Xmas checklist for operations teams


Xmas checklist for operations teams

As the holiday season approaches, those of us in the hospitality industry know the importance of timing, and getting teams and venues prepped right before customers and workplaces start considering booking parties. At HGEM, with our expertise in guest experience management, we've put together a simple 'Xmas Prep Checklist for Operators' in this blog post, to help hospitality folk navigate the festive challenges with ease.

Xmas Promotions

If you haven't launched your Xmas promotions yet for 2023, you clearly like to live on the edge!

Christmas Table

It's good practice for venues to set up their "Xmas Tables" from the start of September, with decorations, and any Christmas-related information - like Xmas menus/packages, details on how to book, and perhaps even dates for your Christmas Showcase events. As you would expect, Xmas tables are most effective in a visible spot, perhaps near an entrance. Unfortunately, customers have a habit of putting drinks down in places where they ought not to, so it's a good idea to set up a process for teams to clean and re-set the Xmas table every day, as there are few things less inviting than sticky tables and menus. It's surprising how often these get missed!

Christmas Showcase

These events are a great way to draw out Xmas bookings early in the season.

Xmas afternoon tea at LL 1

An offer of free bites and perhaps a glass of prosecco will go quite far with local businesses, and a special offer to book on the spot may help you secure bookings before they've had the chance to consider other venues! Think about whether your event would be accessible to the public or only with pre-booked spaces.

Having some T&Cs in place, such as 2 places per company, may help to keep away cheeky freeloaders looking to have a cheap night out - or perhaps your strategy includes teasing out the whole team so they could stay for an extra couple of drinks to bring in revenue on a quiet evening (Tuesdays, right?).

Website & Socials

It's not too early to ensure your Xmas offers are uploaded onto your website and you're starting Xmas promotions on socials. We love that some of our clients, like Turtle Bay and Cosy Club, have wasted no time and already have Christmas promotions clearly visible on their websites.

Christmas Decorations

Luckily, you don't have to worry about this just yet! Typically, consumers find that the perfect timing for putting up Xmas decorations is straight after Halloween. There's no such thing as 'too much' when it comes to Christmas decorations, but it's always a good idea to match the style and feel of the decorations with your brand vibe.

Booking processes

Does your business have a clear process for dealing with Xmas bookings? Is this written out and/or clearly communicated to the FoH teams?

If not, things to consider for creating your ideal customer booking process are:

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  • What details are required for taking a booking enquiry? Do your teams have access to an enquiry form to make it easier?
  • How quickly should an enquiry receive a call-back / email?
  • Are deposits required to confirm bookings? Can staff members take deposits over the phone?
  • Where are confirmed bookings and booking enquiries stored?
  • Are parties required to pre-order? If so, what are the cut-off dates from suppliers and what is the process for communicating deadlines to parties?
  • Do you have a designated 'Xmas coordinator'?

On the last point, it's worth noting that whilst it's important for one person to have control over confirming bookings, especially if there is risk of overbooking, it can result in the rest of the team lacking the confidence or knowledge to handle enquiries according to your process, which becomes problematic when the Xmas coordinator is absent. This is one of the top reasons why businesses miss out on bookings, so do ensure that all your team members know the process and are able to take bookings to your standard.

Launching Xmas with teams

The success of your Christmas depends greatly on how engaged and aligned your teams are with what you are trying to achieve, so planning the internal launch deserves as much attention and care as goes into developing the menu and promotion. Why not invest your time in a session that's long enough to give your teams the tools they need to make Christmas a hit. Here's some ideas to include in your session:

Promotional menu & drinks tasting

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A Christmas menu cook-off and tasting session for the team is a great way to launch Xmas internally and to get the team engaged and excited. A cook-off is crucial for the team to be able to explain and recommend dishes to (potential) customers.

We know from our data that when a team member demonstrates good product knowledge, the customer is 22% more likely to become a NPS (Net Promoter Score) promoter - or in other words, a raving fan - rather than a detractor.

Dates, promotions & pricing

Talk through all the specials, promotions and pricing. Perhaps have an open discussion on what ideas teams have on how to sell these to customers to encourage engagement, or provide soundbites that they could use to suggest offers with confidence. Talk through the dates on when the promotions run to and from. Ensure every team member is fully aware of what Xmas is all about in your business this year.

Booking process

Take your team through the ideal customer journey on what the booking experience should be like; why not do some role-playing to really bring it to life? If there is any measurement of performance, such as mystery enquiries, we would suggest approaching this with the team as an opportunity to excel and recognise excellence, rather than as a form of punishment. If measuring performance, ensure that every team member understands the criteria that they will be measured on.

Targets and incentives

Xmas targets for revenue and covers can be demanding. Share these with your staff and create a sense that it's a team effort. Regular updates will help keep the team excited, especially if there's a fun way to convey this message. A visual representation, like a cookie jar or Christmas sock that teams could draw to 'fill in' as they reach certain thresholds might go down a treat.

And what better way to motivate the team if there's something in it for them - it always helps to set team goals and rewards. Consider a tiered approach, too, so it's not an 'all or nothing' attitude - if the targets feel almost impossible to reach then this might have a demotivational effect.

How can HGEM help you make Xmas a success?

Call & Enquiry Audits

We can help identify how well your staff take Xmas bookings with our Call & Enquiry audits. With these, you can ensure the booking process is being followed by team members and the call recordings could be used as valuable material for team training sessions. We suggest getting these in place for September / October to get your teams trained up before the big surge in bookings.


It's not just team performance in taking enquiries that should be monitored. Right now is the perfect time to start gathering feedback on every aspect of the customer journey, so that you can identify any problem areas in your business - whether it's related to food, service or atmosphere - and fix it before the busy season. With HGEM, you can gather feedback with either Mystery Guest Audits (standards and processes) or a Feedback Survey (what your customers think).

Incentives & Bonusing

If you want to incentivise teams on their performance, rather than just sales figures, you could use an impartial source of feedback, such as the kind that HGEM provides, as a basis for fair bonusing. Luckily, we have bonus tracking built into our platform, The Hub, to make it really easy.

Shall we discuss what will work best for your business?

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