To most ordinary people, Christmas is six months away. However to anyone working in hospitality, our minds have already decided on what Christmas campaign we will be launching, what our festive cocktail menu will consist of - and most importantly, how we’ll be decorating our tree this year! If you’re working in hospitality, whether it’s a hotel, bar or restaurant, it’s vital that you are ready and prepared for the festive season now. We’ve revealed some of the reasons why your winter campaign should have already started, some of the benefits it will have on your business in the long-term and how you can start promoting it.
People buy early
Research carried out by The National Retail Federation (NRF) shows that “each year about 40 percent of consumers begin their holiday shopping before Halloween”; and the same applies to hospitality. If you want to push and promote a successful Christmas, whether it’s those sold-out Christmas party nights or the festive family lunch on boxing day, you need to think like a customer, and act fast. They want to prepare for this well in advance to ensure that their seat in your venue is reserved for them. For those brands that aren’t already promoting Christmas, or even thinking about it, chances are you have already lost that potential customer to a competitor brand, who were efficient, organised and ready to take on guest bookings for this period. Brands such as Asda and Tesco are the perfect example of being prepared to meet their customer's needs, by having their Easter Eggs, Valentine’s Gifts and Halloween outfits available to buy up to 3 months before.
Consider your audience before you promote
If you are trying to attract business Christmas parties to your event, then you could already be working on email campaigns to woo agents and your point of contacts to join you to celebrate. They are the target audience who will want to hear about the Christmas events you’ll be hosting, but posting on social media channels daily and updating your Facebook and Twitter banners to Christmas themes just might be too much. Instead, gradually mention it now and again, and slowly build this up monthly. By early November, it should be in full-swing with your audience aware of everything you'll be promoting and hosting.
Planning is key
When launching any seasonal campaign, you must always remember than planning is key to it being successful. It’s important that you plan how the campaign will work, update relevant content on your website, showcase marketing materials both around your venue and digitally and to also have a content calendar which you can plan when you’ll send out your email campaigns and social media posts. It’s also vital to ensure that all team members within your venue are fully aware of the activities that you’ll be running throughout Christmas - and for them to upsell these at any opportunity they can.
Products and packages
When it comes to creating offers for your guests, ensure that you have your creative head on to give them something new and fun this Christmas. If you have returning clientele, it’s important that each year you give them a service that they simply can’t get tired off. Consider if you really want to do that traditional Christmas dinner; why not create new packages such as a Festive Afternoon Tea, and replace those Christmas parties with Festive Cocktail making? It keeps it fun, engaging and may help you attract a new audience, and will give them a day, or night, to remember forever. It’s also important that the products you’ll be promoting come winter will be pushed out on social, through marketing materials such as flyers or brochures - and that all the team within your venue are fully aware of the upcoming products so that again, they can try and upsell these to new potential customers who may be considering spending this lovely occasion with you.
Entertainment needs to be booked
Whether it’s a DJ for all the Christmas party nights, or that Father Christmas that will be joining kids for a festive breakfast, hospitality venues need to pre-book their entertainment well in advance -otherwise you could miss out on the best ones out there as they will get booked up quickly by other venues leaving you in a bit of a panic! The same goes for turning your venue into a winter wonderland, you need to consider who will style it to bring the magic of Christmas to life! If you’re looking for fabulous entertainment, or a team of professionals that will deliver the perfect Christmas for you, we’d highly recommend Springbank flowers and also The Big Event Group.
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With the cost of weddings on the up, it’s no surprise that brides and grooms to be are looking at ways to bring it down. In the past couple of months, couples are letting their creative sides run wild - whether that’s hand-crafting their own invitations or making their own centrepieces for their wedding breakfasts. One of our favourite trends that we are loving is shaking up the traditional food that comes out at every, single wedding! We thought we’d share our top picks on some of the quirky food trends that brides are loving this year…
As tradition stands, each wedding guest will receive a small favour to thank them for attending the wedding. But today’s brides are spicing this up, and replacing these with incredible Doughnut Walls (if you’re always on Instagram like us, then you’ve probably already spotted these). Over the past year, they’ve proved massively popular and can suit any wedding, for any budget. We love that everyone will enjoy it - from the kids to grandads! Plus, they’ll make your wedding one for everybody to remember!
