Lockdown 2.0 - Utilising Idle Time

Lockdown 2.0 - Utilising Idle Time

Lockdown 2.0 - Utilising Idle Time

Coming out of lockdown will potentially be more difficult for operators this time round, as businesses have to be ready to go from the outset, or otherwise risk wasting precious Christmas trade. The remaining weeks of lockdown are therefore a good opportunity to audit, reassess and plan for success, both for reopening, and for the new year.

Out of discussions with clients, collaborative partners in the hospitality industry, and picking up insights from other commentators from the trade, we've put together some tips and considerations on what businesses may want to focus on during these weeks of downtime, to get a running start.

Delivery & Takeaway

Many F&B operators have been quick to pivot back to delivery and takeaway services during lockdown. Tapping into this market can be a lucrative source of income, but it also helps brands to maintain visibility and keep engagement with customers going, so that it's easier to attract customers back quickly after reopening.

There's an opportunity to set up Christmas and NYE themed delivery kits and party packages, as people are less likely to go out this year for either. A snap poll by the research consultancy KAM Media found:

  • 24% of respondents would consider purchasing a takeaway from their local pub or restaurant over the upcoming Christmas period. This figure rose to 36% if their local hospitality venues were forced to close.
  • A quarter (25%) said they would consider a takeaway Christmas dinner on Christmas Day specifically, if venues were forced to close. One fifth (20%) said they would consider purchasing a “ready-to-cook Christmas meal kit” from their local pub/restaurant if they were closed on Christmas Day.
  • A quarter (25%) said they would consider purchasing a “New Year’s Eve ‘celebrate at home’ kit” from a local pub or restaurant.

We've also seen a rise in Cocktail Making and Wine Tasting kits available for delivery, which could easily be tailored to a Christmas theme.

Presales and Gift Vouchers

Another potential revenue stream is pre-sales: cocktail masterclasses, party packages, themed tasting menus, etc. Hospitality experiences could sell very well in the current climate, especially with some clever marketing to support sales, e.g. "Give the gift of hospitality" or the "Support your local community" angle. It's important to give consumers plenty of flexibility with refund and rescheduling options, to provide piece of mind in regards to not losing out because of future restrictions.

People are craving to go out and rediscover the magic of hospitality, so it should be an easy sale, as long as the focus is on offering the customer a fabulous experience, rather than selling bookings.

Hospitality supplier Toggle, for example, can set up a fully integrated gift card & voucher solution for your business, which may be worth looking into, to boost your pre-Christmas sales.

Give 'em something to talk about

Use this time to put together something new for customers to get excited about, and post it all over social media (count-down style perhaps?) to get them ready to visit your venue as soon as they possibly can.

A few ideas:

Decorations - Create the most magical Christmas environment (fairy lights, trees, the whole 'shebang'). It's very likely that Christmas trade will spill over well into the new year, so Christmas decorations will get a bit more shelf life this year. Offering Xmas experiences and packages in the new year may also be sensible, there will be plenty of friendship groups and office teams that will have missed out on the narrow window between lockdown and Christmas to go out and celebrate together.

Mini refurb - wow your customers with a quick little refresh of your venue

Outdoor spaces - ensure you make the most of your outdoor spaces for 2021, with potential Covid restrictions in place for a long time, outdoor seating can make a big difference in covers and revenue in 2021. Consider investing in outdoor heating and lights, but also think about ways to make the outdoor seating more cosy. Lots of people missed out on their annual Xmas market experience this year, so they'll be looking to recreate it elsewhere. Consider this also when putting together your winter menu - do you have hot drinks on offer? What about food that can be easily eaten outside?

New Menu - put together a delectable new menu and post previews on social media, building up interest. Play interactive games, such as 'guess the dish' for a chance to win a free meal.

The key isn't what you do, but that you do something. Give customers a reason to visit your venue as soon as they can, get them excited and engaged on social media during lockdown, and your customers will reward your efforts with visits and increased loyalty.

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