Colder nights naturally make people want to get cosy and snug. But this doesn’t have to be tucked away at home!
Last year, COVID restrictions forced many festive celebrations to be cancelled, disappointing consumers and hugely impacting the hospitality sector.
But it’s not all doom and gloom for the industry. 74% of consumers have returned to the on-trade since restrictions lifted in April* and 52% of all visits were to pubs and bars.
We’re pleased to see the season of festivities for Christmas 2021 has already begun. But how do we make the most of the long, cold nights that stretch from Bonfire Night to Christmas Eve? We’ve put together some ways operators can entice consumers out from their homes and into the comforting arms of their venue for a cosy night out, throughout the season.
Experiences are key
COVID-19 has caused many consumers to reassess their priorities in life, with two-thirds agreeing it’s made them realise they need to embrace the moment. So, when it comes to eating and drinking out, the experience matters just as much as the food on the plate or the drink in their glass. Here are a couple of ideas for creating immersive experiences in venue.
Creating Seasonal Spaces
We know that Summer is a superb time for operators to capitalise on their outside space - consumers tend to be more eager to drink and dine al fresco on those long, sizzling summer nights.
But “Winterising” these outdoor spaces can also prove valuable. This year, we’re seeing more winter gardens, heated roof terraces, and igloos that offer memorable and unique experiences. While a full revamp like this might be too pricey for most venues, simply checking your heaters and offering a big basket of blankets alongside some seasonal, warming tipples can create that cosy, winter atmosphere. Bonus points for candles, fires, and faux fur rugs!
The key is to focus on experiences that make the most of your space and are appropriate for your customer base. Getting the basics right – with quality products, atmosphere, and serve presentation makes a significant difference when it comes to drawing customers in from the cold.
Warming Festive Serves
More than ever, customers are seeking drinks that create a celebratory mood*. Some seasonal serves and festive twists on the classics can achieve this. Gin, cocktails, and hot drinks see the biggest uplift over the festive period, so think about adding some red berries to your G&Ts, creamy cocktails to your menu and, of course, having some mulled wine or cider ready to go.
For something different from the classic mulled cider, try using a fruit version such as Magners Dark Fruit. The sub-category remains popular with guests and a festive cup of rich, warming blackcurrants and blackberries is sure to be a hit.
For a rich full-bodied winter red, we love this Santa Rita Merlot. It is perfect to warm the cockles on those chilly days, whether or not it’s served mulled!
The lead up to Christmas is usually a time for trading up, and the signals are that this has not changed. 33% of consumers say that it is more important than ever that their drinks are high quality and represent good value*.
For a premium rum, Havana Club Añejo Especial is perfect – a golden rum aged for up to 5 years in the cellars, delivering a round and persistent finish. Even the name will add to the celebratory feel on a night out, with Añejo Especial translating to ‘special vintage’ in English.
Finally, we’d not be talking about cosy nights out or premium drinks unless we mentioned a Scotch whisky. Talisker’s 10-year-old single malt whisky is best served neat to capture its warm subtle smokiness. We envision it being drunk best by a warm fire, or in a toasty igloo with a view… it’s all about that experience!
Venues that can go that bit further and provide customers with some unique experiences they can’t get anywhere are sure to see success this festive period. It continues to be likely that young customers, between 18 – 34-years-old, will drive trade this Christmas – of which 37% say the atmosphere and ambience of a venue will be key in swaying their decision**. Set your customers up for those cosy nights out, accompanied by some equally cosy and festive drinks!
*CGA Strategy’s report on GB Pubs & Bars October 2021
**PROOF Insight Analysis and POURTRAIT Panel