We all know that most holidays produce strong restaurant sales. According to Bizfluent research the winter holiday season is typically the second busiest time of the year (after the warm weather/vacation season) because restaurant guests tend to travel, celebrate with friends and family and look for social opportunities to dine out. According to Dave Bennet with Mirus Restaurant Solutions, all the holidays during the pandemic have produced spikes in restaurant traffic starting with Easter and steadily increasing to peak on Labor Day. Now we are adding the current spike in the COVID-19 Pandemic to the mix at the height of holiday celebrations.
What should restaurants expect from the 2020 holiday season and what can they do to capitalize on every available opportunity to increase holiday sales?
To answer these questions, we commissioned a 10-question online survey and garnered approximately 500 respondents. I won’t bore you with the detailed results (although I’m happy to send them to anyone who asks), but I will give you a summary of the answers to the key questions we identified. Here are the highlights:
We’ve received many horror stories about customers making the decision to dine-out because they long for the social experience, only to end-up with a terrible ordeal because the restaurant is so focused on its’ off-premise business.
If you don’t have the staff and the systems to successfully handle both, close the restaurant for dine-in business and put everything into your off-premise operations. No restaurant today can afford to give a guest less than remarkable dine-in experience, even with restrictions.
To quote the old rubric “You may not have it all together, but together you can have it all.” Do everything you can, from adding limited time offers to highlighting your remarkable side dishes, so that customers crave and rave about something from your restaurant on their holiday table. It doesn’t have to be the whole meal, but if you can find a way to be part of your clients’ new holiday traditions, you set your restaurant up for strong sales and an enhanced reputation as we move into 2021 and out of this terrible pandemic.