When the government announced that Christmas was effectively going to be cancelled due to a third national lockdown, the owners and operators of bars, pubs, restaurants and hotels would have given a collective groan.
Juat when the sector has largely adapted to keeping customers safe from COVID-19 and with only a very small percentage of cases being linked to people going to bars, restaurants and hotels, the government announced a system of tiers.
Those companies in Tier 1 could open almost as usual, but those in Tier 2 and 3 were severly restricted, although the government’s decision to treat Scotch eggs as a ‘substantial meal’ did provide a boost for those in Tier 2.
But, following the PM’s recent announcement when he told us all to stay at home, every company in the leisure and hospitality sector was forced to close until further notice. This has had another devastating effect on a sector that still reeling from the previous restrictions on trade, but is there finally a reason for optimism?
With the vaccinations now being rolled out, no-one still knows when the restrictions will start to be lifted, which may not be before the middle of February 2021, but in the meantime bars and pub owners, have the chance to prepare for the grand re-opening, sometime later this year.
Here are our tips to get ahead.
Ensure that all new information is clearly presented and easy to find; it may be worth considering a new temporary landing page where all the new rules and advice is set out, before they proceed to the main site.
Ensure that the News section of the website is up to date and that all relevant information is added as soon as possible.
As soon as the re-opening dates are announced, they should be posted prominently across the website.
2. Social media
Schedule a series of announcements so that each new post relates to a specific rule or recommendation, for the main social media outlets. Add in images of your venue, including food and drink, to increase engagement, as well as discounts and special offers.
3. Email newsletters
If you already have a regular newsletter use this as a platform to advise and update your customers; if not, we would suggest you start collecting customer data (working to GDPR guidelines) to help keep them up to date with regular, personalised emails.
4. Publicity & advertising
Contact the local media with details when new opening hours have been announced and explain the measures taken to comply with the latest government guidelines. Consider booking a series of adverts to inform your customers about the changes they can expect when they visit your venue.
5. Staff training
This will only be possible for venues that are still open, but it is essential to ensure that all staff are fully aware of the new rules and the measures you will have put in place, so that they can answer any questions and help reassure anyone who may be concerned about meeting in public.