The smell of cut grass, longer days, an ice-cold drink on a hot day… there are so many things to love about the summer. When it comes to your business, there’s plenty to love too. Customers come flocking to venues that promise them the best summer experience. You may be asking how you can make the most of all these people and all these extra opportunities to make profit. Well, with that in mind, we have compiled a couple of pointers on how to do just that.

  1. Relocate outside!

If there’s one thing we love in this country, it’s a beer garden. Now, you don’t necessarily have to serve beer, of course – but al fresco dining always makes a pleasant change to the months of inside dining we have in the UK because of our, um, somewhat unpredictable weather patterns. If you are lucky enough to have an outdoor area, whether it’s for dining or a play area for children, decorate it, and make it a feature of your venue! Customers will be attracted to the space, and they’ll be able to see it without even entering your actual venue, so you will attract more new customers! Think of it as “window dressing” for your business.

2. Summer food and drink offers

Everybody has a certain item of food or drink that they immediately associate with summer – whether it’s a BBQ burger, a cool glass of lemonade, or something in between. Sales of summery food and drink items increase at this time of year anyway, so putting offers on items you know are going to sell, you’ll only encourage more sales and entice more customers. People will be more than willing to hand over their hard-earned cash if a long, cool glass of summery punch is on the menu – make the most of it!

3. Summer-specific loyalty initiative

Something else people have more of in the summer is simply, time. The days are longer, there are more bank holidays, and more holidays in general… this means that your audience have more time to visit your venue. You need to make the most out of this, and one way of doing it is by introducing a summer-specific loyalty initiative. If there are six weeks for school summer holidays, why not introduce a scheme where customers receive points if they visit on a weekly basis? That way you’ll increase traffic in your venue, push customer retention up, and profits too. Or simply increase the amount of points customers are able to collect during the summer months – that way, both of you win!

4. School summer holiday advertising

This is absolutely key if you are to increase profits over the summer months. The school summer holidays mean you are likely to have a captive audience at your venue for over a month. However, this also means they’ll be a lot of competition for people visiting your venue as opposed to others in the area, so increasing your marketing effort is imperative to success. Whether you mostly advertise online or by physical means, now is the time to step up that effort, and perhaps come up with a few new, innovative ways to spread the word?! Check out our previous marketing blog post if you need some inspiration.

However you choose to celebrate summer at your venue, do it in style with Booked it! Our software suite will make it 100% easier to summer-proof your business, and increase sales whilst making the most of this good weather.

Words by Rebecca Clayton

After lockdown finished just over a year ago, most of us were both happy and relieved to see our customers again. After so long spent trying to navigate our way through the increasingly complex system of rules and regulations surrounding social distancing, we were all very keen to get back to some semblance of normality as quickly as possible.

However, we can still feel some of the effects of the pandemic in the way we run our businesses. Social distancing, hand sanitiser stations, hybrid working… these are all terms that we had no idea about in 2019 but are now incredibly familiar with! Something else that has become something of a buzzword is the phrase ‘customer retention.’ Since getting our customers back, nobody wants to lose them again. Hence, businesses all over the country are envisaging and implementing inventive ways to capture customers’ attention again. Now that the pandemic has passed, the cost of living crisis has reared its head. Some businesses have been concerned that their customer base will disappear along with their disposable income. This is not necessarily the case, however; all that’s necessary is to make proper use of something that you may be currently treating as an inconvenient by-product of your booking system.

