New tier yules: How operators should now prepare for a Covid Christmas - VIDEO

November 27, 2020

With the new tier restrictions coming into force next week, hospitality operators are having to come to terms with the reality that Christmas trading this year will be very different to a typical festive season.

We're supporting operators to make the best of the opportunities available, whether operating under the Rule of Six and curtailed 11pm curfew opening hours in tier two, or in areas with more stringent tier 3 controls that see hospitality businesses limited to takeaway and delivery only.

Toggle gift cards enable customers to show their support for their favourite pubs and restaurants by buying cards that friends and family can redeem later, or to use now to enjoy food and drink within the regulations that apply. Users can be up and running with gift cards in around 30 minutes, and Toggle is free up to £1000 of revenue. 

Our advice for maximising the revenue potential of gift cards this Christmas includes:

  1. Plan your gift range. Tailor gift card offers to the new reality, for example, by turning the restrictions into a marketing opportunity by selling at-home experience gift cards or offer “early bird” cards to encourage customers to book early evening food and drink to help turn tables twice before the 10pm last orders cut off.   
  2. Go the distance: Promote cards right through to Christmas Eve and beyond. In 2019, the 23rd of December accounted for 5.8% of sales across November and December, compared to 5.6% on Christmas Eve and 5.2% on Black Friday. A January sale, with cards giving additional value when redeemed from 2nd January onwards, can help to extend the festive sales period.   
  3. Add value: Experiences allow you to be more creative with offers. A dinner for two including a bottle of wine or a Masterclass sometimes goes down better with customers and has a different appeal to a simple money-value gift card. 
  4. Get physical: Although there are fewer customers visiting pubs and restaurants this year, it’s still worth displaying physical gift cards prominently, as well as advertising on table talkers, in menus and on till receipts. Some people don’t email cards, either because they are unsure of the process or because they want to gift something physical with substance.  
  5. Give something back: It’s been a tough year for everyone. Toggle offers options to generate revenue for a charity or local cause as part of the sale with Pay it Forwards. A great example of this is Gusto Restaurants Pledge1Cook1 campaign.

Dan Brookman, CEO of Toggle, said, “With 60% of annual gift card sales taking place in the run-up to Christmas, having a gift card offer in place is going to be more important than ever this year, as operators see their usual revenue streams, such as office parties and large groups of family or friends meeting for food and drink, disappear.

“The reality this year is that some people will still want to go out for food and drinks under the restrictions, while others will want to postpone the celebrations until more normal times return, whenever that may be. Gift cards give customers the confidence and flexibility to support operators, knowing that the recipient can redeem the card now or later. We’ve also enabled Toggle retail for operators to put their brands in peoples homes”    

“It’s important to take every opportunity to market gift cards,” adds Brookman. “Use banners on customer emails and your social media channels, and incentivise your teams to drive sales. The pattern of Christmas spending this year may be uncertain, but it’s a certainty that people will still buy gifts for each other. Make sure your brand is under the tree!”

Hundreds of pubs, bars and restaurants are live on Toggle, including: YO! Sushi, Revolution, Gusto, Leon, Tonkotsu, JW Lees, Yummy Pubs, Boston Tea Party, Brewhouse & Kitchen, Côte, Turtle Bay, Rudy’s, San Carlo, Bob Bob Ricard, Park Chinois, Revolución de Cuba, Hickory’s Smokehouse, Ego Restaurants & Rosa's Thai Café.