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Lockdown Valentine’s – How businesses can serve up romance during the pandemic

Lockdown Valentine’s

Valentine’s Day is an ideal opportunity for businesses to try out new ideas and to reel in customers that are trying to impress their significant other. From restaurants offering candlelit dinners through to red rose delivery services and even novelty experiences, 14th February is normally a lucrative date in the commercial calendar. 

As with many other celebrations, though, the COVID-19 pandemic and resultant lockdown measures look set to put a dampener on 2021’s romantic festivities. Restaurants are unable to open, the public cannot feasibility travel to beauty spots, and there are certainly no loved-up jaunts to Paris on the cards. Under such trying circumstances, it is difficult to see how businesses can turn a profit from those couples who are trying to celebrate. 

As the big day creeps closer and closer, here are some of the best ideas that businesses could try out to keep Cupid’s arrows flying (and the money rolling in) this Valentine’s day.

Home dining done the right way

For restaurants and cafes, the UK’s lockdown measures have been devastating. Being unable to open their doors for one of the busiest nights of the year is undoubtedly difficult but also deeply disappointing. Valentine’s day plans usually centre around a slap-up meal by candlelight, but this year the kitchens will be closed and the tables empty. 

For those hospitality businesses that are still able to operate, it might be time to start looking at whether it would be feasible to offer a Valentine’s takeaway menu. You could even jump onto the trendy ‘at home’ scene that so many major chains have capitalised on by doing the main preparation (say, for a starter, main, and desert), leaving your clients with nothing left to do but put their kit in the over and wait as it cooks. 

It’s an easy way to continue serving your diners even during the pandemic, and there’s likely to be a real market for it this year since people can’t get out and about (and are probably sick of their own home cooking anyway!). 

Bring the silver screen to them

Another stalwart of the Valentine’s day scene is the cinema – but again, people can’t flock to see the latest films this year, and many of them have had their releases postponed anyway (007, anyone?). 

To turn an otherwise ordinary product into something a little bit special, why not create cinema hampers that bring all the fun of the silver screen right to your customers’ doorsteps. Simply package up popcorn, chocolates, cinema-style paper cups, and maybe even some amusing props to make their Netflix marathon that bit more enjoyable. 

Strike a deal

Since many retailers are unable to open their doors, it might make sense to strike up partnerships with those firms that are permitted to open. Garden centres, supermarkets, and many shops that sell food are still able to welcome customers – and so a strategic deal could get your products in front of the right people even if you cannot sell them yourself.

While it might mean forgoing a share of the profits to facilitate their involvement, the upshot is that some profit is better than none. This pandemic has been tough on the entire retail community and sticking together could very well be the answer to getting through it in one piece. 

Encourage I.O.Us

Another alternative is to drum up some future business – whilst bringing in some much-needed money to keep your cash flow on the right side of the line. By encouraging couples to purchase ‘I Owe You’ style gifts, you will be guaranteeing some cash now that allows them to give a romantic gift whilst securing your future. 

Whether it is a fancy meal when the lockdown ends, a spa day, or flowers delivered on a certain date, you could simply postpone the romance whilst keeping your overheads covered. It is easy to do, and all that’s really needed is a repurposed gift voucher or two.

Virtual experiences

For those firms that are used to putting on a show for Valentine’s day, this year does not have to be all that different. With a variety of video conferencing software packages to choose from, you could get your lead bartender to conduct a virtual cocktail making class, or even have a cookoff.

Whether it is comedy, music, amateur dramatics, or something altogether more interactive, this year is as good a time as any to experiment and to see what you can offer loved up couples on the entertainment front.

Memories are forever

eCommerce businesses have had a particularly busy 12 months as customers have flocked online to get their shopping fix. For Valentine’s day, however, generic products just will not cut it. 

Why not try offering personalised gifts that are made to order, or even allow your customers to do the hard work themselves by putting together photo books of the memories they and their partner have created together. All you will have to do is print and add a little gloss to create winning gifts that have a timeless charm – lockdown or not. 

Selling during the pandemic

Whatever you decide to do this Valentine’s day, it is important to remember that safety is paramount. For physical retail businesses and hospitality firms offering food at home, that might mean ditching cash for a convenient mobile card machine that helps your customers to pay for their romantic gifts and experiences without needing to come into contact with your delivery driver. Always make sure your card machine is always customer-ready by stocking up on card machine paper.

For the ultimate in social distancing, an eCommerce payment gateway could allow you to accept payments online and ensure that you are ready to compete with internet sellers for the foreseeable future. It is the simplest way to take online payments, and you won’t even need to worry about wiping down a card machine or using hand sanitiser.

The bottom line is that Valentine’s Day 2021 is going to look a little different. Without the packed restaurants and romantic getaways, it is easy to feel glum – but you can still sell your heart-shaped chocolates and maybe even turn a profit by trying out one of the suggestions given in this article.

Here’s to successful Valentine’s 2021, and a return to normality for the next one!

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