Data – this is what allows you to get to know your customers on a deeper level than you ever thought possible. By getting to know key characteristics of your customer base, you can personalise the service and products you provide. In doing so, you improve your customer service, and keep your audience coming back for more. Collecting data is easy with Booked it. We have created multiple ways to simplify and automate the process of data collection, to make it as simple as possible for both yourself and your staff. There are three main ways to collect data with minimal effort on your part. These are:

  1. Through your booking system – When your customers use our booking system, data will be collected regarding their age, gender, and how often they have booked through our system before. This makes it simple for you to gain a more intimate understanding of your company’s demographic, and can therefore more easily make decisions about products and services to offer them.
  2. Through your EPOS system – when customers order either at the cashier or through our app, data will be collected about the products they’re purchasing and the amount they’re buying at one time. This makes it simple to market certain products to specific customers. By personalising your loyalty scheme and marketing material to their specific habits, you will be able to increase profits and customer retention.
  3. Through a loyalty scheme – loyalty schemes allow you to increase sales and dwell time whilst customers are in your venue. If you know that a customer often spends a large amount of money at your venue, you can use loyalty schemes to identify what products or specific services they purchase more often, and tailor the offers and reward points you offer accordingly. Equally, for those customers who don’t spend so much at your venue, a loyalty scheme is the perfect way to encourage them to increase their spend-per-head.

These three methods of data collection can be used individually, but our software works best when using a combination of these three methods. Our software and hardware tools make it far easier to extrapolate data from a large customer pool with minimum fuss. This data will then be visible on our dashboard. On our dashboard, you can access visual charts and graphs that help you to understand your customers.

Our dashboard will segment your customers automatically based on details they give when they sign up to your mailing list or mobile ordering service. Our dashboard can help to visualise their spending habits, frequency of their visits, or their favourites products and/or services you provide in real-time. This makes it simpler for you to understand what keeps your customers coming back, so that you can ensure you keep providing them with the service they’ve come to expect from you. Segmenting your data allows you to personalise it according to how each customer interacts with your business. It is this that will help you to make the most of your customers – understanding their needs and taking them into consideration will lead to greater brand engagement, and increased customer retention.

Most people are aware that data is a useful tool for businesses – putting that into practice is a whole other story. Often, the day-to-day stressors of running a business get in the way of properly utilising data. After all, it can be a time consuming and complex process. Booked it software makes it easy to use data to increase customer retention, even amid financial hardship.

Words by Rebecca Clayton

Last week, unprecedented celebrations took place across the country as the UK commemorated the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. For the first time in history, the late May bank holiday was moved to the 2nd June to give the public a four day weekend. As was to be expected, the long weekend was a hive of activities and events – street parties, a televised concert, and the beginning of the festival season all encouraged people to leave their homes and use hospitality venues in a way that hasn’t been seen since before the pandemic.

This can be confirmed by statistics provided to us by Barclaycard Payments. According to Barclaycard, which processes £1 in every £3 spent on credit and debit cards in the UK, restaurants saw a 41.5% increase in spending in comparison with this time last year, with spending on entertainment increasing in tandem by 67.3%. Furthermore, UK pubs, bars and nightclubs saw a 74.2% rise in spending compared to the same period last year. This data is still in its infancy, and it is likely that over the next few weeks more data-led think tanks and companies will come forward with statistics that further compound the positive effects the Jubilee bank holiday had on the economy, in particular the leisure and hospitality industries.

“Spending soared across many sectors during the Platinum Jubilee weekend as Brits came together to celebrate and enjoy the sunny weather” says Rob Cameron, CEO of Barclaycard Payments. “Despite wider concerns around the cost of living, the hospitality sector especially will be pleased by this welcome boost, having missed out on two years of unrestricted trading,” Cameron continues.

This boost to profits lies in stark contrast to the cost of living crisis, which has led to a 5.9% decline in spending at restaurants and a 1.2% decline in pubs, bar, and clubs. It is these spiralling costs that have led business leaders to urge the government to implement a supplementary bank holiday. It is most likely that this would be known as a “thank holiday,” to permanently honour the monarch and her public service. The extra bank holiday, proposed in an open letter by UK Hospitality and the CBI, is projected to increase spending in the leisure and hospitality industries, as well as bring England and Wales up to speed with our neighbours and European counterparts – whilst England and Wales have 8 bank holidays annually, Scotland and Ireland have 10, and Finland, France and Germany have 11.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, said that the sector would be “ready to embrace this important tribute”, although opening hours may be restricted during a new bank holiday and businesses might need to find additional staffing cover. The government has remained resistant to the proposals, arguing that the cost of an extra bank holiday would be £1.36bn when the impact on business of closures, disruption to production schedules, and premium payments to staff working on the bank holiday, were all taken into consideration.

