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Anne Williamson, founder and owner of Lucrative Marketing, one of our Boost & Co members, offers some top tips for bars, hotels and restaurants looking to make the most of the festive season.

The time of year is upon us once again when the bars, hotels and restaurants are fully booked for the whole month with groups of work parties. Everyone is ready to let their hair down and remove the shackles of work for one night. For many in hospitality this is the busiest time of year.

The staff planning is done, the workforce is ready and for the next month everyone is delivering service at full speed. Pints are pulled, tables are served and cocktails are made at ninety miles per hour.

However at this time of year, with the increased footfall, new opportunities present themselves. Many will be visiting your venue for the first time. With this in mind what can you do to make sure that this won’t be their last?

Here are just a few tips to help you entice new and repeat customers over the festive period.

Create and enhance your mailing list

Over the festive period you’ll not only see an increase in footfall but also more enquiries into your Christmas party offerings. Keep a note book by the bar and phone to take vital contact details from every enquiry for future promotions. Have a look at MailChimp to help with your e-mail marketing campaigns.

Promote your social networks

Social Media provides some great opportunities to promote those all-important offers and lets people know who is in your venue. Try to encourage happy punters to use Foursquare and Facebook Check-in apps to let others know they are enjoying themselves at your venue.

It may also be worth considering employing a member of staff to take photos of party-goers on their Christmas do to upload to your social pages and encourage punters to tag themselves. Another great way to promote your brand with pictures of happy customers.

Incentivise return visits

Christmas provides the opportunity to showcase your venue to a wealth of new customers. For some there may be one eye on the future, perhaps a family member’s birthday in January or a desire to break out of the depressing dull winter’s nights early in the new-year. Make the most of the high footfall to provide flyers and coupons for new-year offers, incentivising return visits, in particular during the quiet months.

Consider the local influencers

Who are the influencers in your local area? Are there influential bloggers? Do the local press or radio stations have the ear of the public? Review your networks and see if there are any opportunities to promote through the people who have sway in your locale.

Fill in the customer waiting times

At the busiest time of year waiting times could be longer for many punters, but don’t worry, there could be opportunities to turn this to your advantage. In the past some restaurants have been known to hire magicians and other entertainers to provide table side entertainment. In the age of technology is it worth considering working with a digital agency to develop a branded interactive app which customers can download for free, keeping them entertained whilst they wait.

We all know that in the hospitality industry quality, value for money and the customer experience are integral to promoting your business through word of mouth. The recommendations of others will ultimately prove the driving tool in your marketing efforts. However, in an era of online connectivity and influencer marketing there are some quick wins to encourage repeat customers.

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