The hospitality industry knows how to pivot. From utilizing Bring Your Own Device technology to offering comfortable, outdoor dining year-round, restaurants, cultural centers, and event venues are continually evolving to keep their doors open and their customers happy. An annual pivot that food and beverage businesses have perfected is in response to seasonality. Venues are able to plan for and combat the effects that they can predict are coming. The Coronavirus pandemic, however, has ushered unpredictable and unrelenting challenges that we, at Sestra, want to help businesses combat. Our tips and technology to optimize your venue for reduced capacity will not only prove valuable in the Corona-age, they’ll help bolster customer retention, growth, and sales as “normalcy” returns. So, how can you serve customers at the highest level without overspending on staff?
Increase Points of Service
If you have a large venue and people have to be seated spaced away from other guests or it’s simply not your busiest night, make it as easy as possible for your guests to order food and beverages wherever they are. Self-serve kiosks and mobile bars allow you to stagger serving stations throughout your venue rather than requiring people to congregate in a single line. Self-serve stations keep your patrons distanced and staff from being overworked.
Mobile bar benefits are three-fold; not only do they keep your guests safely distanced and staff from burn out, they reduce wait times and congestion. Want to reduce friction and optimize your venue for reduced capacity without adding additional stations? Display signs with QR codes that let customers view your menu and order from their mobile devices wherever they are, whether that’s sitting at a table, wandering through the gardens, or checking out the latest exhibits. This process also allows staff to view customer location and deliver food directly to them so food and and beverage service becomes part of the experience, not ancillary to it.
QR codes can also be used as receipts, allowing customers to order digitally, then pick up their food and drinks by scanning their proof of purchase. Sestra’s touchless dispensers make use of this technology, offering safe and speedy sales and dispensing of beer, wine, cocktails, coffee, condiments, and more.
Make Every Occasion a Special Occasion
Give your guests a reason to leave home and celebrate by hosting special events and offering limited releases. The pop-up bar trend isn’t going anywhere and gives guests a reason to come back to see what’s new. From Christmas themes to tiki bars and everything in between, updated decorations and drink specials give guests an Instagrammable, limited time experience they won’t want to miss.
Updating themes and specials consistently gives guests something new to look forward to. Whether you offer a new drink special each Friday, change your theme seasonally, or decorate annually for Christmas, make it as seamless as possible to become a part of your guests’ traditions. Then, make these traditions social media friendly with suggested hashtags and photo opportunities like backdrops.
Limited releases and specials are also the perfect opportunity to upsell. Fewer people spending more money is the goal when optimizing your venue for reduced capacity.
Give it a Feeling of Exclusivity
In addition to limited releases and experiences, incite FOMO (fear of missing out) by circulating an air of exclusivity. Yes, venue maximums are imposed by law, but make it feel like it’s a limited offer that people want with intimate experiences catered to a few people. Use social media to remind your community how many tables you have free each day and encourage them not to miss out. When you do sell out, make sure to mention that too – this serves to increase the sense of urgency. Let your audience know when your offerings will be changing and to “grab a table tonight before we’re at capacity and you miss out on our current specials.”
Offer guests entertainment in addition to food, drinks, and ambiance, with drink-related games and activities. Trivia nights are a fun way to get guests involved from their tables and spending at the bar. Weekly or monthly trivia is a theme in and of itself that brings customers in the door and coming back for more fun. Drink check-lists and Bingo cards are fun ways to encourage guests to try all of (or a selection) of your drinks.
Self-serve stations connected to guests’ identification are a great opportunity for gamification through pouring. Individuals can track how much they have poured and work their way to higher statuses offered by your establishment. For example, once a guest has poured 25, 50, or 100 beers, it awards them Bronze, Silver, or Gold status which can come with perks of your choosing like swag, a discount, or a free beer.
Whether you implement one or all of these suggestions to optimize your venue for reduced capacity, Sestra’s TapWise technology can help. Learn more about self-serve stations and guest payment options HERE and contact us to discuss the best solutions for your venue.