How to plan for Christmas when you can’t plan your weekend.
It can’t be understated how critical Christmas is to the hospitality industry – up to 40% of annual turnover is generated during the season – but with operators literally not knowing whether they’ll be allowed to open this time next week, never-mind two months from now, how the hell do marketers plan for Christmas in 2020??
This guide includes practical tips and creative ideas from our insight across the industry. We hope it helps you to prepare, consider new ideas and capture some of the festive market – whatever that looks like in your tier.
Christmas early birds
If you already have a Christmas offering worked out, get it out there now. Make sure you’re giving people a great reason to get excited to celebrate with you – whether it’s razzle-dazzle champers and glitter all the way, or a sumptuous 5-course feast with petit fours – remind people what they’re missing – and what they won’t be able to recreate at home.
Shift your focus from corporate parties to private groups. With the rule of 6 set to stay and many businesses cutting their office party budget, leisure groups up to 6 is the market to play for. Consider their needs and how you can make the experience appealing to this more intimate occasion.
Reward & de-risk
Incentive early booking with value-adds such as a round of cocktails or a special personal experience for your group, like cocktail-making. It’s a simple approach but it works – Christmas campaigns for Ignite clients are delivering confirmed bookings now using this tactic (if it ain’t broken…).
Price can also be used to great effect in a similar way – start off by selling tables at a lower price per head, and flex according to availability and time. Similarly, you should price more popular days or dates at a premium, helping you to fill a range of dates and day-parts.
A nice way of driving early enquiries is through a lead magnet on your website – this means giving people something in exchange for their contact details – it might be an offer, a piece of exclusive content, or something fun like an online game. Our ‘Christmas Party Animal’ game for Drake & Morgan is driving new leads for Christmas and people love playing and sharing the game with friends. Best yet, the brand has an audience of warm leads they can target later in the year.
Make sure your cancellation policy and terms of booking are clear. Very simply, people need to know that they’re not going to lose money if they’re forced to cancel. Put it out there and it massively de-risks the purchase.
Get the tone right
People need escapism and Christmas magic now more than ever. Great hospitality marketing has always been about selling the dream, so don’t be afraid to get your Richard Curtis on and bring all the feels to your campaign.
Please don’t start with “2020 has been a difficult year for us all…” – everyone knows! Recapping all the doom and gloom in your email/social/website/menu will firstly, remind people of exactly what they’re looking to you for escape from, and second, is a waste of valuable space. Instead create a sense of escapism and optimism in your campaign – the promise of a magical evening where dreams can come true and *clutches pearls* people can actually let their hair down and have some fucking fun! Covid never existed in your winter wonderland, right?!
Adapt your product
Consider how our new lifestyles might present opportunities – traditional trading patterns could be irrelevant this year and with no office to head back to… 👀 The Three Martini Lunch is long overdue a comeback – Three Quarantini Christmas Lunch anyone??
Since business meetings are also permitted*, this massively opens up the opportunity for informal meetings and client lunches – fast Wi-Fi, plentiful plug sockets and a range of soft drinks are great, but for Christmas you could consider a special Christmas set package for this market. Add ‘Business Meeting’ as an occasion to your booking engine or ask people to add this to the notes on their reservation.
*at time of writing!
If you’re in tier 1 or 2 consider take-out or delivered Christmas celebration boxes – can you cater an office do and bring the party to your customers if they can’t come to you?
Outdoor installations like potting sheds or igloos have been popular for years, but this year they’re a fantastic way to increase capacity and sell as an extra PDR.
Clearly this year online Christmas shopping will be huge and forecasters are predicting that mega sales like Black Friday will be bigger than ever as consumers hunt out deals.
Creating your own e-shop to sell gift vouchers, at-home meal kits or merchandise like wine and pre-mixed cocktails will provide an essential alternative revenue stream for hospitality businesses – and isn’t as complex to set up as you might think. Ignite’s Fuse e-commerce platform enables you to easily sell everything for your restaurant, bar or pub through a single platform on your own website. As well as the items mentioned above, you can sell delivered food, click & collect and event tickets, opening up new revenue streams and enabling you to reach more people than ever before, throughout Christmas and beyond.
People want to support the industry right now, so instead of buying cr*p off Amazon give your customers ways to support their local pub or favourite restaurant brand. You can also target corporates for those who do still have budget for small treats for employees.
Keep your brand front of mind
If all else fails and lockdown restrictions in your area stop you from trading, please don’t let that stop you from talking to your customers and keeping your brand front of mind. Really good, engaging social media, live streams and relevant, interesting emails will help you to stay in touch with your customers, even if they can’t celebrate with you IRL.
The crisis means that we all have to adapt and evolve, but we believe that the challenges present significant opportunities for the industry. Ignite are offering free digital consultancy to all hospitality businesses being impacted by the Covid crisis. Please drop us a line firstname.lastname@example.org to talk.