There is one significant opportunity for all hospitality operators – large or small – without which venues will struggle to compete in the post Covid world: attracting and securing a customer’s pre- booked table. Get this right, and customers will become loyal visitors time and again.
All the evidence shows us that the culture of pre-booking is here to stay, and there are enormous benefits for both customer and operator.
Customers are now sold on the advantages of pre-booking, allowing them to overcome any fears around the safety and well-being of their group, securing a table when it suits them most, and feeling good about their interaction with you – their host. From initial enquiry right through to the actual experience, pre-booking sets the tone for the customer’s whole visit, giving you – the operator – one of the most practical and significant opportunities to sell your unique offering or brand.
For operators, pre-booking is win win!
Efficiency savings associated with your labour costs and outgoings; better financial forecasting; improved planning and delivery of your products; substantially improved communication with your customers, and the opportunity to drive a higher spend by selling packages in advance (to name just a few of the many benefits!). The days of setting aside tables for coach parties and walk-ins are both inefficient and old hat. Profits are secured by creating a sales culture that is customer centric, and aligned to bookings in advance, creating the opportunity to put your venue ahead of the competition and make your mark in the locality.
To secure more bums on seats by capitalising on existing or new pre-booked business, we at Bums on Seats analyse 3 key areas:
Systems: A booking system that’s optimised for maximum efficiency and capacity. The right booking system will facilitate a seamless and automated journey.
Process: Do all the processes work in harmony with the systems? Are all ‘touch points’ of the customer journey and communications working effectively? What is the quality of that customer response?
Sales: What are their reasons to visit? What are YOUR sales opportunities? Do you have the right product and offering, and what are you selling to your local community vs. a destination market.
Here are our top tips for operators to drive organic growth via pre-booking:
- Re-purpose space and rooms. Ensure all bookable space is utilised. Capacity management at group and site level is vital.
- Implement immediate customer response time and open and honest communications. Promote ongoing contact and forward planning for experiences and options throughout the year.
- Maximise upselling through dynamic pricing. Aim to increase spend per head and minimise no-shows through packages and experiences.
- Faster table turning and shoulder times where possible should be managed through your booking system. Selling pre-ordered packages with clear and transparent terms and conditions is vital.
- Retain that all important guest experience through good old fashioned hospitality for that next visit. Follow up with the right technology partner for repeat visits.
- You can reduce no shows through SMS reminder text messaging. Ask for £5pp deposits at peak tables for groups 4+. Sell experiences and always secure deposits or card authentication. If you can, deliver ‘day before’ phone calls to customers to confirm bookings and show how approachable and professional you are.
- 70% of the ideal pre-booked sales process is still down to your relationship with your customer, and Covid has made (most of) us all that little bit more human. Focus on customer profiling as opposed to blanket communication. Use your customer journey tech “touch points” to identify your segments. And re-set the importance of the relationship and customer experience with your ops teams to sit alongside the safety measures.
- Implement a sales report each week to track bookings vs. capacity, putting you firmly in control of your decision making and showing what works.
You cannot afford to ignore this vital area of activity.
Go for it: put pre-booked sales at the forefront of your future activity and sales culture.
To find out more about how Bums on Seats can support your sales function head to our website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Amber Staynings
Amber is the CEO & Founder of Bums on Seats. Having worked in the hospitality industry for over 20 years and her influence is felt across the sector.