Innovation in High-End Food Service During COVID-19 Lockdowns

Tuomi, Aarni
Ashton, Mark
Ellonen, Hanna-Kaisa
Tussyadiah, Iis
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COVID-19 lockdown measures have forced hospitality operators to re-configure their dynamic capabilities through innovating operational practices and pivoting traditional business models. The high-end food service sector has undergone a particularly drastic shift towards a new normal. This qualitative study explores factors facilitating innovation at 16 high-end food service organizations in Finland and the UK through semi-structured expert interviews. Three key themes facilitating innovation during COVID-19 lockdowns are identified: 1) Combining high-tech and high-touch through new ways of producing and providing technology-driven service offerings, 2) Prosocial engagement, i.e. working together with multiple stakeholders to bring added value to all parties, not just the business, and 3) Reactivity, i.e. pushing the traditional boundaries of the sector through quick decision-making and constant iteration and refining of processes and procedures. Drawing our empirical findings together, innovation during COVID-19 lockdowns in high-end food service is conceptualized into three phases: React, Refine, and Reflect.
Hospitality and Tourism in a Global Digital Economy – New Models, Services, and Performance, dynamic capabilities, food service, hospitality, ict, innovation
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