The Age of Collaboration – It asks businesses to be genuine

Since we published a piece last week on collaborative partnerships between operators and suppliers, we have had several approaches from companies on both sides of the spectrum adding their agreement. As one commented: “In the old days, we used to have operators, suppliers, retailers, clients, consultants all operating in their own little boxes and all staying in those boxes; now everything is mixing up, crossing lines and working far closer together to find new solutions.”

It is true but this new era of collaboration is not just limited to the collaborations between operators, suppliers and clients; it is happening across society. Traditional operations need to think bigger and differently. Casual dining and café operations are now bringing in live music as well as art; hotel resorts are lowering their boundaries to bring in the authentic experience from local cultures and there is a closer relationship, across the country, between local food producers and operators.

Yes, the core word may be collaboration, but it only masks the two underlying trends – authenticity and purpose. What does this mean?

  • It was recently noted by a property company that those who seeing best returns to workplaces were those who had managed to connect with their employees that workplaces were not just about work but have a purpose – a purpose to bring people together better and more supportively; a purpose in working better with their communities; a purpose which showed that work was not just about profit but had meaning.
  • A hotelier recently noted that they found that the use of named chefs was declining as guests were less interested in a big name but more about the genuineness of the food offered. Was the food local and fresh? Was it different? Did it represent the local culture?
  • In the same way, a food service operator noted that they may well need to change their sales approach to something new and better in tenders.

The bottom line, consumers, employees and guests are seeking a higher bar than what did exist in 2019 and some are responding to this; others are not. It is a new challenge for operators to face and it the traditional boundaries and processes which many did work to are now being questioned and eroded. It will see a new narrative emerge.

Consumers’ expectations of brands and businesses have changed. They no longer just want the brand, but they also expect the brand to represent their values and beliefs. More than 70 percent of consumers reportedly spend more on authentic brands.  However, authenticity is not easily achievable as consumers are cynical about the sincerity of brands. In fact, it has been reported that as many as 80 percent of consumers find it difficult to trust brands.

It is not always clear what it is that makes consumers think that a company or brand is authentic. This is the challenge. Many are being caught out today with saying the words but not acting in the right way. In past times this was often acceptable, even sometimes applauded. Many joke that the 1980s was an era of “ducking and diving”. That was that era. Today is different and higher standards are asked, and this raises the bar on all.

It may be challenging but it probably will also lead to better; better employment practices, better relationships, better solutions and offers less arrogance.