By Alexander von Schirmeister, Executive Vice President of Europe at SumUp (www.sumup.co.uk)
For many, the end of 2020 will be a welcome sight.With the pandemic disrupting all aspects of our lives and turning the hospitality industry on its head, businesses have been challenged to adapt to ever-changing circumstances, as well as restrictions laid out by the government to mitigate the impact of the virus.
The Christmas period is traditionally a boom time for those in the service industry and, whilst this year may be slightly different, there is still the potential of increased custom from those celebrating the lifting of restrictions and welcoming the festive period.
But how can it be done, safely and successfully, in these trying circumstances? The following should be kept in mind for all businesses within the hospitality sector.
SAFETY IS THE PRIORITY
It’s important to stress that complying with the official government advice is of paramount importance; public health absolutely comes first.This will most likely mean that contactless payments are advised and encouraged, face coverings worn at all times, and social distancing will remain in place. Ensuring that customers are confident of their safety and wellbeing means they can relax, enjoy themselves, and will be willing to return in the future in the knowledge that your operation is sticking to the rules.
KEEP CUSTOMERS INFORMED ONLINE
Ensuring that new and returning patrons understand that you are open for business is essential. In a multi-tiered and sometimes confusing system, being clear with your messaging (how many can sit around a table, outdoor seating arrangements, updated opening times, track and trace policies) could mean the difference between customers choosing your venue over another.
ENGAGE ON SOCIAL MEDIA
The people that follow your business on social media are the loyal patrons who will want to return soonest, so be sure to keep your channels busy with new images, the latest advice, and your Christmas offerings.Your customers want to feel they have an open dialogue with you, so make sure you take the time to respond to any queries on social media, and interact with those that take the time to engage with your page.
EMBRACE THE FESTIVITIES
With the social forecast still uncertain, people will want to enjoy Christmas more than ever this year.The sense of tradition will be incredibly welcome, so make sure that that your customers are aware of seasonal menu addi- tions, discounts, and offers. Festive vouchers and gift cards are a nice way to encourage (responsible) groups to make your business a December staple, as well as ensuring custom right up to Christmas Day.
MAKE CLICK-AND-COLLECT YOUR FRIEND
With the pandemic uncertainty likely to last into 2021, there will be those unwilling to re-enter social environments at this time – particularly if they are looking to visit older relatives at Christmas.This does not, however, have to mean you can’t count on their custom.Takeaway food and drinks have become normal since March, with more people than ever readily enjoying restaurant-quality food at home. Ensuring an easy-to-use delivery system and a ready stock of takeaway items is key to bringing your business to those who can’t necessarily pop in.
EMPHASISEYOUR LOCAL ROOTS
As lockdown commerce skyrockets for the most-established players, there has been an attempt to redress this balance lately through the theme of ‘supporting local’. Revitalising local economies has never been more important, and with this on peoples’ minds it may be pertinent to emphasise your local credentials, whether that be produce, years of local service, staff, and initiatives that your business supports (do you donate to a local food bank? Sponsor a local kids football team?) Now is the time to make sure your customers know your importance to the community.