Navigating Lockdown 2.0 is hitting the UK and Europe hard; is your hospitality business ready?

Our 5 point plan can help

The time that we all dreaded is upon us where whole or parts of countries are going into lockdown, again.  Regardless of how well you fared the first time around, you can still drive revenue with the right strategy in place.  We have put together the best tips that we learned including those from our colleagues in Australia who have successfully navigated the easing of restrictions and the beginning of the resurrection of their hospitality businesses.

Customers are the lifeblood of your business and the key is to keep them engaged, regardless of whether your business is open for trade.  Connect with them across all of your platforms: email, SMS and socials.  Keep your messages authentic, use images of your business, staff and food to remind them why they love what you do and to help stay top of mind.

There is a lot to think about, so we have curated our top tips to stay connected with your customers to give your business the best chance of navigating the lockdown and beyond:

  1. Connect all your customer data
    If like many hospitality businesses you have data locked away in your loyalty program, Guest WiFi, restaurant or accommodation booking platform, now is the time to extract it and add it to your email platform. 

Some other places to think about where customer contacts might be stored include; sign up forms on your website, function bookings and online orders. If you used a tool like to collect customers for track and trace, you might find a number have opted in for marketing. Learn how to connect your TalkBox and VisitSafe Accounts here. 

Now is the time to gather all these customers into your digital marketing platform so you can start talking to customers.

  1. Let customers know whether you are open in any capacity.  If you are completely closed let them know via email or SMS and make sure you place a notice on your website.  You might also update your Google listing.  Remember customers are going to be staying close to home so if you know your locals from your visitors then give them priority in your communications.  

    If you have decided to add online delivery or take away options but didn’t last time then that’s a critical message to get out. You might want to consider a weekly message to let customers know of your specials.

    Even if your business is only taking orders from one of the aggregators like Uber Eats, then you still want your customers to know where to find you.
  1. Generating business in lockdown.
    One of the most successful pivots we saw in Australia was that went from a start-up selling at home packs to selling $1.5m of pre-packaged meals from some of Melbourne’s top 50 restaurants each week.

    Some other ideas include selling gift vouchers (consider adding value eg $120 face value for only $100), selling your sauces or jams that you make for the business as add ons to take away meals or as gifts in hampers, 

    If you are famous for your wine list why not create food and wine pairing dinners that can be pre-purchased and even include a link to a video where your sommelier explains the pairings.

    If you or other local businesses are doing delivery, why not join forces and create an experience that showcases a few businesses in your suburb eg dinner from the local restaurant, wine from the off-license, chocolates or dessert from another cafe and even a few books from the local book store.  These packs could also work as great Christmas gifts.
  2. Staying in touch with your customers is perhaps even more important if you are not trading at all.  Some great ways to do this include:
  • Telling your story – how did you decide on the name, develop the famous burger that everyone loves etc.  Old photos of your business will help bring this to life
  • Profile your team – talk about their passions, favourite coffee or cocktail and why they got into hospitality
  • Showcase your suppliers – are you famous for plant-based ingredients or locally sourced product?  Customers love to know the origin of their food
  • Create at-home recipes for some of your dishes 
  • Ask for reviews.  Not only will this help you create new content for your website and socials, but it can also improve rankings on search and more importantly it can help remind your customers why they love coming to your business.

5. Build your reopening plan. Most hospitality business owners are time poor.  Use this time to look at your business from top to bottom and really analyse what’s working and what needs improvement. This journey can also be communicated to customers; let them know about new menu items you are creating, get them to vote to keep favourites on the menu and changes you are making to the layout or renovations you are planning.  

As your business moves closer to re-opening, let customers know how you are preparing. Setting expectations around how you will manage capacity, showing off the theatre of your COVID clean and letting customers know of changes are critical to providing reassurance and safety about coming back on premise.

Experience has shown that businesses who stayed connected to their customers during crisis bounceback faster and stronger.  It takes considerably more time, effort and resources to attract a new customer than to stay in touch with your current ones. Consider your customer database a key asset for your business, give it attention and respect now and let it help your business now and when things return to normal.

Impact Data are here to help. Talk to us today about how we can help you connect with your customers and drive business.