Home Insights & Advice How the food and beverages industry can plan for a post-pandemic Christmas

How the food and beverages industry can plan for a post-pandemic Christmas

by John Saunders
2nd Dec 21 3:12 pm

Christmas is just a few short weeks away now. Shops are full of dancing Santas and blooming poinsettias, our TV screens are showing us a cornucopia of festive adverts and more than one household has already cracked open the tub of chocolates that were optimistically ’bought for Christmas’, back in October. Food and beverage hospitality businesses will be in full festive planning mode by now, with bookings opened, themes decided and decorations planned.

However, a post-pandemic Christmas is not going to be the same as those festive offerings of yore. COVID-19 has changed the way that many people spend their time and money and the growing number of infections in Europe are an ever-present warning that there is still a long way to go before we can declare the UK coronavirus-free. Food and beverages business management must encompass pandemic planning to help keep the company afloat over the festive season.

So, how to do that? Engaging a hospitality consultancy is one way, which can provide valuable third-party ideas, input and experience. Here, too are some more areas to consider for the 2021/22 Christmas and New Year food and beverages hospitality season.

Where the customers are

While signs are looking cautiously optimistic that Christmas 2021 will not be quite so curtailed as it was last year, people are still feeling reluctant to plan too far in advance. So, while Christmas orders may be coming into a café or restaurant, it could be worthwhile making additional plans to maximise customer contact as much as possible. Ideas include offering take-away deliver services for festive meals, snacks and drinks. Or putting together Christmas dinners for people to collect and heat up at home. Another option could be assembling Christmas hampers, full of delicious treats to give to loved ones at home. All good opportunities for getting that all-important branding under people’s noses while they are relaxing with family and friends.

Safety first

People are, understandably, still very keen to protect themselves against the risk of COVID-19 and other viruses. This is despite good uptake of the booster vaccines. So, make safety a key part of your festive marketing campaign. Be more vocal about hand sanitisers, socially distanced table plans, contact tracing and remote ordering processes. Make your location as enticing as possible with beautiful Christmas decorations that do not get in the way of people moving around the tables and chairs. A little planning will result in the perfect combination of festive splendour and a reassuring ‘safety first’ approach to food and beverages business management.

Creative space

Another way to attract people to your venue over Christmas is to think outside the proverbial box when it comes to using the space that you have. After more than a year of restricted entertainment options, many people will be especially willing to try out new things. So, install outdoor fire pits or heaters for al fresco dining despite the cold, add some festive art works for people to admire while the dine. Set aside an area for children to do some festive arts and crafts like colouring or making a Christmas card. Or create the perfect winter grotto with fairy lights, real log fire and carols playing softly over the sound system. Think of ways to make your restaurant, café or bar stand out from the rest over the Christmas and New Year season.

Give a little back

Christmas has always been a time for thinking of others, and this year should be no exception. So, make it easy for your customers to donate to charity. Place a food bank donations box in the entrance, or invite people to bring a wrapped gift with them to give to a local child who would otherwise see very little under their tree. Initiatives like this can also generate good press publicity for the business for very little financial outlay. Another idea for cafes that warms people hearts at any time of year is a ‘pay it forward’ board. Customers can pay for a hot drink or snack, the details of which are written on post-it notes and added to a board. Someone who cannot afford to buy their own takes the note and enjoys the generous gift, perhaps returning when finances are better to pay the favour forward.

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