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Whether you're operating a bar, restaurant, festival or nightclub, it is easy to overlook the times when you would ordinarily not trade as the price of being in hospitality.
Buildings still need to be maintained, rates paid, staffing overheads and food and beverage costs met. But the truth is there are often local groups, charities and businesses crying out for interesting and novel spaces to host them. ‘Dead time' on weekday mornings, for instance, or outside of core trading hours are perfect opportunities for showcasing your offer to these groups – sometimes for decent reward – as well as the benefits to staff and suppliers in terms of wages and sales.
Don't simply think about replicating your core business at these times. Often a little lateral thinking, such as providing space for board meetings or regional team meetings with lunches, can be a steady means of earning additional revenue. Other groups might need space for training sessions or for local colleges looking to give students better insight into hospitality.
Providing ‘safe spaces' for minority groups and charities to meet can be rewarding in ways other than simply financially. Premises with good music systems, lights and open spaces can even be used for hosting award ceremonies – many organisations have them! Those looking for a less energetic daytime operation could consider opening a deli or produce store for locals and local producers. Spend a little time looking into what could be out there and you may find the list of potential opportunities is pretty much endless.
We all appreciate that leisure spend is squeezed during hardship and with the current headwinds, customers are looking for more for their money. This means that there are opportunities for those businesses able to offer packages that customers would consider as either value for money or something that meets all their needs for a night out.
A simple drinks and dinner offer, if combined with some form of entertainment, can be a good selling point and is likely to retain customers for longer at a premises. Putting on events specifically to attract customers in combination with dinner packages will minimise the risk of the additional expenditure.
The trend for experiential nights out has not dimmed, so perhaps think further outside of the box and add in games nights, tournaments, or some element of competitive socialising into your offer to attract customers. If properly marketed on social media, the benefits can extend beyond the events themselves and increase customer awareness of your business in general.
Often there is little change that's needed from a regulatory perspective, although do check the following:
None of the above should be insurmountable and if there is a decent demand, then there would be value in looking at amending the necessary permissions.
Bricks and mortar venues are the essential lifeblood of communities, and this means that for the enterprising operator there may be opportunities to use what you have that the online world cannot – space to meet and celebrate together. All it might take is a little imagination.
This article was first published by The Caterer.
10 July 2023