Victoria Sponge Cake
Wedding cakes are iconic; hey you’ve got to get a load of pictures with your new husband or wife cutting that all important slice of cake…(which can be quite boring, sorry). Many brides are jazzing their cakes up and replacing those ice tier cakes - complete with husband and wife decorations on the top - and replacing them with Victoria Sponge Cakes. It’s such a simple concept, but the results of how they can look can be AMAZING. You can add flowers to it, macaroons, or even cat biscuits if that floats your boat...
Increasing popular for socialising and now also weddings is the Afternoon Tea which has already started replacing those three-course sit-down wedding breakfasts. Instead of a heavy meal, brides are bringing out the best of British with a true English Afternoon Tea complete with sandwiches and freshly baked cakes - and of course, plenty of tea, coffee and champagne! It’s perfect for those cosy intimate weddings...
What food trends are you loving? Let us know over on Twitter #gbloves
Whether it’s a first date or a special anniversary, there’s no better way to celebrate than in a cosy restaurant or bar with your other half. Luckily, we have plenty of romantic places to visit in the North West that offer seclusion, and very atmospheric settings (yes, Gusto at the Albert Dock, we are talking about you)! Sometimes, we need to just sit back, relax and enjoy each other's company. We’ve rounded up some of the most romantic restaurants and bars from Europe; some of which we’ve been lucky enough to try!
Pod Aniolami, Krakow, Poland
Krakow, Poland, is without doubt one of the most romantic cities in the world. During your time there, you’ll see loved up couples walking around hand in hand taking in the sights, enjoying late night horse and cart rides - or watching the local men buying a single rose for their date. The city offers a gorgeous selection of restaurants and cafes, with one in particular, offering the perfect setting - Pod Aniolami - also known as Under the Angels. It’s medieval decor, candle-lit tables and extremely intimate setting combine to make you feel as though you are the only two diners in the whole of Krakow. The food menu is divine and you can enjoy a true taste of Polish cuisine. It’s an incredible experience, with locals believing that there are, indeed, angels in its Gothic cellars.
Buza Bar, Dubrovnik, Croatia
Dubrovnik is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and offers plenty to see and do (especially if you’re into Game of Thrones and delicious, creamy ice creams)! Walk the cobbled streets, and tour the castle walls during the day, but when early evening arrives head to Buza Bar which is the only bar hidden away in the city walls. It offers breathtaking views across the stunning and tranquil Adriatic Sea, where you can watch the glistening sunset disappear into the never ending horizon. It’s one of those perfect moments that you’ll remember forever...
Tapas Bar 28, Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon is full of cosy little streets, leading you down mysterious paths that are lined with intimate bars and restaurants. If you’ve ever visited, then you’ll know that finding where you want to eat and drink will be difficult as there’s just so much choice! For those of you that love Alfresco dining, head to Tapas Bar 28 and enjoy a late night bite to eat. You’ll be seated on cushions outside the restaurant, on the beautifully paved floor outside, where you can listen to Latin - inspired music in the background.
And remember, the most special moments may be meal or a spontaneous occurrence - grab a baguette, some ham and snacks from the local supermarket and head down the beach for sunset and a night that ends under the stars.
As we know, social media is one of the biggest influencers across many industries; and especially within hospitality. It’s one of the quickest and easiest ways to engage directly with customers, whether that’s promoting the latest service or product, or whether it’s making them buy into the brand by perhaps just simply liking your company Facebook page.
For the past couple of years, social media has continued to expand, with many people turning to it as their first port of call when checking out the latest restaurant, bar or hotel. Because of this, it’s vital that your brand gets it right, at all times, as at the end of the day, your posts are what can turn those visitors into real-life customers. Here’s our top three tips on how you can get it right for your hospitality social channel..
An active presence
You’ll have a better chance of engaging users and spiking interest if you’re seen to have a very active presence across social media. Multiple posts each day is a great start, as is quickly replying to any questions or comments that users may be have. Take Facebook’s recently-added ‘Typically responds in’ features, which allows users to see how long it takes for a page-owner to respond to a message.
If you’re quick to respond - and this is made clear to Facebook users - they’re more likely to drop you a message around a pressing question or query that they may have; looking to book that table in your restaurant or that spontaneous hotel getaway for the night, in a very short space of time.
