Love it or hate it, Valentines is a big deal for the trade. PricewaterhouseCoopers predicts brits could spend half a billion pounds splashing out on loved ones in the lead-up and on the 14th of February. The total spend for the occasion is set to continue its upward trend this year, with WorldPay figures suggesting the occasion is worth 50% more to a restaurant's takings versus an equivalent evening at this time of year.
With millions of pounds up for grabs and that PwC study suggesting more of us would prefer a gift related to a travel or leisure activity than ever before, it could be a bumper few weeks for the on-trade. With that in mind, we’ve put together a few pieces of advice to make the most of Valentine’s Day in your outlet.
First up, getting the right products. We expect to see the continued growth in popularity of “pink” gins. Served in a big glass, packed with ice, fresh fruit and topped with tonic pr lemonade for a thirst quenching serve, perfect for the occasion. You could skip the traditional bunch of roses for something much better, Eden Mill Love Gin. It actually contains rose petals alongside an outstanding blend of local botanicals and exotic fruits. On the nose, the fragrant and floral rose petals flourish, underpinned with sweet berry notes. This gin can be enjoyed served with Prosecco, the carbonation carrying through the rose petal aromas.
Valentines is a celebratory occasion, and all celebratory occasions deserve one thing in particular. Champagne. The occasion gives us all an excuse to impart the virtues of Rosé Champagne. Laurent Perrier Rosé, Taittinger Rosé and Moët & Chandon Rosé are all excellent choices. Not only does stocking different styles of Champagne such as Rosé allow you to meet the needs of all your customers, it offers a point of difference on a list of sparkling wines.
"Valentines is a celebratory occasion, and all celebratory occasions deserve one thing in particular. Champagne"By Matthew Clark
Being treated to a glass of Champagne is not, unfortunately for most of us, a common occurrence. Consumers will often go for it when offered on a celebratory occasion but they can’t order what isn’t there. Offer your Champagne by the glass as well as the bottle, its margin making for you, and easier on the pocket for them.
Whichever drinks you decide to serve, utilise the core elements of good visual merchandising to promote them to your guests. Make the most of your hotspots, these are areas on or around your bar where customers gravitate towards and their eyes are naturally drawn to. You can find out where these are by walking to your bar yourself and noting where you glance. High-level space above the bar and on the back bar can also be used to advertise finished drinks or new products as people scan the bar area while waiting.
If you run a promotion ensure you shout about it! Blackboards, menu hangers, tent cards and screens are great ways to promote your drinks offers. Make sure to include pricing on displays, this should not lead the communication but will ensure that customers are not put off by the unknown.
Whatever the drink, make sure it’s the perfect serve and where possible add theatre, by way of gorgeous stemware and ice buckets. Pour the bottle of champagne in front of them, or carry from bar to table through the venue on a tray, making everyone else want one.
A great idea for occasions such as Valentines is to create a separate focused menu that features a range of simple mixed drinks, cocktails, premium spirits and sparkling wines. Handing a customer this focused menu when seated or at the bar immediately turns there attention to choosing one of these drinks (drinks that should be ones that make you more margin) than considering a draught beer or house wine. Remember, the vast majority of consumers have not chosen their drink by the time they reach your bar or take their seat.
Considering that most consumers are looking for some guidance with drink choices, if you don’t do so already, consider briefing your staff on up-selling to your profitable Valentines serves. Up-selling is simply providing your customer with the opportunity to choose something that provides them with a better experience and you with a higher margin. The easiest up-sell opportunities come from simple questioning, for example, ‘shall I get you a bottle of Champagne?’ or particularly at Valentines, using bolt-ons to generate incremental purchases. A good bolt-on for Valentine’s Day could be offering a glass of dessert wine or Espresso Martini with your indulgent chocolate pudding.
POS is one of the best ways to promote any promotions you have running. Often, it’s men making the reservations so perhaps try and save them time and money by creating a package, for example ‘two courses and a glass of Champagne will cost £X’. This gives a reassurance about the total cost, encouraging bookings and makes it easier for your staff to make up-sells on the evening itself.