How hospitality businesses can bridge the revenue gap during recovery

So, we’re going to talk about THE instagram post. You know the one, Tom Kerridge’s post addressed to no show restaurant customers. In the post he warns individuals that no-shows can potentially be putting peoples jobs more at risk, as hospitality businesses continue the road to recovery. Albeit a little less politely. 

Now, the Text Marketer family are lucky enough to service hundreds of hospitality businesses and well, we have to know… Tom did you send diners an SMS reminder prior to their booking? We mean no disrespect, but honestly, they work wonders! In all seriousness though, the pandemic has had a huge impact. Even now that hospitality businesses are open, due to the guidelines around capacity restrictions, social distancing among customers and staff and PPE requirements, there has been a significant impact on revenue. 

The government has announced a VAT tax cut – from 20% to 5% – on eat-in or hot takeaway food from restaurants, cafes and pubs, and the ‘Eat out to help out’ scheme will be introduced in August. But our advice to Tom, and businesses within hospitality is quite simple. Utilise the humble SMS. There are many creative ways to bridge the revenue gap during recovery but none of them will work without effective communication between your business and customers. Since we are fortunate enough to have seen many successful bulk SMS and SMS Web page campaigns over the last couple of weeks, we thought we’d share some ideas proving valuable for hospitality businesses now.

Continue with take-away services

It’s a no brainer right?! Some individuals might not feel 100% comfortable returning to your restaurant or cafe just yet, and it’s a fantastic opportunity to facilitate more customers without breaking capacity restrictions. Moreover, you can increase brand awareness by introducing branded packaging and if we’re being completely honest, we’ve become quite accustomed to a take-away afternoon tea. 

Top Tip #1: With a simple SMS Web page campaign, you can market your take-away service to customers visually, and include an enticing photo of one of your menu dishes.

Increase delivery options

Introducing multiple delivery and collection options is proving very popular with customers. Branching out from deliveroo to include delivery options via local taxi firms, curbside pick-ups and even implementing delivery services of your own, has been successful among businesses. Ultimately for these services to add-value, they need to be convenient for as many customers as possible. Furthermore, by utilising the humble SMS to support safe deliveries, you can guarantee deliveries will not be left going cold on anyone’s door step. 

Booking reminders

Tom, this one’s for you. And no, this isn’t strictly a campaign idea. But it is worth repeating, especially in the current climate. To maintain social distancing and reduced capacity, for each booking, customers are given a set window for service. As such, it’s more important than ever before that customers arrive on time and are able to make the most of their 90 – 120 minutes. A simple SMS reminder can ensure customers are able to make the most of their booking or alternatively, if their plans have changed, prompt them to cancel their booking in advance, so businesses can amend staff rosters as appropriate. 

Introduce meal kits

As an extension to take-away services, introducing meal kits allows individuals to purchase chilled or even frozen versions of their favourite meals, to cook at home. This option enables businesses to handle more trade, as they can prepare orders in advance and give customers an appropriate collection timeframe. 

Top Tip #2: 160 characters can go much further than you think. So get creative. An SMS campaign introducing or reacquainting customers with your online ordering system, for take-away or meal kits, could prove really valuable.

Boost gift card sales

After more than 100 days in lockdown (yes, it’s really been that long), vouchers may prove to be the perfect pick me up gift for individual’s friends or family members. What’s more, encouraging voucher sales is a great way for businesses to increase revenue in the current climate, and offers customers another opportunity to support their favourite independent businesses.

Reward customer loyalty

Customer retention is key to business success. Afterall, you are far more likely to sell to an existing customer, than a new one. Perhaps now, more so than ever it’s important to show your customers just how much you value them. Businesses can achieve this in a number of ways. To name just a few, thank customers for their patience and support, continue with customer loyalty schemes and offer discounts on repeat bookings or purchases. Making sure your business remains top of mind, for the right reasons as trade returns to normal, will be key to ensuring business survival and success over the coming months. 

Ask for feedback

For many businesses, these new offerings will be exactly that, new. To understand how these are being received by your customers and identify any areas for improvement, it makes sense to ask them. This could be particularly useful if you have opened with a limited menu, and want to know which items to add.

Top Tip #3: SMS surveys are a great way to get feedback from customers. The conversion rate is much higher than that of email, and answering text messages is far more convenient for customers as well. Meaning businesses can base decisions on the answers from far more customer responses. 

If you need any help getting your business campaigns ready, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our friendly team at info@textmarketer.co.uk, they’ll be happy to help.

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