Dressing a pub with Christmas decorations such as a tree, fairy lights, tinsel and festive ornaments, can create a warm and welcoming environment to encourage guests to stay longer.
Why not turn this into a community event? A tree decorating party is a traditional Christmas activity that pub owners can share with team members and a select group of local guests. Not only will it engage members of the community and make them feel special, the pub will also end up beautifully decorated.
Most pubs will see an increase in the number of party bookings for December. It is very easy to lose out on Christmas bookings due to a confused system or no system at all. To ensure this runs smoothly, it is a good idea to set up a seasonal booking system as part of the Christmas sales strategy.
Pub owners could to nominate a team member to be the ‘Christmas Champion’ who is in charge of all Christmas bookings; they would also be responsible for ensuring that all other team members know how to use the booking system. Using Guest Record Cards can also help to keep on top of bookings and the conversations with guests.
Many towns and villages will have a calendar of Christmas events such a Christmas market, late night shopping evenings, carol services and the switch-on of the town/village lights etc. After investigating what is happening in the local area, pub owners can devise a plan to tie this in in with their own promotions and offers.
It is essential to devise a Christmas menu that will to cater to large parties and meet guests’ heightened expectations, whilst also being as cost effective as possible.
Offering a set menu with a choice of up to three dishes per course will be manageable for the kitchen team and allow them to focus on the quality and consistency of the dishes. It is important to remember to include gluten free, vegan and vegetarian options and ensure allergens are clear on all communications.
Chefs may also want to add a few festive dishes to the usual menu or specials board, to cater to guests who are not dining as part of a group booking.
According to CGA Peach data, last Christmas saw that people were more willing to go out to drink than eat over the festive season. This is also the time of year where guests are more likely to try new categories and trade up.
This provides a great opportunity to add seasonal and premium options to a drinks menu. Festive favourites, such as mulled wine and alcoholic hot chocolates, are a great place to start. Furthermore, the spirit category does particularly well over the festive season, so, adding festive themed cocktails will appeal to the growing demand for long and mixed drinks.
Christmas brings larger footfall and provides a great opportunity to encourage guests to revisit the pub in quieter months. Loyalty marketing using bounce back vouchers is a great way to reward guests and encourage repeat visits.
In addition, value can be added to the guest experience by offering a special take-home gift. Pub owners could consider creating a packaged gift box of carefully selected drinks or partnering with local businesses.
Partnering with a local business such as a local supplier of biscuits, sweets or cakes, or a local sports club will support with the gift as well as giving exposure to the partnered company.
Charity fundraising is a great way for pubs to give back to the community. Many pubs fundraise throughout the year and make a positive impact on their chosen charities. According to PubAid, ‘more than 2000 charities benefit from the fundraising centred around pubs’.
Christmas is a great time to make the most of guests’ increased generosity for a good cause. Fundraising can be bolted-on to any other planned Christmas activities or events, such as pub quizzes, auctions and fayres by giving a percentage (or all) of the takings to charity.
Holding a Christmas raffle is a popular and easy way to fundraise. Raffle tickets could be sold in the lead up to Christmas in time for the grand reveal on a selected day e.g Christmas Eve. For prizes, pub owners could ask for donations from local businesses, or create bespoke pub vouchers such as, ‘Free Dinner for Two’ or ‘A Free Pint’, to encourage revisits.
It is a good idea to gather the whole team in January to review the Christmas period while it is still fresh in their minds. This will help to establish what went well and what could have been better, to aid improvements for the following year.