The Jubilee weekend has proven to the government that bank holiday can be lucrative investments, and can be the catalyst for increased spending, particularly in the leisure and hospitality industries. We shall see over the coming weeks whether the data providing by Barclays has any effect on the government’s stance against an extra bank holiday.

Words by Rebecca Clayton

At the end of this week, the Queen will be celebrating her Platinum Jubilee. This is an historic occasion, as Elizabeth II is the United Kingdom and Commonwealth’s longest-reigning monarch. If you’re wondering why that should concern you, you’ll be happy to know that to commemorate this unprecedented situation, we’re all getting an extra bank holiday! This means that we will all be basking in the glow of a four-day weekend at the end of this week. If that’s not enough to celebrate our Queen, then I don’t know what is.

The four-day bank holiday weekend means that things are going to be pretty hectic in terms of activities and entertainment. A four-day bank holiday weekend means that hospitality and leisure venues are going to be absolutely packed, with everybody wanting to take advantage of the extended weekend, and (fingers crossed!) some sunshine. If you’re starting to panic about your long weekend plans (or lack thereof), worry not. This is what we do best at Booked it – we’ve compiled a list of all our favourite activities and venues, to hopefully give you a few recommendations and inspiration for fun ways to fill up your calendar this bank holiday.

  1. Go bowling

Bowling is having something of a revival now, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s fun, everyone can get involved, and you can have plenty of refreshments whilst doing it! Plus, as bowling mostly happens inside, it’s the perfect activity if the weather isn’t ideal (i.e. rain). There are plenty of novelty bowling alleys, each with a different theme and vibe. Some tap into their retro routes with a 50s style diner and lanes, and others go for a more underground, disco décor. We have partnerships with many bowling alleys at Booked it – our friends over at Disco Bowl have created the perfect party atmosphere for the bank holiday weekend, whilst Riverside Bowl is the perfect venue for all your friends and family!

2. Get outside

As long as the skies are clear, everybody is going to want to be outside in the fresh air. Whether you’re heading to the park, to the coastline, or even just to your local beer garden, there’s so many possibilities if you just step outside your front door. If you fancy an ice cold drink in a beer garden, we recommend you book ahead. Unfortunately, everybody is going to have the same idea as you. On the plus side, our booking software is so easy to use that we’re sure you’ll find a table at any of the venues we work with!

3. Go clubbing

All you party people are probably just excited about the prospect of having two extra days to go out all night dancing (and two extra days to recover from all that dancing). Clubbing is a great way to have fun and support your local nightlife communities. We have our roots in the nightlife industry, and we still look after some of the country’s most well-loved venues. Take Infernos, for instance. The famous south London nightclub has seen a lot over the years, and it’s still going strong. Using our Licklist app, you can book tickets, buy drinks, and even collect points to earn rewards! Plus, our expert photographers are on hand to make sure you have a night you’ll never forget.

4. Activity centres

Why not do something different this bank holiday, and try not a new sport or activity? There are so many activities to choose from, and luckily you’ve got four days to pack as much in as possible. From swimming to rock climbing, soft play centres and laser tag, there’s something for everybody. If you’ve spent enough time inside over the last few years to last a lifetime, why not get outside instead? With outdoor swimming, karting, camping, and even axe throwing (which thanks to Box Park, is having its moment) there’s a million and one things to keep all the friends and family entertained.

