Five ways businesses can make the most of Notting Hill Carnival

Please note that this article is intended for educational purposes only and should not be deemed to be or used as legal, employment, or health & safety advice. For guidance or advice specific to your business, consult with a qualified professional.

Notting Hill Carnival 2023 is just around the corner, the vibrant bank holiday weekend where happy revellers from all over the world turn the streets of West London into a riot of colour, music and dancing.

Held this year on Sunday 27 August until Monday 28 August, Europe’s biggest street party is an exuberant celebration of Caribbean culture, diversity and community. Starting in the 1960s, with a two-year hiatus in 2020 and 2021, it’s one of the capital’s best-loved events, with up to two million people attending the festivities.

But while it’s famous for its parade, sound systems and flamboyant outfits, it’s also well-known for boosting the coffers of small businesses in the area. The influx of visitors with money to spend is thought to boost the local economy by £93 million.

Whether you own a restaurant, retail business or salon in W10, Notting Hill Carnival gives you access to a huge number of potential customers. Even if you’re not in the heart of the action, it still presents the perfect opportunity to raise your brand profile by exposing it to the masses. Not sure how? Here’s how you can harness the business-boosting powers of the Notting Hill Carnival for your own small enterprise.

1 Let the Carnival be your launchpad

Got a bright idea? Whether it’s for a street food concept or a never-seen-before product, launch it at Notting Hill Carnival and you’ll be in good company. Levi Roots, the entrepreneur behind Reggae Reggae Sauce, started selling the jerk sauce from a stall at the event to gauge the public’s reaction. To cut a long story short: they loved it.

Getting a stall or a street trading licence at Notting Hill Carnival can help you present your idea to a huge captive audience and give you valuable understanding of your market and audience. You’ll soon know whether your concept is a damp squib, or hotter than a scotch bonnet pepper.

2 Reach wider audiences at Notting Hill Carnival

Already got a thriving small business? A stall can help here too, helping you ring up sales along with giving you publicity and the chance to try out new products, food items or services.

Whatever you’re selling, you can expect to experience heavy customer traffic over the Carnival weekend. If your customers have to wait in line to pay, they may go elsewhere, so make sure your payment system is up to the job. Square Reader is your Carnival stall’s best friend, able to accept card payments and digital wallets quickly and conveniently. Upgrade a little to Square Terminal and gain extra functionality, including the ability to print receipts.

3 Go for a Carnival theme at your brick-and-mortar premises

Not in W10? Not a problem. Whenever Notting Hill Carnival hits the headlines it brings with it special opportunities for themed promotions all over London. In restaurants and bars this could mean rum cocktails, meal deals with extra spice or family feasts that give a flavour of the Caribbean. Square for Restaurants POS lets you set up your Carnival-themed specials in seconds, while Square Marketing will help you spread the word to your customers, well before the street party comes around.

At salons, this could be offering beauty make-overs, hairstyles or special manicures in the run-up to the weekend, to help revellers get Carnival-ready. Square Appointments can simplify your scheduling, and send your customers text message reminders to reduce the risk of no-shows.

Fashion retailers may wish to offer brightly-coloured clothing, or something with feathers or sequins, and Square can help here too. Square for Retail can handle these kinds of one-off items with ease, letting you add and delete products from your inventory by scanning them in using a USB barcode.

Remember that wherever you offer promotional deals, there are also cross-selling and upselling opportunities that can increase your Average Order Value and expand your profit margins.

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4 Cater to those en route to the Carnival

Revellers come from near and far to get to the Carnival parade so you may experience an increase in footfall, particularly if you’re situated near a rail or Tube station. If you’re the owner of a restaurant or bar, using Square for Restaurants OpenTable integration allows you to customise your floorplans in an instant, letting you make efficient use of all your space, whether that’s indoors or out.

If you’re a retailer, you may wish to change your stock, to allow you to supply the kind of items this new kind of customer demands. Bottled water, themed T-shirts, sunscreen or even umbrellas might be more popular on Carnival weekends, depending on the weather.

  1. Cater for those not going to the Carnival
    Huge crowds and loud music aren’t everyone’s cup of Red Stripe, so offer your customers a more relaxed alternative. Carnival-themed events are still popular with those who might not be venturing into W10 themselves. Plus, because it takes place over the August bank holiday, many people are off work, looking for somewhere to go and something to do.

Whether you’re a restaurant, bar or salon, offering live entertainment can draw the crowds. But if you can’t afford a whole steel band, there are other ways to get some Carnival flavour in your business.

Whatever you’re planning, make sure your customers hear about it. Social media is a great starting point. In addition to putting up relevant social media posts, explicitly ask your followers to like and share them. If the platform allows, ask them to tag their friends. Increase the chances of this by creating high-quality posts that people really engage with.

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