Trail for the holidays

It’s the most chaotic time of the year for hospitality. Make sure your team is prepared for the festive season and you have the right systems in place.
Amanda Poetker
Dec 2023
4 min read
Waitress setting a table

There are two types of people. Those who wait all year for the first opportunity to crack out the Michael Bublé Christmas album again, and everybody else. Whichever camp you fall into, there’s no denying that the festive season is here.

It’s around this time of year that you call upon your customers, giving them a gentle reminder to plan their holiday parties. “The sooner you book” you tell them, “the less you will stress, and you’ll avoid the disappointment of not getting those dates you want”. Trust us, we are professionals.

But while you’re busy reminding your customers they need to act now, your own list of tasks to get ready for the season is piling up in the background.

The same message that you send to your customers applies directly to your planning strategy:

  • Plan ahead for less stress
  • Plan ahead to avoid disappointment
  • Plan ahead to save money in the long run

It’s all in the planning

December is the busiest month in the hospitality calendar year. You can expect to see more than double the number of covers on any given day, compared to the rest of the year, and expectations are running high. Your customers are expecting the very best from you; service, food and delivery.

When your covers go up, your free time goes down, and important elements can get left behind in a hurry, putting you (and your customers) at risk.

Bringing it all together

Planning ahead is just one of the ways that you can stand out from the competition this festive season.

A slick operation requires careful consideration and preparation; it’s a crucial time of the year and you can’t afford to get it wrong. With the right processes in place, you can set your business up for a successful Christmas without any of the stress or hassle.

1. Look at the data

Checking out your bookings, covers and sales from last year can help you to forecast covers for this year. Pay particular attention to the most popular days.

2. Plan festive menus

Costing and pricing your festive menus and packages should be one of your top priorities so that you can begin booking in covers.

We don’t know about you, but one of our favourite days in the lead up to Christmas is the Christmas menu cook-off, for obvious reasons. But, rolling out a new menu really doesn’t need to be a stressful exercise.

With Trail, you can implement a new menu launch within 2 weeks. The system allows you to schedule actions and reminds your team to complete them on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. By using real-time reports, you can check back to see which sites have completed their tasks, and who still has actions outstanding.

3. Create a marketing and promotion plan

There is no point in having an awesome Christmas offering if nobody knows about it.

Make an action plan for how you are going to promote your Christmas menus and packages. Update your website, make sure all of your seasonal POS is on site and print festive menu packages.

4. Assess your staffing needs

There is no doubt that you will be needing to hire-in additional staff for the festive season — how else are you going to serve all of those extra covers?

You will need to plan rotas and organise additional staff according to your bookings diary.

It’s important that new starters feel engaged and part of the team. By simply building on daily habits, you can create a brand standard and company culture that is easy to adopt by all members of the team.

This is true throughout the year, but especially important when you have limited time for new staff inductions.

5. Compliance

Of course, more people in your venue poses higher risks, and this is particularly relevant at this time of the year.

Keeping on top of compliance and legislation is a year-round priority. But food safety, health and safety, accident reporting and procedures can also take up a lot of your valuable time.

We know that creating a culture around best practice is important for a successful business, particular during the festive season.

6. Take stock

Christmas is a time for celebrating, and what better way to celebrate than with a glass of bubbles? So you will want to make sure you have plenty of extra flutes on hand.

Referring back to your bookings diary, you may need to hire in plenty of additional cutlery, crockery and glasses to cater for those extra guests.Plan your stock deliveries to cater for your busiest days, there is no excuse for running out of food or drink at this time of the year.

7. Decorations!

Nothing gets us in the festive mood quite like Christmas decorating. It’s a fun team-building activity and it reminds your customers that their Christmas party is fast approaching. It’s the little details that show your customers that you are willing to go the extra mile for them. Remember to check your covers; do you have plenty of crackers and napkins for all of your guests?

The Christmas Debrief

Every January, once all the chaos of the festive season feels more like the ghost of Christmas past, you will sit down with your team to debrief. You will talk about what went well, what didn’t go so well, and what can be improved for next year.

All of this feedback gets added to the Christmas planner. The planner gives you a checklist and timeline of the best practices for planning the Christmas party season. But Christmas happens once a year, and so the planner sits on the filing shelf, alone and forgotten until October.

The Christmas planner is great, but if no one looks at it, it’s not really helpful. Make sure you have a system in place for bringing out the planner and implementing the actions you’ll need to get done in order to pull it off.

Stay ahead of the holiday season with smart systems that benefit you all year round. Let’s talk.

McManus Pubs customer testimonial

What customers are saying

"I f****** love Trail, it's taking my businesses to the next level."
Josh Paterson
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Operations Director

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