In 2016, research revealed that millennials were transforming holiday dining. This resulted in the profits for US independent restaurants that opened on Christmas and New Year’s Day increasing by 40 to 50 percent.
It’s a similar story in the UK, where Christmas Day restaurant dining rose by over 200% between 2012 and 2017.
Hotels should be braced for an increasing desire to stray from traditional Christmases, too. For instance, last year, it was revealed that a third of Brits were checking into hotels to avoid family dramas.
Hyperbole or a flash in the pan? We’ll let you decide that, but, clearly, preparing for a bumper Christmas is something that should be at the top of every hospitality operator’s to-do list.
The early preparations
How early should you start preparing for the festive season in hospitality? Many will say as soon as the summer ends, but there’s no harm in doing so as soon as you’re ready to - even if that’s January!
When you’re ready to start planning, take into account the following key areas:
- Catering for the masses. Although millennials have been leading the charge, as a hospitality operator, you need to cater for all ages and demographics during the holidays. Take into account kid-friendly menus and make sure all allergens are catered for.
- Think drinks. Drinks are just as important as food at Christmas, therefore if that means designing an entirely new festive menu - go for it!
- Go conventional - and unconventional. When it comes to the main menu for your festive period, the traditional turkey dinner is vital, but so too are unconventional options for the more adventurous. Speak to your chef early on to get their input on this.
- Get on social early. Clearly, you don’t want to start shouting about your Christmas offering in March, but if you want to create a sense of anticipation and scarcity for the offer, definitely start hitting social with it once the summer has departed.
The good news? You don’t have to do loads to make your establishment as festive as possible for the holiday season. The key lies in finding smaller things you can change that have a big impact.
A decent-sized, well-decorated Christmas tree is an obvious starting point, but it’s also worth investing in seasonal napkins, cloths and centrepieces. They’ll make a bigger difference in your dining room than you might think.
Remember that decorations can - and probably should - extend to your branding, too. So, give your logo a dusting of snow, and if you really feel like properly going for it, add a festive character to your social graphics to give them real identity. There’s a reason John Lewis uses a cute dragon in its 2019 commercials.
How to undertake festive hospitality advertising
This is your chance to strike while the iron is hot.
When you’ve done all of your early preparations, the fun can really start - advertising all of the festive goodness you have to give.
Here’s a few ideas to get you started.
- Your website. As previously noted, Christmas-ifying your branding is a great idea and doesn’t have to be tacky. When December hits, make sure you already have Christmas-inspired design assets in the bag that can be applied to the key pages of your website (you’ll need help from your website designer here).
- Design holiday specials. Make your hotel or restaurant more competitive by designing some holiday specials. These could be limited-time room packages or dining experiences. Give them a name and an end date to indicate scarcity.
- Get blogging. As the festive season draws close, start blogging about the events you have coming up and any of the offers or specials you put together. Interview the chef and get their take on the festive menu. A blog or two a week will give you enough fodder for social media to start drawing in some organic website visitors.
- Don’t forget the hard copy stuff. There’s a reason you still see festive black boards and fliers in hotels and restaurants advertising special offers and booking requirements for that period: they work!
- Run a contest or giveaway. There are few better ways to encourage engagement on social media than to give something away. And, by doing that with a Christmas table booking or discounted festive stay, you should get plenty of interaction and shares.
And finally: getting the team Christmas-ready
You could have the best Christmas marketing and decor plan in the world, but if the team don’t buy into it, you won’t deliver the best guest experience.
Christmas should be an enjoyable - if occasionally stressful - time of the year to work, and you can ensure that’s the case with your team by getting them on board early.
Pay close attention to the rota and get the thorny topic of holiday working out of the way, first. Find out who is willing to work during that period and those who would rather not and work the rota around that.
Then, the rest is simple: just involve your staff as much as you can in the planning. Get them in on the marketing ideas, promotional aspects and, if Sarah in the kitchen is a great digital designer at home, why not ask her to spruce up the logo?
The more your team is encouraged to get involved with Christmas preparations, the more likely they are to enjoy working when it finally hits.
The festive season is a brilliant time of the year for hospitality businesses, so make sure you spruce up yours and make it fit for the increasing number of people who are dining and staying out at Christmas.