Being active across social media also shows that you're enthusiastic about your offering and are keen for customers and guests to enjoy their visit with you. They’ll likely to engage with you more frequently, and you’re messaging will likely resonate better if you’re posting at least 2-3 times a day. Remember, it doesn’t look great if you’re last tweet or Facebook post was from 2012!
Great customer service
It ties into the above, but ensuring that your customer service across social is of the highest standard now goes without saying. People use their preferred platforms - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. - to now directly engage with their favourite brands, restaurants they’re interested in visiting and hotels they’ll look to enjoy.
Whether you receive a question about opening times, a complaint about service, or a complement about that delicious dish that was eaten last night, be sure to handle all engagement in a pleasant, on-brand manner. It show you care about your customs, value their customer, and acknowledge the good (and bad!) parts of your offering.
Creative and engaging content
So not only is social a platform for directly engaging with users, it’s a vehicle for you to showcase what you have to offer. You want users to see just how great your dishes look or how fantastic your hotel rooms are; a combination of inspiring copy, vivid imagery and immersive video will all help to achieve this across the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Creating a content plan can be one of the most of fun parts of developing your social strategy. The creative content that you’ll be looking to be post can also be pre-scheduled, allowing you to set what is published weeks in advance! It’s takes the burden off you having to manage too much each, and allows more time to respond to those customer questions and comments that you’re likely to receives.
Your post should seek to engage users at all times; try not to be too generic, and perhaps but a fun or cheeky twist on your approach (only if it’s on brand and in line with your tone-of-voice, mind!). Stunning imagery generally gets great engagement rates, as does video. Remember, the role of your posts will likely be to raise brand awareness, increase enquires and, ultimately, drive bookings. With this in mind, be sure to include those all-important calls-to-action; directing people to your website, or providing contact information.
In today’s digital world, it’s vital that social media is central to your overarching approach to the marketing of your product and engaging with users.
Finally Summer in England has arrived! This week, parts of the UK are said to have been hotter than Mexico - and even Turkey. If you’re like us, you may be feeling a bit burnt from overindulging in the sun, and perhaps a bit full from enjoying one too many BBQs with friends. One way we love to cool down in this heat is to enjoy a ice lolly - one preferably with a bit of alcoholic in it. We thought we’d take advantage of this lovely weather and share with you three easy-to-make ice lollies that’ll make Fabs and Twisters a thing of the past…
Bring a sense of the beautiful English summer to your ice lolly with the ‘Flower Garden’. It’s made with a selection of edible flowers, including roses and marigolds, which look incredibly beautiful when they are suspended underneath the ice. They make the perfect choice for picnics in the park and those spontaneous summer garden parties.
120g Granulated sugar
240ml of Champagne (use flat Champagne as it works much better)!
1tbsp of lemon juice
½ tablespoons blossom or rose water
Handful of edible flowers or petals
Simply put the sugar and 480ml of water in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves, take off the heat, then add the champagne - don’t drink it in the process though - and then add in the lemon juice and rose water. Place your edible flowers into ice lolly moulds but don’t fill them to the top, then let them freeze overnight. Perfect and delicious…
Pimms Ice Lollies
Who doesn’t love a glass of refreshing Pimm’s on a hot sunny day? Well, we’ve got good news for you, not only do they make the ultimate drink - but they also make a great ice lolly for us grown ups!
What you’ll need:
10 mint leaves
100g Golden Caster Sugar
20 thin slice of cucumbers which are cut in quarters
A quick and easy recipe - add the strawberries and mint leaves in a blender until it has gone smooth and use a fine mesh strainer to remove any seeds. Then add your Pimm’s, lemonade and sugar until this has been dissolved. Add the cucumber pieces into a lolly mould and top with the smooth strawberry mixture. Leave for 30 - 45 minutes and then add a lolly stick in for up to four hours until they are completely frozen; then it’s Pimm’s away!
Chocolate ice lolly
If you don’t fancy an alcoholic cocktail, we’ve got you covered in the form of a simple yet luxurious, chocolate ice lolly, perfect for those with a sweet tooth…
What you’ll need…
500ml whole milk
250ml double cream
150g good-quality dark chocolate, finely chopped
65-75g granulated sugar (depending on the sweetness of your chocolate)
2 tsp vanilla extract
Pour the milk and cream into a pan and bring it to a simmer, then remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate and sugar, mixing it until it’s blended. Add the vanilla and leave the mixture to cool. The longer you leave it, the smoother and creamier your ice lolly will be. If you fancy going all out, simply add some chocolate sauce over it before freezing for that extra bit of taste - amazing!
