FORWARD planning is the key to making the most of the festive season, according to a major pubco.
Keith Parsons, customer marketing manager at Scottish & Newcastle Pub Company, is offering a number of hints and tips to help tenants prepare for the likely upturn in trade.
He said operators who plan far enough in advance can build a reputation for their outlet as a good place to celebrate.
“Christmas is one of the key times of year in which to generate additional income and attract new customers,” Parsons said.
“To capitalise on this opportunity it is useful to think beyond the Christmas quiz and the Christmas party – to plan well in advance.
“It is the pubs that plan early and get a name for being festive venues that do the best.”
An important first step is to engage with your customer base at an early stage.
“Find out what people in the area would like, be they businesses or residents,” Parsons explained.
“Ask your customers what would appeal to them over the festive season and if you haven’t got new ideas of your own, ask staff or customers for suggestions and the one with the most votes wins a prize.”
Parsons said there’s more to becoming a festive venue than hosting Christmas parties.
He suggested community pubs could offer a free glass of mulled wine for carol singers, while town or city centre outlets could offer storage and a quiet space for shoppers to enjoy a cup of coffee.
Serious consideration should also be given to food.
“A lot of customers will have overindulged on Christmas Day so your Boxing Day menus could feature lite bites and less heavy food,” Parsons said.
“Also, source ingredients locally and make sure you promote this on your menu and provide suppliers with sample menus to give to their customers.”
When it comes to marketing, digital media is said to be an effective way of establishing an outlet’s Christmas credentials, with Parsons urging operators to consider using Facebook and Twitter.
It is also worth bearing in mind that there may be potential for additional festive business in January.
Parsons said: “Don’t forget to use Christmas to generate custom in January.
“Identify those groups of workers whose jobs prohibit them celebrating before Christmas and offer them a venue to have a party in the new year. You could put together some voucher offers for Christmas customers to take up in January.”
Lastly, the focus shouldn’t just be on attracting customers, but also on getting the most from your staff.
“You could encourage staff to sell-up where possible and reward them for their successes; helping them to get home if there is no available public transport will always be a winner,” Parsons added.