Amber Staynings is CEO & Founder of Bums on Seats. In this guest post she discusses her optimism for the hospitality industry this Christmas and ways to create alternative revenue streams during difficult times.

As we all know, expectations for Christmas in hospitality this year have been reduced to a state of almost collective despair and uncertainty. Normally venues would already be sitting on 70% of pre-booked sales for the month of December, with key dates fully booked and replete with deposits. The flurry of activity would include weekly meetings, and sales teams/reservationists would be working around the clock to respond to enquiries and customer pre-orders. Private rooms would be booked out and early Christmas parties would already be in full swing. We should be gearing up for the busiest and (in my opinion) the very best month of the year to be in hospitality!

But it is very different this year and the uncertainty of how this trading quarter will end is making planning almost impossible. So why on earth do I still believe Christmas isn’t cancelled?

Call me an eternal optimist but I believe in the Christmas spirit!

The Christmas spirit – and desire to celebrate with loved ones – is Covid-proof. There is strong evidence to suggest that as soon as our customers start to plan their visits with venues once again, they will seek to do so with enthusiasm and careful planning of their own, prompting an upturn around Christmas (tier dependent, of course).

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However, we will need to continue to think – and act – differently in the way we sell and promote each venue as we emerge from the current lockdown – the industry needs to exercise caution and adhere to guidelines to ensure a sustainable return. To succeed, it’s important to make sure you’re at the forefront of your customers’ thoughts, more so now than ever as the festive season is very much upon us with mince pie sales rocketing and a general feeling of ‘Christmas cheer’ beginning to fill the air. 

Creating Business Resilience

This is the time for venues to bolster their marketing and work to extend the festive period through to the end of January (at least). Venues can be bold, spread the festive cheer, and skip the discounts.

Christmas this year is no longer simply a corporate booking occasion filled with big parties. But there are other ways to keep the Christmas spirit alive. Create offerings for smaller groups and lower spenders, design gift vouchers, meal kits or festive hampers and most importantly, make sure you get customer communications right by making sure every interaction is warm, genuine, and helpful. If you get the basics right, they WILL be loyal Customers in 2021! 

paper bags near wall
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Matt Hancock’s latest statement was (and I quote), “We will inject hope into people’s arms”. Well I say that our industry injects ‘Fun, life, and wellbeing’ into people’s hearts. 

So, please continue to innovate at every turn, remembering the essentials first and foremost: your interaction with customers, which must be responsive and genuinely warm. There are many new ideas being tried, such as business to business party boxes, gift vouchers and experiences – I believe this new revenue stream will continue to grow throughout 2021. So, make the most of these opportunities and start to secure pre-bookings for 2021.

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Gift vouchers are especially useful as a way to reward repeat December visitors and encourage loyalty: yet another way of getting bums on seats now and in the future. Doing this is simple: contact Bums on Seats who have partnered with an industry-leading gift voucher delivery business Toggle, who said:

‘I’m delighted to be working with Amber and the team at Bums on Seats. Toggle is all about driving visits to venues, whether through a shared experience, a gift card or a corporate sale. Bums on Seats does the same job and I know that with Amber’s energy, any clients engaged with them will undoubtedly see a massive return on investment – especially when using our two businesses in combination.’

Dan Brookman, CEO Toggle & Airship

Toggle & Bums on Seats have teamed up to give venues insight and tips on HOW and WHY selling gift vouchers & gift Experiences is a stable, sufficient and significant revenue stream for your business. It’s a live 45 min webinar (including Q&A).

Hosted by Bums on Seats CEO, Amber Staynings & Toggle CEO, Dan Brookman, the focus will be on using gifting platforms as a route to drive revenue, build brand awareness and engage with your customers.

From the initial set up, creative uses and sales strategies this webinar will give you the tools to increase revenue and build business resilience for Christmas and beyond.

Thursday 26th November
1pm – 1.45pm

Register here