Notable Life | The future of hospitality: How Somm has supported the industry throughout the pandemic

Discover how sommthe app that’s putting a sommelier in your pocket and unlocks premium hospitality experienceshas placed a focus on bettering the hospitality industry during the pandemic, a sector that has been forever changed.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought change to companies and individuals in ways that we will never turn back from.

For many individuals, the change revolves around working from your home in a comfy pair of sweatpants versus commuting to your office in business casual wear, whether you go into grocery stores or order your food in an app, or maybe your newfound love of baking bread .

As for companies disrupted during the pandemic, some thrived while many others did not have this fortune. Brands had to be fast-moving and adapt quickly in order to maintain growth and presence during the pandemic.

With all this change and innovation happening at such a rapid rate, one sector that has been inarguably changed forever is the hospitality industry. One company in particular that has evolved with the pandemic is Somm™, an app that puts a sommelier in your pocket and unlocks premium hospitality experiences. Built during the pandemic, Somm™ has placed a focus on not only advancing the hospitality industry but supporting other services during some of the most troubling times.

Recently, Somm™ acquired DINR, a restaurant reservation app to further their offerings in curating exceptional hospitality experiences. DINR compliments existing reservation platforms through highly curated restaurant partners.

We sat down with Jennifer Tremblay, CEO of Somm™ and DINR by Somm™, and Kyle Nares, Co-Founder of DINR, to explore how Somm™ is bettering the hospitality industry through various initiatives including their acquisition of DINR.

Jennifer and Kyle share not only how COVID-19 has impacted the hospitality industry but also where it’s heading in the future.

The Recovery of the Hospitality Industry

With all of the uncertainty and ups and downs that the hospitality industry has faced during the pandemic, it feels like recovery is finally on the horizon.

We asked Kyle how he thinks of the current road to healing:

“I’m certainly not jealous of anyone having to decide what amount of pain is fair, and there’s no doubt that restaurants have bore far too much in the lead up to recovery. Though there’ve been countless challenges, from what I’ve seen, the recovery-focused subsidy programs (rent and wages) have been extremely helpful for restaurants and certainly are a contributing factor to the majority large of the DINR restaurant partners that have survived these challenging times.”

Built during the pandemic, Somm has kept the health and status of the hospitality industry top of mind from the very beginning. The pain points that the pandemic has created are exactly what Somm has set out to solve.

One initiative that was released to help the hospitality industry was Somm’s Cru programs, which Jennifer breaks down for us:

“The Somm Cru and Grand Cru programs were created to showcase the best of any establishment by allowing guests to access premium experiences while allowing our hospitality partners to be creative and flexible in their offering. It’s free for partners, and certainly not egregious like many other food tech platforms out there – it’s value additive. And it’s all about connecting our hospitality partners to a net-new, loyal, and generous consumer audience.

Whether it’s a secret menu, a welcome beverage, a special event, chef collaboration, premium winery or agency experience, or an elevated hotel package, the membership program presents an opportunity for establishments to upsell their offerings and engender lifetime loyalty with appreciative guests.”

The Post-Pandemic World and What it Holds for the Hospitality Industry

There are many words that come to mind when we think about the pandemic, when it comes to brands adapting to the changing world, one word that often pops up is technology.

A McKinsey Global Survey found that due to the pandemic, companies have accelerated digitization within their companies by three to four years and the share of digital or digitally enabled products in portfolios has accelerated by a shocking seven years.

We asked Jennifer if technology has also created lasting impacts on the hospitality industry:

Well, first and foremost the marriage between hospitality and tech is here to stay. And as a society, we’ve all become digital natives. We don’t anticipate this going away, but we do know that both consumer expectations and the hospitality industry evolved during the pandemic.

Starting with the consumer, the pandemic has certainly changed consumer behavior as we know it, and restaurants are far more open-minded to technology. We’ve all spent significantly more time at home getting intimately familiar with home cooking, take out, and attending high-quality virtual experiences.

But now, as we step into a post-pandemic world, it’s clear that the consumer has a different set of expectations from their hospitality experiences. They value curation, personalization, quality, and community. In essence, the bar for physical experiences is set a lot higher, and the more that technology can efficiently complement the experience, the better.”

Somm™ has placed an emphasis on providing users with incredible experiences through the palm of their hand. The company launched numerous initiatives over the pandemic including Somm™ Cru, Grand Cru, and acquiring DINR. The company is thinking about how users can still be connected to physical experiences with innovative technology involved in this process, and that is what truly defines great hospitality.

A Change that Lasts a Lifetime

It is true that not all change is permanent. But we wanted to know what shifts in the hospitality industry aren’t going away. Are these shifts good for businesses or are they projecting a tough road ahead?

For Jennifer, it’s clear that the merge of technology and hospitality is here to stay:

“The most notable change from the pandemic was the hospitality industry’s sudden embrace of technology. The emergence of digital solutions within the hospitality space has allowed businesses to engage with guests through e-commerce, social media, virtual tastings, and cooking classes – we learned that no platform is off limits!

As we adjust to our new normal, it’s clear that technology that drives more revenue, reach and engagement is here to stay.”

As for Kyle, a shift towards employee satisfaction is permanent:

“More time, focus, and energy has been put on restaurant employee satisfaction than ever before. The pandemic created a scarcity of cooks, servers, and support staff during a daunting period for in-person work, and restaurants have been putting even more time into creating teams and environments that staff love to be a part of. For all the incredible employees who have stuck with the industry through the yo-yoing closures, lockdowns, and re-openings, they are truly courageous and fortunately, are likely to be better appreciated, better compensated, and will generally be better rewarded, both by guests and employers for years to come.”

Connect with Somm & DINR

If you’d like to learn more about Somm™, check them out at somm.io or download the Somm app. Read more about Somm’s acquisition of DINR on Betakit, and join the waitlist to be the first in the know when DINR by Somm relaunches in Spring 2022.

Lastly, for any restauranteurs that would like to get involved with Somm™ and DINR, or if you’re a foodie that wants to join the waitlist, connect with them here.

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