The Queen. She embodies everything that it means to be British. You can only have to think of her to conjure up images of great palaces, the union flag, corgis, Charles, Will, Harry, Prince Philip - ah we could go on and on. But let us stop there, because it’s almost Her Majesty’s birthday - and we don’t want to miss it!
For those of you who don’t know, the queen celebrates two birthdays each year - her actual birthday falls on April 21st - and her royal official birthday takes place on a Saturday in every June. During the official one, a parade is carried out to celebrate the day. This year, there will be a incredible flyby over the palace with a number of aircrafts, including a Chinook, Typhoons, Tornado's and a Hawk T1 to represent the Red Arrows.
And as we all well know, The Queen is one truly remarkable lady, and one truly remarkable character! We’ve found from watching documentaries, or reading articles on her that she has plenty of traits that only she could manage to get away with. To mark Her Majesty’s 91st birthday, we’d thought we’d reveal some of The Queen’s top eating and drinking habits that have occurred during her reign!
We are big fans of Man Vs Food and we are always inspired by the monstrous challenges that are taken. But it got us thinking that sometimes on dish just isn’t enough! We’ve compiled a list of the most popular joints around the North West where you can take on a real foodie challenge & indulge in some of the most delicious delights on offer…
Red Dog Saloon, Liverpool
Across the past couple of days, there’s been plenty of talk about Liverpool’s Red Dog Saloon’s Chicken Challenge. Guests have to eat six spicy chicken wings covered with Naga Viper chilli sauce (500 times hotter than jalapenos) within ten minutes - before taking a five minute cooling off period before having any drink - including water. But, if you succeed, you’ll always have your photo on the wall of fame. Definitely one for the brave!
Infamous Diner, Manchester
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, then the Infamous Diner’s 21 Pancake Challenge is perfect for you! For £25, guests will receive 21 pancakes which are topped with the most amazing flavours - including nutella, candy bacon, and chocolate chip ice cream. Amazing! They give you 30 minutes to eat all 21, and if you do, you’ll dine for free, get a t-shirt and again, get your name on their wall of fame.
Santa Maluco pizza, Liverpool
If you’re hungover from a heavy weekend, the best way to cure this is by eating pizza isn’t it? Every Sunday, Santa Maluco in Liverpool runs the Sunday Slice Challenge which allows guests to eat as many slices as they can for £10. Apparently, the highest amount that’s even been eaten was 15 slices...but we’re willing to take that on!
We love a good full English breakfast, and we must say this challenge sounds like our idea of heaven! O’Deli’s in Manchester offers an incredible 8,000 calories in it’s Monster Mega Breakfast which is made up of 4 eggs, 5 pieces of toast, 8 strips of bacon, 4 sausages and a full tin of beans. Surprisingly, it’s only a tenner - and worth every penny. However, if there’s room in your belly to eat it all, you can win yourself a free breakfast.
Share with us your top foodie challenges! #gbloves
Scrap any plans you have this weekend, and do the right thing...get to the nearest bar to celebrate World Gin Day! Although we’d quite happily celebrate this every day, we pulled together some of the best events that are taking place in and around the capital...perfect for getting people in the spirit! Check them out…
A Gin Treasure Hunt
Jasmine Gin brand, Willem Barentsz, are holding a treasure hunt which takes Gin lovers on a tour of some of London’s best cocktail bars - with a chance to sample a selection of Barentsz inspired cocktails. There’s four bars taking part in it, with guests having to search for a map to compete for the prize - which is a trip anywhere in the world. London, anyone?
Pop-up Gin and Tonic Ice cream bar
This Summer, Shoreditch’s Hoxton Hotel is opening a pop- up gin and tonic ice cream bar to celebrate the occasion - and let’s be honest, we can’t think of anything better than boozy ice cream on a hot day! During the event which will be running from the 9th - 11th June, they’ll be serving gin cocktails for £5 with a free G&T ice cream. Perfect.
Beefeater Gin to Hot speakeasy party
If you’re in London, head to one of the coolest Gin events that we’ve ever heard of - a speakeasy party in Beefeater Gins distillery. There will be a selection of performances from singers, songwriters and magicians which will be there for when it turns into a hidden speakeasy. Guests who attend will enjoy a selection of cocktails for the event, and will receive a tour of the distillery.
