The festive period is a bustling time of year for hospitality businesses. It’s not just an opportunity to boost your sales, providing customers with exceptional service during December is a sure-fire way to drive repeat custom and build momentum for the new year. Here’s our advice on how to make this Christmas a roaring success.


By this stage, plans for the festive period will already be in place. With seasonal staff recruited, menus written, and bookings taken, operators must now consider how to implement their strategy as effectively as possible. Doing so will ensure sales opportunities are maximised, and customers are provided with excellent service.


Push Premium Products & Upsells


Christmas and New Year’s celebrations provide the perfect opportunity to upsell premium products. With customers looking to indulge or celebrate in style, it is important to ensure your staff are pushing premium items such as champagne on arrival and top-shelf spirits after dinner.


In an increasingly health-conscious society, many customers will be looking for exciting soft drinks over the festive period. You should ensure to accommodate for these guests, and premiumisation of your list to interesting options is a good way to do so. Alcohol-free spirits are no longer seen as an expensive gimmick, they can provide a genuine taste of the party for those that maybe don’t have the choice to indulge in something a little more intoxicating. Soft drinks are also typically high margin items, so now is a perfect time to spruce up your offer.


Over the Christmas period, far fewer people are looking for an early night, so if you have dining guests, remember to brief your waiting team to offer everyone a coffee after dinner or even something a little stronger, before running the final bill.


Making sure your team are aware of upselling opportunities is essential. Students back to earn some Christmas cash aren’t just there to bring the festive cheer, they can be the difference between a party opting for an entry level bottle of fizz and your guests enjoying champagne at five times the price.


Communicate with your Team


Increased demand during December means managers will need to delegate well and make staff aware of their additional responsibilities. Allocating job roles and specific tasks like regularly restocking fridges, refilling ice buckets and topping up stations will lead to smooth service and consequently enhance your customers’ experience. It is also important to recognise and praise staff for their extra effort during what can be an exhausting month. Visibly thanking your staff for their hard work and treating them to an occasional drink after busy shifts will go a long way to keeping morale high.


Communicate with your Customers


For many venues, communication with customers will already have taken place when taking bookings and pre-orders. Where possible, pre-ordering of food and drinks is a great way to ensure your business not only gets stock levels right over the festive period, but it is guaranteed sales, making your forecasts more robust and helping you better plan your labour requirements and planning.


Having a bookings policy in place, including pre-order expectations for large parties, will allow you to deliver volume effectively and provide better service. Making sure your team have a heads up about big party numbers, timings and other details can both improve their efficiency but also allow them the valuable time needed to upsell and engage with the guests.


Applying a minimum spend is a good way to guarantee you get value for your venue space in a period where it is at a premium. Minimum spend requirements should be clearly communicated with customers prior to their booking to ensure there are no surprises during their visit. Communicating with your customers prior to events will lead to a smoother service and happier guests


Capacity Engineering


Many venues will undergo a dramatic transformation during December. Using your available space wisely can be a great way to maximise sales. Ensuring you have enough tables and rearranging these to meet demand is one way of accommodating more bookings. You should also consider how you split your site by bookings. This, of course, depends on the nature of the venue – how do you give people private areas? How many tables do you have available, and how frequently do you turn them. Make sure your guests are aware of how long they have a table or space for… of course the key is then ensuring you can deliver the experience they deserve without them feeling rushed. Your team need to be effectively briefed in booking numbers, specific requirements and any potential snagging points or bottle necks (we all know these are inevitable at some point when you’re running at maximum capacity, how well your team are informed can be the make or break of a tough situation).


Consider your Trading Hours


Extending the trading hours of your business can allow you to capitalise on increased sales opportunities over the festive period, with customers wishing to continue seasonal celebrations late into the night. Arrangements for staff to work outside of normal trading hours will need to be made, and any council applications to extend licencing hours (Temporary events notices) should be submitted in advance of key dates.


The festive period is an excellent opportunity for hospitality businesses to enhance their reputation with customers and generate repeat custom in the following weeks and months.


It goes without saying that all the tools you need boost your sales and reputation are already available in S4labour. SS4shiftsuccess from S4labour is a recently launched shift management and communication tool which gives managers the chance to allocate their team sections, job roles and specific tasks as well as briefing important information such as upsells, incentives and party booking details. The team can get all of the information they need for their shift through our App, ensuring nobody ever misses a briefing again.


Make sure you are getting full use out of S4labour to ensure your teams are scheduled for the optimal times during busy periods. This allows you to take advantage of increased sales opportunities, whilst maintaining high standards of service and driving repeat business.

Tom Marshall is a former Brakspear GM and M&B lead general manager. He is our in house productivty guru with over 12 years expereince managing high profile venues.

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