By Danilo Mangano, General Manager Europe SevenRooms (www.sevenrooms.com)
The Christmas season always requires significant planning and preparation on behalf of hospitality operators so they can maximise success at the busiest time of the year, and 2020 is no different.While it may not be the festive run-up that we are all accustomed to, Christmas is certainly not cancelled. For the sector that has shown continued resilience and proactivity throughout the pandemic, there are still opportunities to bring the Christmas spirit to guests and drive revenue at this important time of the year.
Whether they are on-premise or at home, consumers will certainly be looking for ways to mark the party season. Hospitality operators are well-positioned to be able to provide these meaningful experiences that not only add a touch of some sparkle but that are also pivotal to driving long-term guest loyalty.
DIVERSIFYING REVENUE-DRIVING STRATEGIES
Larger parties and gatherings inside venues may be off the menu for now, but there are many other ways that operators can connect with guests. Despite the challenges this year has brought, it has also provided an opportunity for operators to diversify experiences and find new and creative ways to delight customers. With varied guidelines in place across the country and the situation ever-evolving in the run-up to Christmas, having lockdown-proof strategies in place will ensure that things can still go ahead as planned, even if rules change.
Christmas hampers made up of dishes crafted by the chef are one way to bring experiences into guests’ houses. Including menu cards as part of the hampers with ideas on how the contents can be enjoyed is also an opportunity for the venue to showcase culinary creativity. Operators could also tie in themed online cook-alongs, which are a great alternative to the traditional Christmas party this year. Pop-up stands outside venues offering festive drinks for sale can be an effective way to encouraging passers-by to stop and find out more about other festive experiences and menus available in the run-up to Christmas.
PRIORITIZING DELIVERY & TAKEAWAY
For some guests, dining out isn’t currently an option or they may feel more comfortable staying at home. With this in mind, it’s imperative that operators have delivery strategies in place so they can remain connected to these customers and don’t miss out on valuable revenue. Using data insights to tailor special delivery offers – such as a guest’s favourite side dish for free with an order – can make a customer feel loved and encourage a purchase. Additionally, including a special festive treat with each delivery order, whether it’s homemade mince pies or biscuits that customers can decorate at home, is a simple yet effective way to surprise and delight this season.Whatever delivery experiences a venue is offering, where possible an operator should enable direct ordering and delivery.Third-party providers offer convenience but are less cost-effective in the long-term. Plus, by offering a direct solution for customers, operators can benefit from gaining access to, and leveraging, data insights that help drive richer relationships.
DRIVING LOYALTY WITH THE LOCALS
Local audiences are more important than ever for hospitality operators as they continue to overcome the challenges of the pandemic. And, with consumers craving the experiences they have missed out on because of lockdown or lack of international travel this year, there is a lot to be gained for venues who get it right. Through leveraging customer data, operators can create targeted offers that encourage guests to make table reservations or place orders for delivery from venues that are closer to home.With travel set to remain limited for at least the first part of next year, guests are likely to spend more money on local dining experiences, so ensuring that every interaction a consumer has is positive and memorable is important to driving loyalty with this valuable audience. Building a deeper understanding of guests at every interaction – from their favourite meals and preferred wines, to historical spend and number of visits – helps operators identify upsell opportunities while providing the experiences that bring guests back again and again.
Hospitality operators are certainly contending with more challenges in the run-up to Christmas this year, but the opportunities to delight guests this season are still available.
Consumers have had a year like no other and many will be craving experiences that help bring some festive joy, no matter how they are enjoying them. In building direct and meaningful relationships with guests, operators can cater to the individual needs of diners, providing memorable and exciting offerings that will continue to boost loyalty into the new year.