Covid-19: Surviving the Downtime with Industry Peers – Platform Hospitality Group

We are living in interesting times. The impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality business is unprecedented. In light of the unique circumstances we find ourselves in, we thought it would be helpful to gather learnings and insights from industry veterans in hopes that we can help each other out. Have stories and insights to share? Let us know at

Platform Hospitality Group
“We’re not sure how long this pandemic will last, how else and to what further extent it is going to affect us, but every step we take as a company and the measures and policies we introduce will be to create the best-case-scenarios we can for our people, the business, our stakeholders, and our guests” -Tay Hui Ying, Director of Marketing, Platform Hospitality. Image credit: Platform Hospitality Group

Since 2016, Platform Hospitality Group has launched in Kuala Lumpur fashionable concepts through a combination of modern design, welcoming hospitality, and incredible flavours. Notable brands include Entier, beautifully designed by award-winning Shanghai-based design firm Neri & Hu. Entier, an old French word meaning ‘whole’ or ‘entire’, is the inspiration behind their nose-to-tail culinary approach. Filled with lush greenery, Botanica+Co is one of the most irresistible establishments in the city. Today, the brand is nestled in the 5-star hotel Alila Bangsar on the ground level, and within the urban metropolis of Bangsar South. Pacific Standard, a classy retro-Hollywood concept cocktail bar located on level 41 of Alila Bangsar, exudes the old-world glamour of mid-20th century Los Angeles. The Lido, a rooftop event space is set against the panoramic backdrop of the city skyline, and perched high on levels 42 – 44 of Alila Bangsar’s rooftop.

An Open Letter

 By Tay Hui Ying, Director of Marketing, Platform Hospitality Group

The Covid-19 pandemic is global; it sweeps across the world and affects lives in ways the people of our time have never seen. The uncertainty of it all puts a great deal of stress on people, from breadwinners of families to business owners in charge of their own businesses and the livelihoods of their employees, and many more.

Hospitality is all about delivering services and experiences, and the human touch is essential. As the world goes into #WFH (work from home) mode, most from our team are unable to do that. Only our head office team can bring work home. Following the MCO, we had to close all our outlets and we are currently operating one outlet for takeaway and delivery.

Those who serve in the hospitality industry work very long hours and any time for themselves or their families is rare. This situation is unfortunately unique – for those who live with their families, they find themselves dedicated to family-mode, while those who are living alone will have to cope with isolation. Taking this in a positive note, we have been encouraging our team who never got much time outside of work to enjoy that time while keeping our thoughts with the workplace.

Despite this difficult time for the industry, it is ultimately important to endure through and think forward about business continuity. We are facing the most difficult time our business has seen, but not allowing ourselves to dwell deep into this uncertainty and bleak situation gives us the mind to think about the next few steps, including how we can pick up the business again when all this is eventually over.

Platform Hospitality Group’s business strategies

We’re not sure how long this pandemic will last, how else and to what further extent it is going to affect us, but every step we take as a company and the measures and policies we introduce will be to create the best-case-scenarios we can for our people, the business, our stakeholders, and our guests.

Our group had begun to put in place a pandemic plan illustrating our plans for various phases of actions should Covid-19 had turned for the worst. This included the ways our business outlets would operate, how we would keep our establishments safe for our guests and our staff, ways to keep ourselves sustainable when the business gets naturally affected, what to do should any staff or guest that had visited our restaurant were to be reported to have contracted the virus, and more.

Cleanliness Measures

Sanitization of surfaces in kitchen and within the outlets, proper handling of cutlery and tools used for food and beverage, staff grooming and wearing of essential food handling gear have always followed a very strict SOP mandated for the group. Following news that was a wide community-spread of Covid-19 in Malaysia, we very quickly put in place the following:

  1.  Temperature checkpoints and warning signages regarding Covid-19 symptoms at entrances of our establishments. This was also applied to back-of-house entrances for staff since February.
  2. Measures to effect social distancing such that all tables are at least 1-metre apart from the next.
  3. Removing seats at all bar counters and reducing seating in the restaurant by about 40%.
  4. Split mealtimes for all our staff and changing all staff meals to pre-packed meals instead of the usual buffet style.

We had put the above in place before the Prime Minister announced the MCO and what it meant. The MCO came faster than we had expected, but given the fast-evolving nature of this situation coupled with what we had observed was happening around the world, our group was prepared for this quick and sudden change and we were fast to plunge into another mode altogether

Heart-warming Stories

Our suppliers are important to us, and we value the relationship and trust we had built. We quickly ensured that all of our suppliers are paid immediately so that they were able to also move forward on their end.

