Preparing Early for the Holiday Season

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Every year we seem to leap more rapidly from ghosts and goblins to turkeys to tinsel.

Now is the perfect time (before you start basting and shopping) to pull your plan together for the best holiday season ever.

I just read an article about how nostalgia has a calming effect on the human brain. So, wind back your marketing strategy for the holidays to a simpler time when people just wanted to be joyful with their friends and families. We’re not suggesting that you replace your POS system with a cardboard box or unplug your lights, but let’s just think about some of the basic old-fashioned principles of service, sales, and celebration.

Know (and Gift) Your Customers

In the favorite holiday movie, George Bailey (one of the most loved movie characters of all time) becomes the hero of his community. He is a true friend and caretaker. Do you know your best customers and care for them throughout the holiday season?

You can use the power of email marketing, social media or the old-fashioned telephone to reach out to patrons and tell them about your holiday specials, and offer to host their office or family parties. Stay close to your fans all year long, but especially during the stressful holiday weeks. November is all about gratitude, after all!

When loyal customers visit your bar or club, offer them a free drink for the holidays. Whether or not they come back to redeem it, they’ll remember your kindness and care.

Welcome Strangers to Your Table

Reach out to local chambers of commerce and business groups (either live or via social media) and let them know your venue is available for group celebrations. Invite the head of the organization in for a meal or drink to sample your menu and service experience. Even if they don’t choose your location this season, you’ll have started the relationship-building process.

Respect Your “Elves”

Holiday season is a stressful time for your employees too. They may want to take time for shopping or spend precious moments with their friends and family. To the extent possible, create shift schedules that enable them to take some free time.

You may not always feel jolly, but a great coach leads by example. Bring peace and cheer to your team meetings and reward the people who put in extra time and effort. Money isn’t the only reward: a few hours off or recognition in front of their peers makes people happy too.

Reserve time for yourself throughout the holiday season as well. Believe it or not, technology can help you stay in shape and relax. Here are some tips, including apps that help you meditate in just minutes.

Deck the Halls

Plan NOW for your holiday specials: beverages, treats, and entertainment. Festive décor can be simple and cost-effective. Speak to your spirits distributors about ideas for holiday-themed cocktails and involve your staff in coming up with creative recipes and trimmings.

‘Tis Also the Season of Charity

Whether you make your location a drop-off point for a coat or canned food drive or simply give a donation in the name of your business to a local non-profit, your charitable acts will not only help others, they will provide you with a way to connect with your community. Use social media and at-location signage to let your patrons know about your activities and cause.

Make a List and Check it Twice (or Maybe Three Times)

Advance planning is the key to success. Go old school and make a list of small steps you’re going to take each day to prepare for the holiday season. Post it in the team room. Start planning NOW for New Year’s Eve, too. Divide up responsibilities among your staff and have mini-celebrations at the end of each week after you’ve checked items off the list.

Last But Not Least…

Before you start thinking about festooning your venue for Super Bowl parties and Valentine couples, plan a fun little vacation for yourself and take time with family and friends. Even if it’s just a day at the spa or lying in bed watching sports and eating leftover holiday treats, you’ll have earned it!

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