Sponsored post in partnership with Diageo.
Christmas is typically one of the busiest times of the year in the on-trade, however, this year will be a little different. Hopefully, by December, the country will be in a more stable position, granting pubs and bars the opportunity to make Christmas and New Year special.
So how can you adapt your venue to still create memorable experiences while adhering to restrictions?
Firstly, the safety of the guests is always the top priority and adapting to the new situation is key. Consumers are still cautious about visiting on-trade outlets, with 3 in 4 consumers concerned about their health1. Therefore, outlets need to ensure they not only adhere to regulations but communicate these to consumers in order to reassure them and make them feel comfortable and safe. These can be communicated ahead of and during the festive season via digital methods as well as outside the outlet to maximise potential footfall as and when it is safe to do so.
Pre-booking is now becoming a key part of the consumer journey to outlet and will continue for Christmas, with 47% of consumers planning to prebook at least some of their visits2. To effectively connect with customers, outlets should announce their Christmas season availability in advance and make consumers aware they are now taking reservations for that period both in venue and via their digital channels such as a website. Outlets can also reach out to their local consumer base via social media and use digital assets. Over 1 in 4 consumers have already prebooked drinks with their1, so outlets not already doing this could offer this service to drive their sales, manage stock levels and create a seamless visit.
Experience is key in the on-trade and this is increasingly important during the festive season. Consumers are looking for seasonal serves with over half stating that they like to see these in December3 because this can help make their festive celebrations seem extra special. In fact, gin, cocktails and hot serves see the biggest uplift over the festive period so making sure you have seasonal twists on these will be key for the festive trade, and will ensure your guests have something new and exciting to try3. It doesn’t need to be a big change to the menu to incorporate some festivity; for gin it can be as simple as using festive flavours such as sloe, for cocktails adding a simple festive twist and for hot serves it could be as straightforward as a classic Baileys with hot chocolate or coffee.
Premiumisation is also important over the festive period, as one third of consumers are more likely to premiumise their drink compared to any other time of the year3. Last year Gin and Rum were the spirits categories that saw the biggest uplifts for premium products so therefore, you should ensure that your venue has a good range of premium Gin and Rum brands to tap into this opportunity and increase sales3. In wine, sparkling wine and champagne saw uplifts, significantly higher than the average month as consumers opted for something more special, so venues should also ensure they are stocking relevant sparkling wine and champagne options3, ensuring to create an experience consumers can’t find elsewhere.
In order to adapt this year, outlets need to make sure firstly and most importantly that they have the right safety measures in place, are set up for prebooking whilst communicating these ahead of the season and enhancing the consumer experience through festive serves and premium offerings.