Following the excess of celebrations over the Christmas period, the hospitality sector often experiences a slump in January and February, as customers rein in their spending and are more health-minded after a month of indulgence.
But that doesn’t mean people aren’t still looking to head out for a drink or some food. Early in January, Google searches for ‘January restaurant offers’ see a significant spike.
We’ve looked at some of the ways venues can encourage customers into their venues and boost footfall as they kick off 2023.
1. Create memorable customer experience for Christmas visits
Whether it’s a first-time visitor or a regular, creating a great customer experience all the way from point of booking through to waving them goodbye as they leave will all lead towards imprinting a positive memory on that customer. Then you’ll be top of mind when they’re thinking of treating themselves to a drink or meal out in January.
2. Special offers
Customers looking to treat themselves in January will also be looking to save money following higher spending in December. Discounts on meals or a free drink could be enough to win some extra business.
You could hint at these offers or revisit encouragements when customers are visiting you over Christmas, with table cards, POS, or FOH recommendations. Social media is a great way to get the news of any deals out there. 48% of social media users use the platforms to help them decide on which venue to visit*.
3. Use information captured at point of booking to retarget customers
The first restriction-free Christmas since 2019 meant that bookings started early and we saw the comeback of big group occasions, such as office parties.
Although travel and weather put a dampener on the celebrations, savvy venues could use the information from the bookers to invite them along in January to celebrate an occasion then. How about adding in an enticing offer to really make them feel wanted?
4. Make it personal
Although deals are going to really help your venue through the cold start of the year, people don’t necessarily want a blanket deal that’s available to everyone. Treat-minded folk want to be made to feel special, so use the information you’ve got from their booking or when they’ve signed up to your newsletter, and if they’ve opted in for offers and further communications, then reach with an offer that’s too tempting to ignore.
Adding a few of these personalised questions to your data capture forms can help you tailor deals just for them and make them feel special. A few questions you might include are:
- Asking them their favourite drink?
- What their favourite type of celebratory occasion is?
- Birthdays – even if their birthday isn’t in January, you’ve got them on the list to offer a birthday treat when the time comes around!
If you’re going to gather and store information on your customers, just remember that you will have to comply with GDPR laws that cover the use of personal data.
5. Use events to draw people in
With a squeeze on budgets, people will be going out less, but the research tells us they’ll be spending a little more when they are out. Research from PROOF Insight found that 42% of under-45s prefer to spend money on experiences than items.
While the cost-of-living crisis adds some additional strains on the sector, research from PROOF Insight has also found that this and a post-pandemic feeling has actually ignited customers’ desires to have fun and make the most of special occasions.
Make a trip to your venue valuable for customers, with a great customer experience, quality food and drinks, and a welcoming atmosphere. But you could also entice them out with themed events, such as Burns Night, and send them home with new memories.
January events that could bring customers into your venue:
Tap into this month-long trend that sees people cutting back on their meat intake and try the vegan lifestyle for a while. Use your customer data to target vegans who’ve previously visited or use your social media to shout about your vegan menu.
With many customers being more health-minded after Christmas, tap into the Dry January trend with low and no alcohol offerings that will delight.
Traditionally a Scottish celebration of poet Robert Burns’ life, this event has grown in popularity in other parts of the UK. With haggis blessed and Scotch whisky to toast with, creating a Burns Night will be a unique experience for customers that they simply can’t get at home!
January is a tough time for hospitality venues, and inflation isn’t going to help in 2023. But hopefully by planning ahead, delivering exceptional experiences, and getting the word out to customers, you can see the diary fill up for January and into February.