It may only be the middle of summer, but it is prime time for restaurants, bars and clubs to begin making plans for Christmas and exploring ways in which bookings can be maximised.
We gathered the thoughts of some of our team members to discuss how you can begin preparing for the festive season now and how you can look to increase bookings during this all-important time of the year.
Have a defined strategy in place
Catherine Rigby, head of planning
“Christmas is obviously such an important time for restaurants, bars, clubs, etc.; it is the period when considerable revenue is achieved, so it is paramount that you have a defined strategy in place to begin increasing bookings for the festive season ahead.
“Work with your digital partner to identify how your online efforts can be maximised and how your target audiences can be most effectively catered for. Consider user behaviours with regards to your website and think about they can be most effectively engaged with in order to peak to interest around choosing your business as their Christmas party venue. Away from this, you’ll have to determine how individuals can be most effectively targeted through other channels; search engine marketing, email marketing, via social media, and so forth.”
Maximise your visibility using paid media tactics
Gavin Burgham, head of PPC and biddable media
“Paid search is a fantastic way to achieve and increase instant visibility across search engines. It is from this point onwards that most people will begin planning their Christmas parties, so ensure you have campaigns set up that will cater for the huge numbers of people that will likely be using Google to research party venues and ideas.
“Complementing this, you could also implement a display campaign to more actively engage users; attention-grabbing ads will draw users’ interest, even when they are not specifically considering venue bookings when presented with your ad. Remarketing can also be used to great effect, drawing on previous searches made by a user to push your venue and ensure it remains at the forefront of their thinking.”
Anticipate onsite user behaviours
Gemma McGreal, head of UX
“Having a fantastic looking website is all well and good, but ensuring you have a well-planned UX is absolutely paramount. With Christmas party bookings in mind, you’ll want to ensure that users can navigate to relevant pages in as few clicks as possible and their journeys across the site appear seamless. You could include a dedicated Christmas party booking tab as part of your navigation to aid or, even better, include a booking form on your homepage to generate an enquiry.
“You really have to take a step back and consider how users will interact with your site and on what device. If you want to push Christmas party bookings, ensure you start early by introducing a banner on your homepage which directs the user to a landing page with social sharing features and a dedicated booking form. This allows users to not only share the page, but instantly make an enquiry or booking in relatively few clicks - resulting in increased engagement, improved booking rates and page conversions”.
Give your organic search campaigns time to bed in
Danielle Williams, head of SEO
“Most online conversions now start with a search; modern users, unless they know the exact URL of a website, will use Google, Bing!, or Yahoo in the first instance. With this in mind, you’ll want to ensure that you’re being seen across search engines, by the correct audiences, when they submit a search. For Christmas party bookings, you’ll need to ensure you’re ranking for the right keywords, and you’ll need to make sure any campaign you implement has enough time to bed in.
“Imagine you’re a user considering where to have a Christmas party this year - you’ll likely use keywords such as ‘christmas party’, ‘christmas party venue’, etc. followed by a location (‘liverpool’, ‘liverpool city centre’, for example). Your SEO campaign will have to consider these keywords and ensure you’re ranking when users are searching. With location in mind, Local SEO tactics could, if used effectively, really help surface your website and help you rank prominently.”
Expand reach past your website and search engines
Jon Dickson, strategy executive
“You’ll want to engage as many users as possible when it comes to encouraging Christmas bookings. Planning promotional content early is key, and combining email and social media activity is ideal for visually showcasing the best aspects of your venue."
“Email marketing is a great way to directly communicate with users; even if an individual does not open your message, you’ll have been seen in their inbox and, with the correctly-targeted subject line, you can increase open rates and, ultimately, click through and booking rates. Paid social media advertising campaigns can also be utilised to extend the reach of promotional messages and target users specifically on their interests and life stages.”
If you’d like advice on your digital strategy for Christmas, or would simply like to discuss some preliminary ideas you may have, we’re here to assist your team.