Your Christmas checklist: how to capitalise on increased bookings

10 November, 2015 by
Danielle Bowling

Australian diners are already making their Christmas bookings, so restaurants and cafes need to make sure they’re ready for the influx. Here are five pointers that will help you maximise profits throughout the festive season.

According to Dimmi analysis, bookings around the country begin to increase in the second week of November, and in December the restaurant reservation platform sees a 6.5 percent increase in bookings compared to an average month.

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"For Aussie restaurants this is their busiest time. It's what they've been waiting for all year. It's showtime – and it's times to milk it for all it's worth. Those restaurants that prepare and plan for the Christmas rush are sure to end the year on a high and set themselves up for a strong 2016,” said Dimmi’s founder, Stevan Premutico.

Here are five key tips to help ensure this Christmas is your best one yet:

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  1. Talk to your customers – after spending all year building up a rich customer database (if you didn’t do it in 2015, make it a goal for 2016), it’s now time to enjoy the fruits of your labour. Be sure to email your customers to tell them about any Christmas offers and packages that might entice them to eat out at your restaurant, and not someone else’s. Don’t forget about social media too. This is a great channel to communicate with customers about Christmas specials in fun and creative ways.
     
  2. Keep your online diary open – with 32 percent of all bookings being made within 24 hours of dining time, it’s important to keep availability open during service to ensure you capture last-minute diners who book spontaneously. What’s more, group sizes often increases at Christmas so be sure to increase your maximum group size settings online to make sure you don't miss out on any large bookings – and the big bucks they bring.

     

  3. Roster on the A-team – be smart with the staff you choose for the busiest time of the year and put your best foot forward. Ensure you roster on staff who know the menu back to front, have a good knowledge of drinks (it is the silly season after all!) and who feel comfortable interacting with customers and having a bit of fun. This is a time to impress first time diners and turn them into customers for life.
     
  4. Use the up sell to boost profits – once you have a diner, or group of diners in your restaurant, it’s important to maximise spend. Retailers are brilliant at the ‘up sell’ and restaurants can use it to their advantage too. The average customer will be persuaded by a suggestion so don’t be afraid to put some forward. It might be a simple starter to begin with while the group orders drinks, or it could be an additional side, salad or a drink to compliment a certain dish. If done well these ‘add ons’ will boost profit margins significantly.
     
  5. Keep communication open – during busy service periods things don’t always go to plan. Occasionally orders might be lost or take longer than expected. If the kitchen is backed up and orders do take a while let your customers know about it. Apologise for the delay and offer a complimentary drink or nibble to make up for it. It’s likely that diners will remember your attentiveness, and forget about the delay. 

Foodservice businesses also need to consider responsible service of alchol obligations, food safety precautions and even which canapes work best when feeding the crowds. Hospitality recently caught up with leading chefs from around the country to get some advice on how to survive the busiest time of the year. Here's what they had to say.

Venues which had the largest number of bookings made through Dimmi in the two weeks leading up to Christmas in 2014.

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  1. Mejico Pitt St CBD, NSW
  2. Criniti's Darling Harbour, NSW
  3. Rustico Tapas, WA
  4. Catalina, NSW
  5. The Malaya, NSW
  6. Regatta Boatshed, QLD
  7. Four Winds Revolving Restaurant, QLD
  8. Hippo Creek African Grill, WA
  9. The Old Crow, WA
  10. San Telmo, VIC