Six Top Tips to Improve Your Hospitality Business During the COVID-19 Lockdown

6 Top Tips
It’s been a crushing time for the hospitality industry (as well as many others). Just as tourists were about to migrate, we were hit with the COVID-19 lockdown. There’s no Easter rush, summer bookings are cancelling and this has thrown many hoteliers, restauranteurs and leisure park operators into panic and despair.
 
None of us truly know how long we will be affected by COVID-19, but we can certainly wave goodbye to at least half of the 2020 high season takings.
 
The thing is, amidst the panic, most of you will survive. And what you do during this downtime can make all the difference to your business success when the lockdown is finally over. Don’t know where to start? Here are our six top tips of what to do whilst your business is on lockdown.
 
Ask for help

1. Claim government assistance

This might seem obvious to most, but if there is assistance out there for you – do claim it!

Check online or contact your accountant, financial advisor or message us if you need to be put in touch with somebody who can advise you.

 
Veg Box Delivery

2. Help your community

You can help your community through this tough time both physically and psychologically.

Many businesses are offering delivery of meals to their local areas, and boxed supplies of fruit, veg, meat and dairy. Could you do the same? Can you set up a weekly farm shop in the car park of your premises using your suppliers (who incidentally are also ‘feeling the pinch’)? Set up a stand with bunting and straw bales to bring cheer to the local community when they come to collect their pre-ordered produce. If you’re in a remote area you could offer customers a coffee on collection to keep morale going (taking into consideration social distancing, collection times, demand etc).

Paint a rainbow on the side of your premises, hang a banner, run a local competition and have children’s pictures hanging in your windows, or run a photography competition – use the entries to create a 2021 village calendar.

There are endless ways of helping the community through these difficult times and your neighbours will remember if you get involved.

For businesses with a national or global market – there is nothing stopping you doing something similar. You just have a larger and wider spread audience with which to communicate and this will require you reaching them in different ways.

 
email campaigns and marketing

3. Stay in touch with your customers

Whatever form of communication you’ve used in the past, if it’s proved successful, then continue using it. Your may think ‘I’ve nothing to tell them – we’re closed and don’t know when we’re re-opening’. But this is the perfect time to keep people updated on what’s happening locally, feel good stories of how communities are pulling together. Show them pictures of local support and tell them about your contributions. You can also let them know about any changes you’re making to your business during this time out, which brings me to my next point…

 
 
redecorating with paint

4. Invest if you can

An old boss once said to me when describing the difference between two General Managers – one was a goalkeeper, the other a striker. Now for any of you football fans out there, you’ll understand that they have equally important roles in a team, but what I will say, is if you have the slightest opportunity to be a striker then go for it (after all it’s the position that every kid wants to play!).

So, consider your finances. You only need to look at the general public who are now at home using this time to brighten their garden and homes for inspiration. Now I don’t wish to get into a situation where we’re debating what is and isn’t essential, but what I will say, is if it is safe for you (and others) to brighten up a bedroom or two or give the dining room a lick of paint, now may be the time to do it. Or simply get the weeding done and make your venue look extra inviting for your reopening.

 

5. Use your time wisely

Let’s be honest, most of us will be consumed with fear and sleepless nights. But if you’re going to have sleepless nights, fill them with ideas.

This is a time to consider what you are great at, and what you’re not so great at. Consider ways to improve on your weaknesses, or whether to remove them from your business and keep improving on your strengths. Take one of the many free online courses that are being offered by the Open University.

It’s a time for reflection. Are you hitting your budget? Is it time to re-consider the business plan, to expand, to diversify? Would expanding your core skill set help?

 
 

Google Analytics screen

6. Keep marketing

Unless point 5 is playing a major role for your business, it’s really important to keep marketing even if it’s on a shoestring. The first thing we’re asked when we say this is, why? Well, if nothing else it maintains your market position, but when done correctly, it should certainly improve it. You’ll be building customer loyalty and attracting new talent to your business (especially if you’ve been in the unfortunate position of having to let team members go). It’s about brand recognition and maintaining the pipeline!

Consider upping your game in SEO – great copywriters can help with this project. Or, if you think there may be areas to improve on your website, use one of the hundreds of free tools online to do a full website audit. Consider moving your marketing budget for spring/summer trade shows and print to online marketing. After all, most people are now at home and internet usage has increased.

It’s also a great time to consider PPC (Pay per click) campaigns and social media advertising. Despite all of the chatter about how Facebook advertising isn’t as effective as it used to be, it remains one of the easiest ways to target specific audiences. Just monitor your metrics to ensure your time and money are working for you.

Whatever your situation, we hope you’ll survive and thrive!

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