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6 Tips for a Smoother Holiday Season

In an industry where guest satisfaction, positive reviews, and word-of-mouth recommendations are paramount, the holiday season becomes a critical period; a single negative experience can deter customers permanently.
bell on a hotel front desk during holiday
To navigate this challenging period, it is essential to have strategies in place that streamline operations, alleviate stress and ensure a seamless experience for both staff and customers.
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The holiday season places substantial demands on the hospitality industry. Restaurants and hotels experience a sudden influx of demand, coupled with last-minute reservations and special requests. 

To navigate this challenging period, it's essential to have strategies in place that streamline operations, alleviate stress, and ensure a seamless experience for both your staff and customers. Here are some valuable tips to help you stay ahead during the holiday rush and meet holiday demand.

1. Incorporate seasonal staffing into your planning

It’s safe to assume that between seasonal illness going around and team members wanting to take time with their families, you will need additional staff to stay operational through the holiday season. 

To address this surge, begin recruiting and training temporary staff well in advance. Announce your seasonal hiring needs early and target high school and college students returning home for the break before the holiday rush begins. This proactive approach not only helps maintain the high standards of your establishment but also reduces the stress and workload on your existing employees during the busiest time of the year. 

2. Simplify the process of handling time-off requests

As you consider adding seasonal staff, make sure you still prioritize your existing team. Offer your full-time and year-round employees the first choice of shifts and take the initiative to inquire about their preferences regarding overtime and vacation days. Keep in mind that some employees may welcome the opportunity to earn extra income, while others may have kids home from school or family members visiting and want more time off. 

Make a concerted effort to facilitate schedule adjustments and grant time off whenever feasible. By placing a premium on your team's well-being and work-life balance, you cultivate a positive workplace environment that leads to better customer service and long-term employee retention. 

3. Boost morale whenever possible

Use the holidays as an opportunity to proactively boost morale among your staff. Recognize that they will be putting in extra effort to meet heightened demand, and their attitudes directly impact customer service and experiences. Motivate your team with holiday bonuses, expedited tip payouts, and gift cards that allow them to enjoy a night's stay at your hotel or a meal out with their families, compliments of your establishment. Even simple gestures like coffee gift cards or treats in the breakroom can go a long  way in celebrating your team's dedication and hard work during the holiday season, fostering a positive atmosphere that benefits both employees and guests. It’s also important to build that relationship with seasonal team members as well. While they may depart right after the busy season, maintaining those connections can allow you to build a potential talent pool for the spring and summer holidays along with future employee referrals. 

4. Optimize efficiency with digital payouts

During a chaotic holiday rush year, your time and energy are two of the most valuable resources you have. The last thing you want after a busy night is to stay late counting tips. Not to mention the risk in moving large amounts of cash around between venues and the bank—this is an easy way for cash to go missing. 

A more streamlined and secure solution is to embrace digital payouts. This allows you to pay your employees instantly, offering a valuable benefit, particularly to seasonal workers and those who put in overtime. By providing quick access to their payroll, employees can better manage their holiday expenses, from gift shopping to bill payments. Consider a solution that also facilitates instant mileage reimbursement, as it can be especially advantageous for businesses with catering and delivery teams that extend their services beyond the restaurant's premises. This shift toward digital payouts not only optimizes your workflow but also enhances security and convenience during the demanding holiday season.

5. Stock up on extra supplies in advance

Holiday shipping costs can soar, and delivery times may lag due to the increased pressure on postal services. Prior to the holiday rush, ensure you've placed orders for additional food, alcohol, or any necessary business supplies and maintain a well-stocked inventory.

It may also be the time to make a few upgrades you’ve been dreaming about. Whether you need to replace dishwashers or acquire additional spa beds to accommodate higher demand, now could be the ideal time for such investments. Give your team ample time to familiarize themselves with new equipment, ensuring a smooth transition and flawless operation. This proactive approach not only enhances your operational efficiency but also contributes to a better holiday experience for your customers.

6. Maintain flexibility in your operations

Even the best-laid plans can encounter unexpected challenges and changes. Acknowledging this inherent unpredictability and embracing adaptability is essential. Whether it's sudden fluctuations in reservations, unforeseen staff shortages, or evolving customer preferences, a flexible approach allows you to pivot swiftly and effectively. By being prepared to adjust schedules, menus, and services as needed, you can ensure that your hospitality business remains responsive and resilient, providing an exceptional experience for your guests, no matter the circumstances. 

Regardless of the nature of your hospitality business, it's important to acknowledge that the holidays can be a time of added pressure, stress, and demand. However, with adequate preparation—including seasonal hiring strategies and streamlined payments—you can make this holiday season feel more manageable and enjoyable for everyone involved.


About the Author

Atif Siddiqi is the founder and CEO of Branch, a workforce payments platform. Branch helps companies compete for workers by enabling instant payments, cashless tips, and other financial services with easy to launch solutions. Atif has been recognized as one of Employee Benefit News’ Top 20 Digital Innovators in Benefits and EY Entrepreneur of the Year: Heartland. 

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