As a software provider to thousands of players in the South African hospitality industry, we witnessed firsthand the crippling impact lockdown had on our restaurant, wine estate and hotel clients.

Our immediate response when stage 5 lockdown came into full force on 26 March was to build Voucherplan.co.za as a free platform for any small business in SA to generate much-needed cash by selling vouchers for customers to enjoy after lockdown.

The second was Dine In – software allowing restaurants to manage online orders and handle online payments for takeaways, and do their own deliveries to avoid high commission fees charged by third party delivery services.

The third was offering new functionalities such as Digital Menus and Covid-19 Management tools for restaurants to welcome guests back safely and responsibly.

Clients whose Dineplan reservations software accounts were not asked to be frozen, were all automatically given 40% discount on monthly fees until end of October.

Now that we watch with great relief as this invaluable industry rises to its feet, we look back at some constructive lessons learnt.

1. South Africans show their support

Despite the reported three million jobs lost as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, consumers have stepped up to help where they can. As of November, more than 4700 vouchers to the value of over R5 million were purchased via Voucherplan.co.za to support businesses across the country.

2. Our take away from takeaways

There was a huge demand for Dineplan’s takeaway platform ‘Dine In’ during lockdown Level 4. Many believed takeaways from all restaurants were here to stay, but most sit-down restaurants have now returned to doing what they do best – serving tables rather than takeaways.

3. Partnerships pay in hospitality

We have seen clients from restaurants, wine estates and breweries reap the rewards from forming partnerships. The Restaurant Rescue Project comes to mind, but guests can also still find exciting specials at various restaurants due to partnerships, such as ‘Burger & Jack Black Draught’ or ‘Prawns Platter & Iona Wine’ to mention only a few. Specials are listing on the Dineplan app under ‘Restaurant Specials’.

4. Consistently develop new solutions for our clients

The lockdown certainly focused our attention on broadening our platform offerings, which have proven to be immensely helpful during the difficult times. We now remain dedicated to growing our platforms, and look forward to revealing new releases to further aid the industry.

5. Online is the new normal

On top of the significant need for convenience in this day and age, consumers are now more hygiene conscious than ever. Being able to book a table, order your food and pay your bill all online saves time, and prevents the need for cash changing hands.

Instantly book at 1000s of restaurants across South Africa by visiting https://www.dineplan.com/

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