There are a number of prominent celebrations in the year that deserve their own little write up. Most are based on religious or cultural celebrations but have developed or are developing into mainstream events. The biggest of which is upon us now. Yep it’s the C word, Christmas.
Before we get into this, lets briefly look at some others that occur during the year. Easter is another big event and so is New Years Eve/Day. But please be aware that these celebrations are not all on the same date for everyone. So, it is important to understand your demographic to know when they will celebrate. We will have a whole different blog on New Years Eve, because there is a lot to talk about regarding it.
Eid is something that is becoming more widely celebrated around the world. Although traditionally just celebrated by Muslim’s, there has become an increase in understanding in the faith and the meaning of Eid. Now many non-muslim people have joined the celebrations, with their muslim friends. I am not going into a lot of detail about this, as I am not qualified to. But if there is anyone out there who would like to add to this, please do. However, I would like to highlight the fact that this celebrates the end of Ramadan, a month of practising restraint, which also means not eating during the hours of dawn and dusk. This is very important to take into account if you have Muslim staff or customers. For the staff make sure they are supported in during this month, and for customers, maybe look at changing opening hours if you can.
Now for the main event. CHRISTMAS. Yes, I know it is only November, but this is the month that Christmas actually starts for us. Sorry, let me correct this statement. This is the month the Christmas events starts for us. As hospitality business, this is the time of year where you tend to make 40-50% of your sales (depending on where you find your statistics).
The past couple of years have seen things change, due to circumstances. There is a weariness about Christmas this year, and what it will be like. The problem at the moment is that there is a lot of conflicting information in the media and social media. This is unsettling for businesses and customers alike. But the good news is that people are ultimately still social creatures, who wearily want to celebrate the season, which historically is full of hope and festive fun.
What does that mean for venues?
It means a balancing act. It means keeping up with the latest information. (UKHospitality is great for this.). It means planning for a great Christmas run, while having alternative options. Companies are booking for Christmas with full venue hires, but don’t forget the smaller parties too. In fact, there is a large uptake in departmental or small company parties this year. People are opting for this, due to some teams still working from home and the concern that some employees may need to self-isolate.
Hopefully there will be no legal changes to how we can hold events over the next few months. But we do need to look at ways of protecting these events, or rather the revenue from these events. Make sure that you dot your i’s and cross your t’s on your terms and conditions. Giving cancelation timings and the amount of deposit kept in relation to this is important. But there are ways of making it not so harsh if it is due to covid. Have a discussion within your management team of putting an option through that allows people to move their Christmas party (if they have to cancel due to covid), to become a staff party in January. This can take the sting out of people potentially loosing their deposit and give you the option to make money in the new year.
If you do have a cancellation during the Christmas season, open anyway. There will be people that are on their way or coming back from events that want somewhere to go. There will also be people that haven’t booked or couldn’t get in anywhere, that are not having a company Christmas party on the day/night.
Which brings me to the social media marketing of Christmas. To be honest, you should have most of your bookings in now. But whether you do or don’t, it is still worth doing social media. Highlight days where you have ability. Make people feel safe about bookings and covid. But don’t just sell, sell, sell. Now is a good time to put out hints about how to have a great Christmas party. Hints on the organisational side. This means you keep in the minds of people and help them to be more organised so when they get to you, things can go a little smoother.
The other reason you want to start building awareness about your venue and Christmas is for those cancellations. As soon as big parties cancel, ramp up the social media. This needs to be done as soon as you know about vacancies, for it to be most effective. Maybe do a ‘vacancy watch’ and get people plugged into the idea that you are giving updates in case they want to go out with their friends.
Now is a top up time and last-minute parties time for bookings. It is also the time to work out what incentives to give those booking or those attending the event, to encourage them to come back next year.
This year has been a little different to what we expected, but traditionally we start thinking about Christmas early in the year. So, make notes about how your Christmas goes. The more detail, the better and then you can make a strategy for how to approach Christmas 2022. But we can talk about that next year.
Have a great Christmas!!