If festive season group bookings for “the big four” at your club venue are not already at 60 per cent capacity then now is the time to ramp up your marketing. That is according to ResDiary, with statistics from 2021 showing 60.2 per cent of bookings for “the big four” – Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day – were made at least one month prior to the event.
A further 25 per cent of bookings come in on average 1-4 weeks prior to the four big festive season days, the figures indicate.
And while 2022 is expected to be a bumper holiday season for bookings, data analysis by Stefan Overzier, ResDiary’s APAC Head of Customer Success and Support, shows that clubs can look to generate higher returns from the holiday season by looking at booking patterns.
The new data shows almost half (43%) of all December 2022 bookings already made in hospitality venues around Australia have been snapped up by function and group booking organisers.
“What we are noticing across the venues is that people are starting to book a little further out, but at larger numbers,” said Clayton Ries, Director of Colin Fassnidge’s signature restaurant Fassnidge at The Castlereagh Club in Sydney.
“They are then contacting us to reduce their original booking size down at the last minute. This has certainly made it a little challenging to maximise our capabilities efficiently and effectively in the silly season.
“The positive is that it has made more people aware that they really do need to book in with the places they want to go to, even if it’s just for just a drink, reducing the overall number and manageability of walk-ins.”
Kylie Newlyn, Operations Manager at Renmark Club in South Australia, says having a visual of festive season bookings is crucial at this time of year.
“Our online booking system is used to visualise the tables we have vacant per service, giving us greater time efficiency,” she said. “It also allows us to reconfigure bookings so that table joins are overlapped, which saves us physically reconfiguring the floor plan any more than necessary.”
But cancellations still occur, so ResDiary suggests requesting a deposit or prepayment and keeping a wait-list for larger group booking requests. Cancellations are a problem Newlyn is currently facing at the Renmark Club.
“This year’s festive season is unfortunately completely different to the previous year, she said. “With the Riverland currently being in a flood warning, we have noticed a definite drop off within our dining numbers as a lot of people are afraid to visit the region in fear we are flooded.”
That may also mean a last-minute push from marketing.
“We are still open and are hoping that people will return to the Riverland area as soon as the flood risk dissipates to give their support to our local community,” she said. “While we don’t use the diary for marketing needs at this point it is something we would look to do in the future.”
But it is something that Fassnidge’s Ries is utilising.
“When we see gaps or differences in the normal flow of bookings via the online booking system, we then utilise our database or social media accounts to push different promotions to help bring more people through the doors on those specific dates,” he said. “It is important to not be too ’knee-jerk’ with your social media programming, but we have found there are effective ways to increase real-time trade.”
Top 4 tips for ’the big four’
ResDiary’s Overzier said there are four key ways for hospitality venues to optimise their overall performance by using data-informed planning.
1) Focus on smaller groups and couples because, as of early November, 43.7 per cent of the December 2022 bookings already taken by ResDiary have been for groups of 6+ guests.
2) The big four days will be booked a month in advance. If your club is on track, pre-bookings should now sit at 60 per cent of total bookings. A week out, it should be 85 per cent to make “the big four” a financial success.
3) ResDiary data for 2022 shows that a third of group bookings requiring cancellation gave at least a week’s notice. For smaller groups of four or less, only 18.7 per cent cancelled with a week’s notice, creating greater certainty for staff scheduling.
4) While dinner is still the preferred booking session for groups, ResDiary anticipates venues should prepare for 50-60 per cent more diners in groups during their dinner service than they will see for lunch service. However, there is the opportunity to push functions to an earlier start time to allow for two sittings.