Christmas in the year of COVID – a few ideas for hospitality businesses

Megan Lipscombe

Megan Lipscombe

Head of Marketing

It’s well known that Christmas is traditionally the busiest time of the year for pubs, bars and restaurants. But with December just two months away it’s looking more and more like Christmas 2020 is going to be very different to what we’re used to. Giving us no choice but to adapt, we’ve put together a few suggestions for hospitality businesses on how to make the most of this challenging but unique situation.

All I want for Christmas is… a table for 12 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦👨‍👩‍👧‍👦👨‍👩‍👧‍👦

Christmas has always been the time for those big office parties, family gatherings and meeting up with old friends. The introduction of ‘the rule of six’ has put a pin in this for the most part, but that doesn’t mean the desire for larger gatherings isn’t there. Consider ways you can encourage customers to get together at your pub, bar or restaurant when they are able to do so again. For groups of more than six, think about offering vouchers for group bookings with an expiration date of ‘when we can meet again’. This way you can boost cash flow in December as well as guaranteeing bookings for 2021.  

Oh I wish it could be Christmas… in October 🎄

Is it ever too early for Christmas? With pubs, bars and restaurants having to run with limited capacity and reduced opening hours, why not consider getting festive a little earlier this year. The ‘rule of six’ is looking likely to run into the new year and social distancing measures here to stay for the foreseeable; meaning hospitality businesses are physically unable to take on the number of Christmas bookings they were able to last year. By offering your Christmas menu sooner and adding a little festive cheer in the way of decorations, you can make sure your customers have plenty of time to book and aren’t missing out on celebrating Christmas with their groups of six. 

Santa baby, please deliver my Christmas dinner to me 🎅🏼

Ever considered a takeaway Christmas dinner? Take inspiration from Pizza Pilgrims ‘frying pan pizzas’ and Patty & Bun’s ‘Lockdown DIY kits’ and consider packaging up your quality restaurant meals for customers to cook at home. Whether it’s a delivery service or click and collect, if you have the capacity to do so, give your customers a chance to have your Christmas specials from the comfort of their own home. 

Christmas time, don’t forget about online 💻

Invest in marketing and reach out to those customers staying home, via social media. They may not be able to join you for Christmas, but running something they can get involved with from home, such as a social media competition, will help you stay front of mind. Think about prize draws that offer a chance to win a meal for 2 in the new year or 50% off your bill when you dine with us before March 2021. Or keep it simple and just make sure you’re posting regular photos and updates in order to ramp up that food envy.

Ok we’re done with the naff Christmas carol inspired headings now, but just one more thing… 

Celebrate the people making all of this happen 🎉

You may not be able to throw an ‘in person’ Christmas party for your team this year but have you considered throwing a virtual Christmas party? We know it’s not quite the same. But if you’re up for trying something a little different – Venue Search have got you covered in terms of ideas with their recent blog on ‘virtual Christmas parties’.

That’s all for now…

Of course not all of these suggestions will be feasible for every business, it’ll depend on your business model, location and clientele. But take on what you can in order to make the most of a difficult situation. 2020 has arguably been the most challenging ever for hospitality businesses so we hope this blog helps you make the most of what’s left of it. Here’s hoping 2021 gives us all a bit of an easier ride.  

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