Customer loyalty and repeat visits in the post-Covid era.
There have been many times over the last 12 months when hoping for a first visit (let alone the next) to a bar, restaurant, pub, or café has been fraught with anticipation, mixed with hope, and then peril!
We’re ever the optimists here at Bums on Seats and love challenging the status quo. If there is an opportunity, we will drag it to the surface kicking and screaming for all to see and take full advantage of, which many are now planning. However, under lockdown, these opportunities were (admittedly) far and few between. So, witness my delight and euphoria at receiving a re-opening roadmap, even one that seemed so distant I am sure we all doubted its authenticity. But yes! It appears to be happening at last, and with that belief, our beautiful paying public is already booking their favourite venues as far ahead as December! Many of our clients, and our ‘Bums Best Of’ supply networks including Collins / Design My Night, AND Our Bums Partners’ Zonal, are all reporting an increase in pre-booked covers of up 1085% in the last 4 weeks.
We now know that the hospitality bounce back is real!
This leads me nicely onto the Bums on Seats latest industry wide campaign; ‘Next Visit Please’ (I am hoping some of you saw our ‘Take Out to Help Out’ plea in January).
Firstly, let me take you back to 2020 to set the scene (No! I hear you scream – please not that!). Bear with me because it’s imperative that we revisit the lessons to be learned and which are still relevant for 2021.
When venues were allowed to open last year (remember that?) the focus for 2020 was customer safety, first and foremost. Did you know that our sector had to manage over 50 separate changes last year? Now I love change, but that’s one step too far for anyone! We know operators needed to embrace change and grow business resilience to survive, but the pace of change meant that management teams had to prioritise safety sometimes at the expense of good old-fashioned customer service. The focus for 2021 now can – and must – change back again to putting ‘bums on seats’ and beating the competition by creating a unique reason to visit which is memorable, and which will – in-turn – inspire multiple return visits.
You will need to be a destination: Hence, our next campaign
‘Next Visit Please’.
Good old-fashioned hospitality, pre-booked sales and guest experience is back! And of course, if you ask me, they should never have gone away.
Our creative insight agency partners KAM Media allow Bums on Seats to use data and ‘intelligent’ customer insights to enable us to base our recommendations on fact and not feeling, which is a little mantra of ours now.
In a recent survey of UK adults 34% said they would return in April for outside dining/drinking and a further 26% will in May. So, as I am pretty good at maths, I know that’s 60% of customers who are seeking to return by May. The negative aspect to this finding of course is the 40% who are still not venturing out. The challenge will be to make up for lost footfall from tourism and business premises at least in the short term, but let’s be realistic: working from home is here to stay as a continuing flexible option. This could begin to appear rather depressing, even allowing for the fact that residential, local and rural pubs/restaurants won’t have as many challenges as city centers.
Nonetheless, the challenge remains: we must all have a unique reason to visit, a visit that’s memorable so that each unique brand and venue is a desirable destination to guarantee the Next Visit Please.
So, let’s get down and dirty to HOW you can gain that
‘Next Visit Please’!
Lets’ start with the 9 steps of your customer booking journey. Invest in tech and work with the right partners for your operation:
- Website: clear design and visuals of packages with optional bolt-on extras.
- Bookings: a booking system that’s optimised for maximum efficiency. The right booking system will facilitate a seamless and automated journey. Use packages, up-sells, and card verification on bookings to gain financial commitment at peak times.
- Pre-arrival: actionable SMS and email reminders are easy ways to cancel to minimise no-shows.
- Arrival: checking in, marking no shows. WIFI solutions to capture customer data e.g. Wireless Social.
- Order & Pay: ability to order and pay at the table, multiple orders, running totals. Feeds into EPOS e.g. Zonal.
- Feedback: follow-ups and incentives to review visit e.g. Feed it Back and Yumpingo.
- CRM: all customer interaction to feed into the CRM. Use this data to drive repeat visits and customer retention e.g. Airship.
- Loyalty: gift cards, the hierarchy of guests based on visits/spends, gift experiences e.g. Toggle.
- Re-book incentives: Use data from CRM and WIFI to drive repeat visits and create personalises offers or highlight dynamic pricing options to drive off-peak trade.
You will be able to exploit and accelerate many opportunities for sales if you focus on the steps outlined above, including:
- The Birthday celebration.
- The ‘missed’ milestone occasion.
- The micro wedding.
- Summer socials of all shapes and sizes.
- Christmas and New Year – get these ready for May! Go on…
- Family meetups.
- Brunch – do it better.
- Friend’s socials.
- Office socials.
- Work clubs for those who want to escape daytime working from home.
- Corporate meetings.
- The Euros and sport.
Create unique experience-based packages that are matched to key trends and calendar opportunities this year. This will drive the reason to visit and increase pre-booking by offering the right packages to increase pre-orders and reduce no-shows.
Provide a memorable and unique experience that matches the customer’s wants and needs to drive your customer retention and provide a return on Investment!
Next Visit Please
We’ve teamed up with Zonal, Wireless Social, Airship, KAM Media, and Yumpingo to give operators the tools to build customer loyalty and secure that ‘Next Visit Please!’
Launching on 7th June, we’ve got a series of 30-minute webinars, plus a supporting E-book that will offer clear, deliverable actions to make sure guests stay loyal to your brand and return again and again!
Find out more & sign up here!
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.