In a change to the track and trace measures, from 5 April hospitality venues will legally be required to ask all customers to provide their contact details or to check in with the NHS COVID app rather than just the lead booker. Staff will also have to verify that each individual over the age of 16 has checked in using the QR code by reviewing the individual’s phone screen.
Under the scheme, hospitality venues are also required to take responsible steps to refuse entry to a customer or visitor who does not provide their name and contact details or who has not scanned the QR code.
The rules will apply for both indoor and outdoor trading, including beer gardens and pavements, but not for takeaway or click and collect.
While the return of track and trace might not be welcomed by all in the hospitality sector because of the increased burden of collecting data, it does present businesses with the chance to capture vita customer data as they reopen, according to Dan Brookman, CEO of technology platform Airship, which last year launched the Trck.to track and trace app.
Since July last year, Trck.to has checked in over 23 million people at more than 11,000 venues across the UK, with the average opt in rate for customers allowing their details to be used for marketing purposes at 26% across the larger restaurant groups and 50% for independent pubs and restaurants and smaller groups.
“The opportunity here for venues is they can ask for a customer opt in if they would like to receive info about a business. If they tick it, they can then be signed up to mailing list,” says Brookman.
“We’re going to have such a massive amount of customer footfall and therefore data over the next six months as the sector reopens and it gives businesses an opportunity to have an bit of a leg up after the last year to generate a large amount of data.”
Brookman says that data suggests that more people will be staying local a when eating and drinking out so there will be increased local competition among businesses.
“Customer information that is captured is going to be gold dust. Everybody’s databases over past 12 months have been decimated – there’s been no loyalty, no booking or Wi-Fi data – and this is an opportunity for people to replenish their lists.”
While customers will be more used to using track and trace this time round, Brookman is concerned about the Government asking businesses to refuse entry for those who don’t participate in the scheme.
“I’m not fan of the rule as it puts too much of an onus of the team and licensee to police it. The Government needs to do a really good marketing campaign to educate people that it’s not the venue asking for details and being difficult but that the Government is asking for it.”
Brookman also believes that, with many people in England having received their first vaccination, the Government is less likely to call on the data this time round. track and trace will not prove too onerous for businesses
“I would think there will be a tiny number of requests for data. [Track and trace] is almost now more a tool to remind people when they check in somewhere to be more aware that they need to keep their space and be more considerate of others.”