Get set for Christmas

06 October 2011
Get set for Christmas

You may think it's crackers to begin thinking about Christmas now but by planning in advance you can ensure the festive season is a success. We've rounded-up advice from the experts to attract the early bookings

prepare early
Remember, Christmas parties start as early as November. Get your festive menus up early to attract early bird bookings. They should be tempting and appealing to your customers and posters and promoting the festive menu at point of sale can also help to generate early interest.
Vanessa Millard, senior marketing manager, 3663

keep the menu simple
Keep your Christmas menu simple and stock up on staple fish such as smoked salmon, prawns and sea bass, which have wide appeal. Use your specials board to introduce other species, giving customers more choice. This allows you to change the dish to suit availability and ensure you get the best value.
Sally Sturley, head of food marketing, Brakes Group

check your staffing levels
Make sure you have enough staff. Providing a fast efficient service is just as important at Christmas as any other time of year. Remember, staff should have fun as customers will remember a personal, friendly service.
Stuart Hyslop, sales director - catering, Booker

create a theme
British food and provenance is increasingly important to consumers. Create a British-themed menu, with subtle twists to keep things interesting, to meet this demand.
Vanessa Millard, senior marketing manager, 3663

food & wine pairing
For pubs offering Christmas party menus, think about providing wine matches for each course for an opportunity to push those wines that offer great returns. Try matching starters such as smoked salmon with a crisp Chardonnay, and turkey with a classy French Pinot Noir. Puddings allow additional sales opportunities; offer a sweet wine by the glass or port to match the cheese board.

value your good customers
Show your regulars that you appreciate their custom by sending cards and include discount vouchers. You could also invite your best customers for a Christmas drink where you showcase your menu.
Stuart Hyslop, sales director - catering, Booker

tasteful decoration
Chefs must embrace and join in with the Christmas spirit without going over the top, which can look tacky. Some tasteful decorations will only enhance your customers' dining experience during the festive season, but even a few Poinsettia plants will give a restaurant a nice Christmassy feel without going overboard.
Michel Roux Jnr, chef-patron,Le Gavroche

don't forget vegetarians
Vegetarians are often the main decision makers on where to go when eating out, so make sure you offer thoughtful exciting vegetarian choices that are as enticing as meat and fish dishes.
Vanessa Millard, senior marketing manager, 3663

offer value
Reassuring the customer that they will get value for money will be a crucial factor for restaurateurs this year. Three quarters of respondents" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">out of a survey of 300 people] said they would consider three to five different restaurants' menus before making a reservation.
Sally Whelan, director, the Mystery Dining Company

advertise your best offer
Draw attention to your most enticing offer and show them the great value, as well as the memorable experience you are going to provide. Offer an ‘early bird' promotion to fill quiet tables and throw in a little extra such as a complimentary mince pies or Christmas pudding if customers purchase tea or coffee or perhaps a free pre-dinner drink.
Stuart Hyslop, sales director - catering, Booker

get the fizz factor
Christmas and New Year is traditionally the peak time for UK Champagne sales but it's worth considering less expensive alternatives, that still deliver the fizz factor. Prosecco and Cava are great Champagne substitutes, and with a lighter style, are often preferred as an aperitif or party drink.

colour trends
This year has seen Christmas colour trends return to traditional reds, greens and golds. Use napkins and crackers in colour tones of red and green, allowing tableware to tie in with room decor.
Duni (

cater for breakfast
A lot of restaurants are not aware of the Christmas breakfast market where you can do a Champagne full English and cater for parties. If marketed correctly, it can be a real money spinner. Instead of late night expensive office party bookings at restaurants, this is a cheaper and attractive alternative.
Lawrence Keogh, head chef, Roast

chef's festive recommendation
People will trust "the manager's or chef's" judgement and be more likely to take such advice. Ensure the recommendation is a great quality drink or dish that makes a good profit.
Stuart Hyslop, sales director - catering, Booker


five ways to boost wine sales

christmas wine
christmas wine
1 Some 55% of consumers are open to seeing branded wines in the on-trade as they provide reassurance in much the same way that beers, spirits and soft drinks do. Stock a range of premium branded wines to realise this profit opportunity at a time when your outlet is experiencing increased footfall.

2Consumers are prepared to pay a premium price for quality wines at Christmas; in addition to stocking premium wines, outlets should list wines from premium countries like Spain (Rioja) and New Zealand to capitalise on these higher value categories.

3 Nearly a quarter (21%) of consumers said they would buy sparkling wine in the on-trade; however only 14% of outlets stock it. Offer at least one or two sparkling wine options this Christmas to unlock its popularity.

4 Some 37% of consumers drink wine with a meal in the on-trade; an occasion that becomes increasingly prevalent at Christmas. Encourage your consumers to trade up to premium wines with simple food and wine matching recommendations.

5 The appeal of cocktails and mixed drinks go beyond spirits. Include sparkling wine cocktails on your Christmas drinks menu to inspire your consumers.

Lee James, channel director for wine, Pernod Ricard UK

four ways to ensure everyone has the Christmas spirit

christmas spirit
christmas spirit
1 Premium spirits now account for 36% of all spirit sales - that's just over £1 in every £3 spent on spirits. Stock a range of premium brands to capitalise on this profit opportunity.

2Some 25% of purchases are influenced specifically by the back bar, and drinks menus are the most influential point of sale on purchasing decisions. Ensure your premium spirits proposition is clearly presented and menus are visible at both the bar and on tables.

3 Half of all spirit drinkers are willing to pay more if an up-sell offer is made. Ensure your staff are familiar with the premium spirits opportunity and are trained in simple up-selling techniques to offer consumers a premium alternative.

4 Staff that are able to create a perfect drink, every time, will encourage longer stays, trial and repeat visits, so invest time in training and make use of supplier-led tools and initiatives.

Nick Yates, channel director for on-trade spirits, Pernod Ricard UK

peckforton castle: bouncing back in time for christmas

Peckforton Castle
Peckforton Castle
Peckforton Castle in Cheshire is already gearing up for Christmas, having bounced back from an arson attack earlier this summer.

The 48-room hotel and events venue suffered damage to 14 rooms in the attack in June this year but managed to reopen its restaurant, spa and other facilities just a week later.

By August, it had restored eight of the 14 damaged rooms back to public use. Now the hotel is planning a series of Christmas events, including a Christmas murder mystery and a black tie dinner in the New Year.

The Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email

Start the working day with The Caterer’s free breakfast briefing email

Sign Up and manage your preferences below

Check mark icon
Thank you

You have successfully signed up for the Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email and will hear from us soon!

Jacobs Media is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.


Ad Blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an adblocker and – although we support freedom of choice – we would like to ask you to enable ads on our site. They are an important revenue source which supports free access of our website's content, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.

trade tracker pixel tracking