We were also extremely touched when our landscapist offered to service our outlets without charges for 3 months when we had wanted to temporarily suspend their services to cut costs on our end. If you know our brands you will know how much landscaping we do since we use only real plants, so this was something extremely big and encouraging for us. This is something we will definitely remember.

This is the time to let gestures of kindness motivate each other. Help each other out where we can and build good relations for the run ahead.

Staff Welfare

Staff morale anywhere is unquestionably a wavering factor in times like this. It is important to keep communications open, to keep our staff well informed on the company’s policies and measures, and to check how they are doing every now and then. It is important for the employers and employees to both be understanding towards each other’s’ needs and concerns, and to stay united in tiding through this.  Our focus in getting through this period is to keep the company together, and we will design policies and measures that can create the best-case scenarios for the company as a whole.

Cost and Revenue Strategies: Be Forward-looking

Yes, we are confined to our homes now and the business is primarily on hold, but a greater danger will be to dwell deep into this negative mode or to take it that we are on a national leave. It is easy to fall into that state of mind especially when there are many limitations coupled with fear and uncertainty going around. But we must be forward-looking. This time can be used to plan and work on new strategies for the business so that when it is time to re-open, we can pick up from where we had left off and not waste time in between. The team might be staying home for a month, but it doesn’t mean that we cannot make use of creativity and technology to continue training our staff or to build their product knowledge.

If you find yourself only making plans on how you can pick up your business again after the MCO, then you would have regretfully wasted too much precious time.

Online strategies

If your business can generate a fair amount of revenue from takeaways and deliveries responsibly and safely, continue with that. Otherwise, with your audience stuck at home, now is a good time to work on brand reminders. Create content that is targeted to their current needs and interest. This content might be quite different from your usual and might take on a much more casual approach but keeping your brand around in people’s minds is important now, so my advice is – whatever rocks the boat, do it! Any message that is uplifting, heartfelt, sincere, heart-warming, family-oriented, or self-improving are all good. If it doesn’t fit your brand story in normal times, you are always free to delete them in the future.

How can patrons support us?

At this moment during the MCO when nothing is operating except for takeaway service in Botanica+Co, we are treating the 6 business outlets as 1 entity in the way we schedule our staff on duty. Essentially, we open only Botanica+Co at Alila Bangsar for takeaway and deliveries currently. You can take away salads, pizzas, sandwiches, a variety of mains, and even daily baked pastries. More details here: You will also be able to order Botanica+Co to go on Grab or Food Panda.

However, since MCO has been extended, we are now looking at putting up ‘Bo+Co Home Chef Kits’ for customers to order for delivery sets of pre-packed ingredients so that you can assemble a piece of Botanica+Co in your kitchen. With Entier, we are also looking quickly into takeaway and delivery services. We had a few days ago launched a limited batch of our bottled signature Entier Kombu Butter, and this has been a real hit. It is very encouraging when our customers continue to tag us with their butter stories at #entierbuttertimes. We also are looking into how we can continue making gourmet goods from Entier, however, packaging supplies are a bit of a problem right now, so we’ll see!

As long as we all do this in a responsible and safe manner, every support you provide to us really helps to keep us afloat.

Message to industry peers

Platform Hospitality Group

The Covid-19 hits our industry hard, and the scary part is that we have no clue what lies ahead. All of us are moving towards takeaways and deliveries, our daily revenue is literally non-existent, and this is not simply happening only to our group – it is happening to every F&B establishment in the country, and in almost most parts of the world.

Platform Hospitality Group will keep fighting on, and we will continue coming up with new projects and measures, policies, initiatives, marketing strategies, etc. However, when the impact reaches so far as to literally drain-dry businesses for many weeks while employees, rentals and fees are still being paid, something greater needs to be done. Business associations need to keep pushing for that, and industry thought leaders and influencers have the ability to motivate and garner support for the industry. The authorities essentially need to step in to assist the industry through its policies and strategies. Otherwise, the progress that our city has seen in the F&B development over the past years, will be undone.

Industry peers, let’s take this time to look ahead. If you are going deep into dark thoughts, take comfort knowing that socializing is key to the human condition, and we are all but caged up social animals longing to break free. We are all looking forward to that meal you are serving. Not now, but eventually. Press on!!

Tay Hui Ying

Director of Marketing, Platform Hospitality





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