Profitable Christmas: Attract spend-wary customers

Consumers will still be wary of spending, even over Christmas

Although the hospitality sector is recovering well after the recession, and despite consumers’ traditional increase in spend during December, the Government’s £80bn spending cuts may mean that restaurants, pubs and hotels will need to work just as hard as last year to attract trade.

Many businesses affected by the cuts will be reeling in their expenditure, while consumers, particularly those in the public sector, follow suit in fear of impending job losses.

This coupled with more disruptive snow and ice predicted to match that of last winter could spell a tricky festive season for hospitality operators.

With Christmas the most profitable time of year, it’s imperative that operators effectively market their restaurant, pub or hotel, get their offer spot on, and get it running as efficiently as possible before the festive season hits.

Stocking fillers

Value for money has never been more important to both businesses and consumers, who need to justify every pound spent on leisure.

And with so many hotels, restaurants and pubs vying for those lucrative Christmas bookings, getting your offer to stand out is a simple matter of giving customers more bang for their buck.

“Consumers are being more selective because of the economic climate,” says Mark Guymer, head of vouchers for moneysupermarket.com. “A lot of data at the moment is suggesting further slow down primarily as a result of the spending review, so for restaurants this means the Christmas period is going to be tougher than we would have forecast earlier in the year.”

Operators need to look at their offer and ensure they are adding value, whether that’s through discounts, better quality food and drink, complimentary Champagne (or Prosecco), or service.

Spread the word

Market your offer well in advance, while giving your customer something they may not get if they visit at any other time of the year.

“Consumers are quite fickle at Christmas and swayed by offers and new dishes on menus. Now is the time for restaurants to market themselves to their loyal database of customers – either through email, text message, Facebook or even post,” says Peter Backman, managing director of market analyst Horizons.

This will hopefully translate to repeat bookings once January hits, but instead of waiting for consumers to come to you, make sure you capture the details of everyone visiting your restaurant, pub or hotel and add them to your, hopefully growing, database. This includes party-goers and plus ones, as well as the organisers and bookers.

Take a hint from Scrooge

Of course it’s no good exhausting yourself to increase Christmas revenue if your costs are through the roof.

With winter and increased gas bills fast approaching, now is the time to review your own spending to keep your bottom line healthy into 2011 and beyond.

All this week we’ll be looking at the ways you can reduce your Christmas outgoings, attract spending-shy consumers, and make a good impression to keep them coming back time and time again.

Read more articles in this series here.

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