Are you ready for a bank holiday sales boost?

Along with the big seasonal events that attract strong spend from consumers, the UK’s handful of bank holidays provide abundant opportunity for foodservice and licensed operators to tap into.

Reading time 6 minutes

An extra day off away from the daily norms has high appeal among Brits, who remain eager to leave the dark days of the pandemic behind them by making up for missed opportunities and experiences with friends and family during 2022.

Even before the dregs of Covid restrictions were lifted earlier this year, over 60% of consumers said they were looking forward to visiting a pub or restaurant as soon as they felt it was safe to do so. The same data also showed the younger generation and millennials are more eager than any other age group to enjoy themselves on-premise, with 47% of them saying so. On top of that, 30% of both men and women said they would visit pubs and restaurants more this year than prior to the pandemic.

Why go out?

  • 67% of consumers would go out for an adult’s birthday celebration
  • 32% would go out to celebrate Valentine’s Day
  • 30% would go out to celebrate Mother’s Day
  • 26% would go out to celebrate a child’s birthday
  • 24% would go out to celebrate Father’s Day
  • 24% would go out to celebrate New Year’s Eve

All of this adds up to busy days on the horizon, but with upcoming bank holidays providing punters with more of an excuse to go out and have fun, operators have a duty to do all they can to entice customers into their venues.

Customers eager to come out into the on-premise can be further satisfied through simple offers and promotions, with 34% saying special deals on food will get them over the threshold of their homes and into a pub or restaurant.

A further quarter said special drinks deals would entice them from their sofas, with the same number saying events such as music and quiz nights appealed to them. A smaller number of customers desired a more personal approach, with 18% saying they’d be tempted to visit a pub, bar or restaurant if they’d received an invitation-style email to go to a venue.

Therefore, operators should ensure special offers on food and drinks form part of their bank holiday planning, including deals such as a free soft drink with a burger; banqueting packages of sliders, fries, chicken wings and ice buckets of packaged soft drinks; as well as ice buckets of bottled beers or pitchers of mocktails at special prices.


Be prepared! 

It is also important to consider factors preventing fun-seeking consumers from visiting a pub, bar or restaurant. Although operators can do little about it, 40% of consumers asked said bad weather would see them choose staying at home over going out. To circumvent this, operators with garden shelters and heaters should focus on these assets in their marketing and social media campaigns, especially for spring and summer bank holidays. Consider making fun of the ‘typical’ British summer and use phrases such as ‘we’ve got you covered’ alongside images of your venue’s gazebos and marquees.

A further 34% of consumers claimed difficult reservation systems or “hassle” getting to a venue would put them off visiting. To ensure healthy bookings over bank holiday weekends, pub and restaurant operators should have simple booking systems in place for potential customers to reserve tables. If an online booking system is in place, ensure it operates smoothly and websites and social media have clear instructions on how to book. Always offer an alternative booking method, such as a telephone number or social media handle and ensure there is time and recourse dedicated to cover this and look after all bookings to ensure none are lost.

10 steps to launching a social media campaign

1. Write down what it is you want to achieve – i.e. to sell 50 tickets per bank holiday event

2. Set out your timeline by working backwards from the event and plot in key metrics, such as selling 25 tickets before the campaign is halfway through

3. Understand which social media channels will work hardest for you. For example, Facebook might receive more interactions, such as comments and therefore lead to more sales. Also consider which of your platforms has a stronger following

4. Come up with a consistent design that aligns with the event and which all social posts will use e.g. try using free platform Canva to create graphics

5. Ensure the same design and messaging is available offline, such as posters in your venue or flyers in other local businesses (again, you can utilise Canva for this!)

6. Look at other local social media groups to see where you can cross promote your event. Ask local and regular customers to like and share your posts too

7. Launch your campaign with the right messaging and imagery and include key information such as the price, timings and what the event is

8. Post about the event at least once a day, but also post about other things in the venue so followers don’t feel like they’re being spammed

9. Check at least twice per day for messages and comments on posts and reply where necessary

10. Track and measure the success of each element of the campaign to understand and learn what worked and what didn’t work for future social media activities. Look at the timings of successful posts, what wording received more attention, etc…


Location, location, location

When it comes to location, outlets should provide clear directions to their venue online, as well as a map location. Consider providing car parking, train and bus information, as well as details for local taxi firms. Certain outlets could also consider brokering special deals with taxi companies for their customers.

Aside from the weather and booking into a venue, a further 20% of customers claimed they’d prefer to have a takeaway at home or even meet their friends on a Zoom call rather than visit a pub, bar or restaurant. However, on-premise has the upper hand in being able to provide an unbeatable experience that can’t be recreated in a home setting. Tempt customers from their homes through social media with mouth-watering images of drinks and food and people enjoying themselves in sunny pub gardens to show what they’re missing out on by staying indoors. Such a tactic is proven to work, as 15% of consumers asked said they’d visit a venue if they saw other people there through social media.

Alternatively, operators can continue to play into the demand for takeaways by developing special bank holiday spreads for customers who would like to stay at home, but still want to indulge in the convenience of pre-prepared food and drink. Ensure takeaway menus are themed to the specific bank holiday and contain premium soft drinks as well as mocktails that can be made and/or enjoyed at home.

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