A customer is the life, not just for Christmas

You may not be dreaming of a White Christmas, but I’m sure you’d like a profitable one, so you don’t leave things to chance.

Over the Christmas period you will inevitably have a number of guests or diners who will be coming to your hotel or restaurant the first time, so ensure you create a great first impression and a reason for them to return. Equally you’ll no doubt have a number of your regulars who are coming to you because they know you, like what you offer and trust you’ll deliver what they expect. Ensure you don’t disappoint and demonstrate you appreciate their loyalty.

Maintain your standards

Just because you’re busy or you are offering some good deals, don’t let this be an excuse for poor service or poor value for money. This could be damaging for your reputation and potentially embarrassing for your existing loyal customers, particularly if they are entertaining or have referred you to others.

It will obviously also leave a poor first impression for those who are guests and potentially visiting you the first time.

Trading up

Whereas your customers might be looking for a good deal on the basic price, particularly for group bookings, this doesn’t mean to say that individuals will not be prepared to you trade up to a premium drink or additional menu items. Ensure your team are in a position to make suggestions and recommendations, and are fully aware of what is feasible, and what’s not a practical proposition. Then check that your bar and kitchen staff are prepared and can cope with the ad hoc and additional items.

According to a survey by The Mystery Dining Company many people planning to eat out over Christmas are not making advance bookings. This means hotels and restaurants offering good value and being flexible with walk-ins versus bookings could benefit from last-minute business.

Show your appreciation

Nothing should be competing with your Christmas promotions so don’t plan any other offers or accept other vouchers during this period that undermine your potential Christmas revenue.

But have everything in place for the New Year and what you’ll have on offer that’s exclusive to your Christmas guests as an incentive for them to return sooner rather than later. Even if partygoers are not in the mood to be parting with their personal details that can be added to your database, at the very least have vouchers, brochures or even a goodie bag as a taster of those special bonuses, offers or packages you’ve lined up just to them.

Of course in a perfect world you’ll also be getting their contact details so you can add them to your mailing list, but ensure you have some incentive for them to do this; maybe a prize draw in the New Year, ensuring of course it’s still relevant to non-locals if you’re attracting visitors from further afield, or maybe even for a draw on the night for each of your party nights. If your market is predominantly locals, talk to your suppliers or other local businesses who may be happy to sponsor some other prizes in return some publicity. Bearing in mind you’ll be busy, whatever you use for capturing details make it simple.

Keep in touch

Schedule some time after Christmas to follow up with your mailings. Keep your list of segmented so party organisers on one list, and guests on another so you can keep your mailings pertinent and personal.

This will enable you to follow up with all your party organisers or the person who made the booking to thank them for their booking. Show you appreciate their feedback so you can learn from them what worked well, and what they didn’t like, so you can improve on it for next year. Don’t just do this on the night or at the end of their stay, but follow up post event.  If there is anything they didn’t like they may be reluctant to tell you there and then in front of other guests.

Following up now helps to develop your relationship, and increases your chances of repeat business either during the year or next Christmas.

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