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5 steps for a fantastic festive period

By Nick Telson

- Last updated on GMT

5 steps for a fantastic festive period
DesignMyNight (now part of the Access Group) founder Nick Telson shares his top tips on delivering a positive festive period in your venue.

The Christmas season is a fundamental trading time for the hospitality industry – December results can often make or break a year.

We built Access Collins, a revolutionary reservations and enquiry management system, with managing the stress of Christmas as the starting foundations. If we could develop a system to cope with December, then it could cope with the rest of the year too! Now with clients across the bar, pub and casual dining sector including Wahaca, Mitchells & Butler, Polpo, Young’s, Fullers and Casual Dining Group we have seen Access Collins evolve and be used in many ways to always achieve outstanding results.

Here are my top tips on delivering a positive festive period in your venue.

1 Make it easy to make a booking

The fundamental end-goal of putting more bums on seats is allowing potential customers to browse your website/marketing and make a booking/enquiry easily. Look at your website; how clear and easy is it for a group of 20 to make an enquiry? We ensure that the Access Collins booking widget can capture real-time reservations and enquiries – taking away the need for larger group customers to phone or email.. Also, why not take it a step further and set up a payment and pre-order at the point of booking so a customer for a smaller group can book, select a set menu with allergies and pay, without having to speak to anyone. Making life easier for everyone!

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2 Pre-orders need not be a chore

Traditionally pre-orders are sorted by sending excel documents to your customer. They then hav

e to gather their guests’ pre-orders (often a nightmare in itself!), collate onto a piece of paper sign, scan and send back to you. One of our most popular Access Collins products is the pre-ordering tool, allowing our clients to send their online menu, with allergy filters, to the lead booker, who can digitally distribute this to his/her guests then pay online and submit this back to you. A great user journey shouldn’t stop there…you can then simply print a function sheet for that booking and place cards for the table, guaranteeing a perfect flow from making your pre-order to getting the correct food you ordered. You will be shocked at the impressive re-booking rates if a mobile-forward, online, pre-ordering tool is offered to your guests. 

3 Pro-active conversion driving

The December period is when an organised, pro-active approach is needed to managing your enquiries. It’s not good enough to reply to an enquiry after a few days or reply once and think nothing more. Your team need to set themselves reminders to follow-up with customers and show you really want the booking. Customers will feel like their party is in safe hands if you show a pro-active and driven attitude from the off. Our stats have shown that users of Access Collins see on average a 24% increase in conversion rates due to our advanced enquiry management organisational tools; so it really can make a huge difference to your top line.

"Maximising our key December dates by carefully balancing festive bookings with walk-in trade is vital for a successful Christmas sales period, showing discretion on when to accept pre-booked parties is such an important part of getting it right. When it comes to more traditional online availability-led booking systems, who can say how many high-value reservations are lost when a customer grows frustrated, unable to click on the greyed out time slot, and simply gives up and books elsewhere. Having Access Collins for our larger group bookings allows us to capture all of this interest & then do everything we can to convert it, but at a time of day that benefits our trade patterns. We have great success pushing all those 7.30pm Covent Garden bookings either into earlier slots or to other nearby branches who have quieter walk-in trade." Emily, marketing manager, Wahaca.

4 No shows, no worries

The problem of no shows is never more pertinent than in December, when you could probably have sold a table three times over. Many clients ask if taking a deposit puts customers off from booking with them. Our clients have never seen a drop off, especially on busy times. We recommend our clients to use our card authentication tool, instead of actually taking a deposit. This allows you to secure a table and with a “one-click claim” system where the funds can easily be taken if the customer fails to show up. Also it is a much friendlier way for your customer to secure a booking…after all, if they are definitely looking to arrive then they should never be put off by their card being securely authenticated.

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5 Integration

This is the buzzword around the Industry at the moment. Having your technology solutions speaking to each other can help increase efficiency and cut out human error. At Access Collins we are built on an open API to allow integrations with Epos providers such as Zonal, Access EPOS, Tevalis and more; this allows clients to push payments and bookings to the till directly from Access Collins. This means there is no need for manual data entry onto the till, and during service you could even run your bookings from the till screen. We also integrate with many CRM partners, passing customer and booking data automatically, aiding the “one customer view” vision. At Access Hospitality, we are looking to take it a step further with an integrated business intelligence dashboard allowing our clients to see all the data from their different Access products on one dashboard and a single-log-in portal.

“Having the possibility to integrate Access Collins with other business systems is very important to us. We have integrated the Access Collins Pay functionality with our Zonal POS system, meaning that any payments made via Access Collins will automatically create a deposit record on our POS system. The integration has eliminated a lot of manual data entry work for our teams as well as reduced the risk of mistakes. This is vital when our pubs are busiest with bookings, for example during Christmas, giving them the time and confidence to deliver excellent service to our customers.” Kerstin Hornfeldt, customer experience manager, Fuller’s

December Stats:

Based on all completed bookings made through Access Collins in 2017 (10 million covers):

14% of annual bookings were for December

18% of annual covers booked were for December

The average booking size January - November was 4.8 vs 5.7 in December

Mondays – Wednesdays in December were 53% more booked up than those days January – November

About Access Hospitality

Access Group is one of the top five fastest growing UK software companies, our on-going commitment to excellence, customers and employees has also placed the company among the UK’s top employers.

Access Hospitality is a newly created division catering specifically for the UKs fast expanding £73bn1​turnover hospitality sector. More than 1,300 customers across the UK use our modular, scalable cloud-based business management suite, which features over 20 integrated Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions and services designed specifically for pubs, bars, nightclubs, restaurants, food-to-go and coffee shop operators. DesignMyNight was acquired by The Access Group in November 2017 and forms part of the Access Hospitality Division alongside other best-of-breed hospitality solutions, which cover everything from reservations, ticketing, Epos, HR and staff scheduling to purchase to pay and property maintenance.

To find out more click here​ or call 0845 340 4542

Related topics: Bookings systems

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