How will you be celebrating World Gin Day this Saturday?
Let’s face it, we’re all going to need a stiff drink after voting on Thursday. The parties are complex and inconsistent , the candidates in some cases are questionable , but as free citizens we all have the duty to cast our ballot and shape the political landscape for the next five years. I know, I know, we are getting heavy - that’s why we’ve compiled a list of our favourite ‘party’ cocktails so you can subtly fly your flag when you’re out and about on election day!
For the tories out there, the Electric Iced Tea Cocktail is a conservative choice for those wetting their whistle. A combination of vodka, rum, tequila and gin, it’s zesty vibe is a sure fire way to reduce the strong and stable control you have on yourself on a night out.
For all the Corbynistas out there, the Strawberry Daiquiri is a hard-working delight that combines rum and lime juice into a truly magnificent fruity taste. It’s certainly charismatic, but after a couple you start doubting its true values and become concerned about what the future may hold.
A real left-field choice that’s usually confined to your summer holiday, or a weekend at the beach, a Pina Colada is a real supporting option to the rest of your evening tipples. One is plenty enough but you never know how much power it might have ending up over you.
The Green Party
Who doesn’t love a hearty, healthy choice? The mojito brings with it refreshing vibes, and a true taste of mother nature. Best served extremely chilled, without the risk of (global) warming. It won’t be a winner on the night, but you may be glad you’ve chose it over all the options out there.
Party politics is all fun and games; let’s face it, we can’t control what the future holds but we can control what the next drink in our hand is going to be. Show your colours proudly this election day, and be sure to make your vote (and beverage choice) count.
We all enjoy a martini, a sex on the beach or a cosmopolitan. But as our taste buds become too accustomed to these usual flavours, isn’t it about time we take a walk on the wild side and try a drink with a twist this summer. We’ve rounded up a selection of the most adventurous tastes currently doing the round on the bar scene. Now you may have to give the bartender some instruction on these less known delights, but we are sure they’ll go down a treat - no matter how they are made up!
Red Velvet Shortcake
A cake flavoured vodka? Yes, please! If you’ve got a sweet tooth, then you’ll absolutely love the Red Velvet Shortcake - which is made with cake flavoured vodka, Red Velvet Zing. It’s one of the sweetest cocktails around - and much more exciting than a strawberry daiquiri! Simply pop two strawberries in a cocktail shaker, add vodka, lemon juice and shake well - and garnish with a strawberry.
Ingredients you’ll need…
1 1/2 ounces Red Velvet Zing Vodka
2 ounces of Creme Soda
Splash of Lemon Juice
Hot N Sassy
For the more daring, sample the Hot N Sassy cocktail is complete with one of the spiciest ingredients you could imagine; jalapenos. We know, we’ve never thought about adding one of these into anything we’ve ever drank before - we are more accustomed to have them on our nachos! But we are always willing to try something new, and this tongue tickling delight will be a true wake up for your senses this summer.
Ingredients you’ll need…
1 ounce of pucker vodka sour apple
3 slices of jalapenos
2 slices of clementines
Splash of lime juice
1 ounce of lemon-lime soda
The Gold Rush
Who wouldn’t love a cocktail with the word ‘gold’ in its title! This little tickle goes down a treat and is a real joy for the palate whether you’ve just eaten or between your other nightly drinks. It’s sweet, tangy and strong - a real summery pleasure for when you’re out and about over the next couple of months.
Ingredients you’ll need…1 ounce of Buffale trace bourbon
A dash of Honey syrup
½ cup fresh lemon juice
4 spring fresh mint (for garnishing)
The Half Windsor
We are big advocates of cocktails that aren’t made up of your usual mixes - lemonade, soda, and the like. So we sampled the half windsor and were presented with a glass of cucumber juice, we were pleasantly surprised by its summer, refreshing tang. A perfect choice for an evening in the garden...served chilled for the perfect taste.
Ingredients you’ll need…
1 ounce of Voli Vodka
3 / 4 ounces of fresh cucumber juice
1/ 2 ounce of agave nectar
1/ 2 ounce of lime juice
Plenty of ice
Cucumber slices (for garnishing)