such events abroad is firstly to raise funds for the military and secondly to popularize Ukrainian cuisine among foreigners. We show how various our dishes can be: with author's modern serving, appetizing look, incredible taste. Besides, we held our first gastro-dinner in Ukraine in Zhytomyr on February 22, 2023 and are already negotiating about holding such events in Lviv, Vinnytsia, and Kropivnitsky" - said Andriy Magaletsky, managing partner of Restetika.
Andriy Magaletsky, managing partner of Restetika
The restaurant business also helps internally displaced people who have lost their homes. They also support displaced children with holiday gifts. "Currently almost every establishment is trying to take part in the fundraising requested from this or that person or brigade, because there are also many people at the front who worked in the restaurant industry. For example, from the bar BarDuck (Kiev), the co-owner of which I am, now there are three people fighting - two bartenders and a chef", - said Andrei Magaletsky.
Additional services in restaurants during the war
Now it is very difficult to talk about a high level of profitability for restaurants operating in the same format as before the full-scale war. That's why establishments are introducing additional services into their daily work, carrying and combining social and profitable contexts. Among them:
- Suspended food and drink. This is usually done in restaurants frequented by the military.
- Co-working. Restaurants set aside a certain number of tables where people can work, charge their phones, use Wi-Fi when there is no light. Guests in most of these cases give the restaurants their respect by ordering something from the menu. Mostly this benefits both one side and the other.
- Food delivery. It continues to be in demand, as most people do not go to establishments because of safety issues or to save on gasoline or transportation. However, they choose not to deny themselves their favorite foods.
- Food with social overtones. We are talking about establishments that name some dishes on the menu with names related to military themes. Here it is important to understand the difference: if this is done only to increase the popularity of the restaurant, it will have a negative impact on its image, but if it is done with a social function, that is, a percentage of the profits from such dishes is directed, for example, to the needs of the AFU, then it is a very good initiative, which will certainly have a positive effect on the reputation of the institution.
"In fact, now the main task of restaurateurs is to stay afloat, keep the team and invest as much as possible in the victory of Ukraine, providing assistance with the funds raised. It is worth remembering that now Ukrainians prefer socially oriented service business, as opposed to the one that does not take any part in volunteer projects. And after the end of the war this tendency will only increase", - summarized Andriy Magaletsky.
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