5. Events

There are so many events planned for the bank holiday and the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee across the UK, so why not get involved? From the beginning of the festival season to street food festivals, to galas and horse racing, a four day weekend is the perfect opportunity to get out there and do something different. From the Chelmsford City Racecourse to the Victoria Warehouse, we have a vast variety of event spaces at Booked it for you to choose from.

Our venues are ready for anything the long weekend can throw at them… Have the best four-day bank holiday with Booked it!

Words by Rebecca Clayton

Automated marketing messaging is slowly becoming a more prominent form of marketing, as customers are increasingly encouraged to supply their email addresses in exchange for e-receipts, mobile ordering, or digital loyalty schemes. The coronavirus pandemic only accelerated this shift toward email marketing, as customers were required to supply their contact details to order to make bookings and comply with the government’s Test and Trace system. Recent research shows that email is often the best way to reach out to customers as visitors are more likely to give their email address to companies than they are their phone number.

Automated marketing messages are a fantastic tool that anybody, no matter how small your business, can take advantage of. It keeps your customers engaged, ensures that your business is at the forefront of their mind, and can be a useful way of determining the sort of content that appeals to those on your mailing list. The beauty of automated messaging is that it’s, well, automated – you don’t have to play an active role in sending emails, which leaves you more time to focus on other aspects of your business. That being said, you still have to devise the content that appears in each automated message. If you’ve stuck for ideas, you’re in luck! Scroll down for some ideas for content to get you off the starting block.

  1. The ‘before’ message

This one is quite straightforward, but the ‘before’ message is absolutely key if you are to maximise space at your venue and reduce no-shows. You’d be surprised (or maybe not!) how often customers make bookings, and then promptly forget about them. Sending a friendly message reminding them about the date and time of their booking is a polite way to nudge people if they need to make any amendments to their booking or even, sadly, a last minute cancellation. Furthermore, it’s also a great way to prepare your customers before their visit with any information about accessibility, dietary requirements, or ordering, which is worth knowing in advance.

2. The ‘after’ message

Venues often dismiss the importance of what is colloquially known as the ‘after’ message, but it’s importance should not be underestimated. Not only is it polite to thank your visitors for making their booking, but it gives you an opportunity to ask customers to reflect on the experience they had. Sometimes we dread feedback, but ultimately, feedback is what pushes us to improve and enhance our business. Many people rely on feedback and reviews when deciding between competitors, and if you can provide potential customers with a wealth of glowing reviews, they will be more inclined to visit your business than another one nearby.

3. The birthday message

A touch of personalisation never goes amiss, and if you require customers to sign up for a rewards scheme or mobile app upon arrival at your venue, it is easy to access data regarding peoples’ birthdays. Offering customers discounts and rewards around the time of their birthday – whether you decide to reward your customers only on their big day or for their entire birthday month – will increase both your spend-per-head and the quality of your customer experience. Who knows, they might even decide to host their birthday at your venue!

4. The ‘you’ve forgotten something’ message

Perhaps they’ve popped something into their basket to remind them to buy it later, or perhaps they went to all the trouble of adding something to their cart only to change their mind at the last hurdle. Regardless of their reasoning, sometimes a “there’s something in your basket” message gives customers that extra little push they need to treat themselves at your venue. Failing that, a short but sweet “you’ve forgotten something” message can make you seem more attentive to your customers’ needs and spending habits, which leads them to look upon your business more favourably.

5. The ‘we miss you message’

There’s no such as looking needy when you’re doing business! Sometimes even your most loyal customers go elsewhere, and a quick “we miss you” message can remind them about all the great offers you have! Whether you’re sending this automated message every month, three months, or bi-annually, staying connected with customers you haven’t seen in a while can keep them engaged, and keep your business at the forefront of their mind next time they’re looking for somewhere to go.

Start sending automated messages to your customers today, and reap the benefits! Our software allows you to send timed and personalised messages for all the reasons we’ve highlighted above. Check out our guide to find out more.

Words by Rebecca Clayton