Do you know I think the hospitality industry could learn a bit about planning from Adam the Gardener and the old Sunday Express picture guide to gardening? In particular, the Banqueting Department of any hotel or restaurant should consider the lessons to be learned from nature.
In my old edition the informative text and pictures go back pre World War 2 but, even with minor changes in Mother Nature and modern gardening techniques it’s still as relevant as it always was. I mean there are only twelve months in the year and so many ways to grow beans! Likewise there are only twelve months on the hospitality calendar with the certainty that only the right product or event sells well at a particular time of the year.
Let’s take a look inside. One of the first pages you come to in the book discusses Colour Harmony in the Garden. Adam writes “Garden beds and borders should be planned, as far as possible with a view to attaining colour harmony and contrast” I am sure that we could apply this to our hospitality business ensuring that our product and offers work well within the constraints placed on us by property, the skills of our teams and the values of our brands. Another point Adam makes is that “flowers of some colour prefer brilliant sunshine while other like shade or semi- shade” You could also say that some of the products we sell need more work than others, but together they make up an ideal arrangement for the year – a good sales mix.
Adam’s Gardening Calendar – ensure success throughout the year
The gardener is constantly working ahead preparing for events and seasons, sometimes even years in the future. So, as I mentioned in my last blog, start preparing the Christmas programme in January.
Prepare your seed beds.
It’s time for you to get the next two or even three years banqueting diaries off the shelf. Go through them fill in the inevitable events that happen every year. Find out where the empty days and nights are and plan how you are going to fill them.
Sow hardy annuals and sweet peas.
If you haven’t already done this then look back over the last five years conference and banqueting bookings. Are you getting repeat events? If not then get on the telephone to the organisers and find out why. Don’t be frightened, become the problem solver.
It’s a short growing season, particularly in Scotland. Consider starting off some of your summer vegetables in the greenhouse. Now you should be selling your Springtime and Summer wedding packages for at least two years in advance. Why not? Is it time to review and maybe re plan the “garden”
Bark-ring trees of vigorous growth to help develop fruiting spurs.
It’s soon going to be the time of year when commercial clients drift off and summer holidays are more important than making bookings. It’s time to make a quick courtesy call to last years Christmas Office Party bookers. Now I know it may seem like the wrong time of the year but there are in my opinion a few reasons for this course of action – reason one to get yourself on the radar, reason two to sort out any issues they had with their last booking (of course these should have been dealt with at the time but, we know what happens, don’t we?) reason three, well you might even get a provisional booking – if you do it’s a cause for a summer celebration of a bottle Asti and a couple of punnets of strawberries on the Boss !
Keep the hoe going during the dry weather. Cut off dead blooms, old stems and seed pods.
As you know enquiries drop off at this time of year so it’s time for a bit of housekeeping. Review next years wedding bookings. If there are any not confirmed with deposits then get on to them – if they pull out you might have chance of selling the date to one of this Summer’s Brides friends or relatives. If you don’t have it sorted out by now then make final arrangements for your Halloween package. The Christmas brochure should be at the printers.
Sow stocks for winter flowering. Propagate by pieces of root, anchusa, iris, bouvardia and ttoriental poppy.
In many establishments this is considered time for holidays amongst the banqueting sales staff. Pressure is off and the good placement student can hold the fort. But don’t forget it’s also time to start on Burns Night planning – find out – are the local club coming back again next year? AND yup I think it’s right to start figuring out what to do with Valentine’s Day. When does it fall? What are the package options? Can we sell dinner and accommodation next year or is it just one of those years for dinners? Does anyone every really make money from Valentines packages?
Feed Leeks with weak manure. Plant out Kale, Sprouting Broccoli and Winter Cabbage.
Although the banqueting telephone gets a bit busier at this time of the year the work carried out in August is an important month to ensure good results and even extra business at the turn of the year. You should be selling Christmas hard – put up your Christmas tree in the foyer now. Cover it with copies of your Christmas banqueting brochures. Have someone on hand over lunch times to deal with those office party enquiries.
Plant daffodils and crocuses for spring flowering. Take cuttings of Roses and Bedding plants. Lift and store carrots, marrows, onions and celeriac
Now by now you should be getting the idea. Its all about planning and preparation to make sure the garden – or your business is busy all year round.
Sweep up leaves to rot down. Clear up beds of summer flowers. Fork and manure where necessary. Prepare sites for new fruit trees.
Stand back and take a look where you are. If you have dates for weddings next year then you should be holding an autumn fair this month with a good promotion to get the dates away. Christmas should be full or filling well. Are you going to have to do promotion to fill up the last of the nights you have? Think about releasing extra nights. The most we did at the Lion D’Or was twenty – two nights on the trot a slack Christmas Eve(due to the day of the week – I recall it was a Friday) then straight into a four night package.
Prepare and plant herbaceous border. Protect cabbage and support Brussels sprouts.
It’s a bit like October really – just darker………..
Prepare new ground. Protect Christmas Roses. Remove suckers of fruit trees. Make a hot bed.
Here we go again. And you know what when you get it right it doesn’t change much any year. Take a good look back. Repeat it, Tweak it, Chuck it out, Innovate. Set the date for that Christmas planning meeting in January.
Adam would be proud!