19 October

Industry Trends

Top tips to guarantee your Christmas bookings are wrapped up

Olivia FitzGerald looks at technology and table bookings over the Christmas period and provides top tips to ensure every opportunity is maximised.

Being prepared is the key to a successful Christmas.  If you don’t have your ducks, or should I say turkeys, lined up by now then you definitely run the risk of being left out in the cold.

So, here’s my top tips for delivering a cracking Christmas:

Having the right technology

  • Make sure you have the right technology in place to help manage bookings during the busiest and most profitable time of the year. The majority of people start thinking about their Christmas plans after they’ve finished the working day, with the most popular times to make a booking being 5:30-6pm and 8:00–8:30pm.  So, given that most people are booking outside traditional office hours, whilst commuting from work or watching TV after a busy day, it’s really important they can easily make a reservation on the go using a mobile device.

Responsive website

  • With increasing choice, competition for Christmas bookings is fiercer than ever and operators need to provide a compelling proposition for customers to book with them. They need to provide a highly responsive site, showing live availability to party bookers browsing online.

Easy to use on any platform

  • The booking facility needs to be easy to use on any device, and an engaging Christmas menu that really resonates with diners is a must.

Festive offers

  • Offers are becoming increasingly important in the festive season, with customers continually looking for the best deal. Almost 80% of bookings for Christmas Day tend to be booked with an offer or special menu. An offer doesn’t have to be a price reduction but could be something like a tasting menu, which many venues will feel is more appropriate to their style.

Managing deposits

  • Then there is the potentially contentious issue of deposits. These need to be managed carefully and it’s where tailored online booking systems come into their own.  You can be very specific about who you ask for a deposit; for example this might be dependent on party size, menu and / or date of booking.  The deposit itself will be requested after the booking has been completed, ensuring your booking conversion rates stay high.  Payment can even be deferred to a later date by the party organiser, with automated email reminders pre-set within the system.  And the team has peace of mind that all payments are fully PCI compliant.

Maximising table turns

  • The table management functionality in your reservation system also has an important role to play at Christmas. With demand at a year-round high, there’s a pressing need to pack in the maximum number of diners, while ensuring a smooth service for the kitchen. Not only does this maximise profitability, but it will ensure that both staff and diners have the best possible experience, by smoothing out the peaks in booking times.

Avoiding the post-festive blues

  • However, the best gift of all is the potential to gather important customer data during this busy period. Some of our most canny brands follow up bookings made during the festive period by rewarding bookers with a post-Christmas offer to drive sales in gloomy January, giving them two bites at the cherry. Or should that be cranberry?

Interested in finding out more?

View details of Zonal’s online booking and table management system, liveRES here.

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