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A Guide for SMEs: How to Prepare Your Hospitality Business for Christmas

Estimated Read Time: 6 Minutes

JESSICA LAMBERT , 26 January, 2023

In case you missed it, Christmas is just around the corner. Halloween and Bonfire Night have already flown by and before the year comes to an end, there must first be one last push for businesses in the hospitality industry. As the days draw to an end a lot quicker than they did a mere few months ago, the impending challenge of getting through another festive season grows closer.

For many hospitality businesses, the Christmas season means huge crowds, heavier levels of staffing and a surge in demand for their services. If you manage a hospitality business, you will probably be nodding your head as you read these very words, as the combination of anxiety and excitement start to emerge in the pit of your stomach.

But the Christmas period does not need to be a nauseating mix of the two emotions and with sufficient planning, forward thinking and expertise at hand, the festive season could bring with it an abundance of success – and of course, tills full of cash.

It is a given that your business makes the necessary preparations to handle the influx of customers during the winter months, so don’t be caught off guard simply because your SME failed to plan in advance.

Below we have detailed the considerations your business needs to make ahead of the Christmas holidays. Follow these simple steps to minimise the stress and consequent headaches that tend to linger until the festivities are over.

Have the Right People in Place

Do you know which one factor will make or break your hospitality business during the busiest time of the year? Staffing. You can hire the best chefs in the city, serve the best wine and decorate your hotel suites to the highest standards… but if your front of house staff leave a negative impression, it is the terrible service that your customers will remember and not the deliciously tasty Cabernet-Merlot your business carefully selected. Customer service should be your priority – learn how to deliver excellence here.

Customer facing roles aside, it is important that everyone involved in your business is the right fit for the job. If your business has to hire additional members of staff to meet increased demands during Christmas, ensure that you on-board the new employees with plenty of time to spare. You want every member of staff fully trained so they can deliver the high standards your company seeks to uphold throughout the rest of the year.

From talented chefs working on magical menus behind closed doors, to competent team leaders and thorough cleaners, your SME needs to hire the best if it is to put its best foot forward.

Secondly, you also need to consider staffing levels and accurately predict the level needed for the spike in business activity. Not only is there a substantial rise in demand, but there is also the expected annual leave and of course, sick days that accompany the colder weather to contend with. Temporary workers are the perfect solution to your staffing needs, so instruct an agency that specialises in providing highly trained temporary workers.

Identify Your Unique Selling Proposition

If your hospitality business is to draw in the crowds and make ample amounts of profit this Christmas, it will need to differentiate itself from its competitors. How does your SME ensure it wows its customers enough that they come back or better yet, recommend it to friends and family?

Identify your unique selling proposition (USP) in order to stand out from the crowd. If you struggle to work out why your business differs from its counterparts then how do you expect potential customers to successfully do so?

Having a USP is vital, especially when Christmas swings around, as the hospitality industry is booming with competition and every SME is fighting to get their share of the pie.

Market Your USP With Compelling Christmas Campaigns

Unsurprisingly, once your business has established its USP, it then needs to tell the world about it. Enter marketing… Your USP should be what drives all of your marketing efforts and whether it is online, in print or even word of mouth, your competitive advantage should be at the forefront of every campaign.

You have no doubt fell victim to an expertly created John Lewis Christmas advert over the years, or at the very least know someone who has. They are one of the many leading household brands that have managed to pull off flawless Christmas campaigns that draw potential customers to their products or services.

Compelling Christmas campaigns that go down in history as something particularly memorable are the Holy Grail for marketers and whilst it is unlikely that your business has the same budget to utilise that the world’s biggest brands do, there is a lot that can be learnt from their approach.

Christmas is an extremely emotional time as it is about spreading joy and sharing happiness with your loved ones. So, your Christmas campaigns must, at the very least, do one thing and that is to pull at the heartstrings of your market audience.

The trick with marketing is to capture hearts, minds, clicks and conversions by humanising your brand.

If the Price Is Right…

Where Christmas is involved, buying for friends and family can start to get extremely expensive and so as a result, budgets and careful decision making come into play more at this time of the year. The prices you set during the summer months may be high enough that they put potential customers off when the festive season approaches, so it is crucial that you review the actual cost of providing your services so you can then produce clever pricing strategies that leave enough room for profit.

Competitive pricing and irresistible deals are one of the ways in which you can beat your competitors to the finish line this Christmas – but your loyalty programs are what will ensure they keep coming back. We wrote an article previously on the secret behind building real customer loyalty – if you find that your SME struggles to retain its customer base, it is well worth a read.

Time Is of The Essence

In the midst of the festive period, businesses tend to extend their opening hours to truly capitalise on the generosity of customers and their eagerness to socialise outside the home. Christmas shopping in the evenings brings with it a sense of nostalgia and excitement, so keeping your doors open during those chilly evenings will benefit your business as they will no doubt work up an appetite.

Make the experience memorable too, so that your customers keep coming back. To combat longer waiting times, a great audience pleaser is to provide drink and nibbles for your happy customers. Playing Christmas music will instantly get your customers in a festive mood and that is a mindset that usually equates to more spending.

For more SME advice and tips, read our related posts below. If you are experiencing cash flow challenges or want to realise your business growth plans, get in touch with our team of Funding Specialists today on 020 7839 9451 or email [email protected].





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