The nation will once again be experiencing 48-hour long train strikes. However, this time the strikes are taking place during hospitalities most vital period.
The hospitality industry has been through turmoil in the past few years and has been fighting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. December has always been a fantastic period for our hospitality businesses, and once again the oncoming festive period was bringing hope, and a chance to uplift profit and make up for the quiet periods we have experienced.
Train strikes in the middle of December feels like a massive blow.
To put the strikes into perspective, Analysis by UKHospitality shows that the fresh wave of rail strikes set to hit the country in December will cost the sector £1.5 billion on strike days.
Unfortunately, the train strikes have been confirmed, so when are they happening? And what you can do as a hospitality business to prevent losing money because of them?
From RMT Press Office:
“Rail union, RMT will put on a series of 48 hour strikes in December and January after industry bosses failed to offer any new deals to reach a settlement. Over 40,000 members across Network and 14 Train Operating Companies will take strike action on 13, 14, 16 and 17 December and on January 3,4,6 and 7.”
What can you do?
The heaviest blow to the hospitality industry will take place between Tuesday 13th- Saturday 17th. It is time now to look at your business and put your plans into action so that you can prepare as much as possible.
If you have any customers which have already booked for the above dates, give them a call. Some may not be aware so it's best to be proactive and inform them of the strikes.
If this then makes them unable to come, offer them a different day. Your proactive service may keep them happy and keep the booking.
Push to Other Locations
Whilst speaking to your guests, ask where they are travelling from. If your business has additional locations, you could offer the guest to transfer their booking to somewhere closer.
Even if you cannot take the table yourself at least the customer will be happy with a suitable substitution, and you will still be supporting your company.
Think about Staff Travel
Your customers aren’t the only ones who will be facing the issues because of the strikes. Speak to your staff and understand which members are dependent on trains.
When you have this information, you need to plan your rota accordingly. There is no point scheduling a staff member who won’t be able to come in and will leave you short staffed.
Find Other Forms of Transport
Do some research into other forms of transportation. There could be a bus that does a similar route to the train, or perhaps contact some taxi firms about a collaboration.
When speaking to customers about their booking you can use this information to help them, tell them their options when on the phone and show them that you care and want them in your restaurant.
Encourage Walk Ins
As your far wide travellers will be sparse this is your time to focus on your local footfall. Leading up to the train strike days, do some local marketing.
Offer a promotion for your walk ins and drive those customers in!
Focus on Service
If you know your covers will be low, use this time to focus on your service and make those few customers that are coming in a reason to return.
It's Going to be Hard
Unfortunately, this is an inescapable truth. But being as prepared as possible gives your business the best chance at combatting the difficulty of the strikes.