When it comes to the holidays, birthdays and anniversaries, people are willing to shell out some extra cash for the occasion. With deep pocketbooks out there, it’s up to restaurants to give customers a reason to dine at their establishment during the holidays.
Will customers deem your restaurant worthy of extra spending for special occasions? Follow these restaurant marketing tips and you’ll be on your way to full tables, a stuffed cash register and happy customers.
Send Holiday Greetings
A simple card or even an email blast sending best wishes for Valentine’s Day, Independence Day or the holiday season is a cheap and effective way to rekindle your customer’s interest in your restaurant. Spin the message so it seems like a greeting more than a promotion. A quick message and signature from the owner or manager is always a nice touch and lets the customer know there’s a human on the other end. At the bottom of the card, you could mention your holiday promotion, but keep it simple and enticing. For example, you could say, “One free glass of champagne for couples who dine with us on New Year’s Eve.”
Offer a Birthday Gift
According to the National Restaurant Association, more than half of Americans eat out on their birthday. By sending a coupon for a free drink, appetizer or dessert will make you the frontrunner for [insert customer name here]’s birthday dinner.
Sell Gift Certificate
Gift certificates are the perfect way to capitalize on special occasions during the holiday season. About 25% of the gift certificates will never actually be used, which turns that sale into pure profit. Keep gift certificates prominently displayed at the front of the restaurant, on your website and social media so customers can easily purchase them.
A special meal for two on Valentine’s Day. A free glass of champagne on Christmas Eve. Free taxi ride reimbursement on New Year’s Eve. Get the picture?
Customers are willing to spend over the holidays. So instead of offering discounts, up the ante with extra services or free items. Lowering prices attracts the wrong customer. Instead, add a bit of value.
Throw a Holiday Party
Nothing captures the spirit of the holidays like a good party. A Christmas gathering complete with an eggnog toast, a New Year’s countdown, a freaky Halloween party or even a romantic Valentine’s Day dance are all great options to fill the tables—just make sure you have all the supplies to make it happen. Make sure that your food and drinks are the main focus of the party, and provide special entertainment with music, movies or performers. Advertise your party through email, social media and flyers that come with the checks.
What would the holiday season be without Christmas lights? Or New Year’s eve without sparkly garlands and clocks for the countdown? FChanging the decorations in your restaurant occasionally will keep your design up-to-date with the season and add a fresh quality to the dining experience of your most loyal customers. Just make sure your holiday decorations do not clash with your design concept.
Host a Holiday Fundraiser
You aren’t the only one who drops extra change in the Salvation Army bucket or extends a few bucks to those less fortunate over the holidays. Show them that you, as a restaurant, care by hosting a special holiday fundraiser. You could put on a food drive or give a percentage of sales to a certain charity. Write up a press-release about it, and make sure to mention the fundraiser on any advertising materials that you use near the holidays.
Be Politically Correct
Do not risk alienating customers during the holiday season. Train all servers to say “Happy Holidays,” rather than “Merry Christmas.” Unless you know that your customer base subscribes to a certain religion, use only secular holiday decorations and slogans.
Put on a Holiday Stunt
You could transform your establishment into a haunted restaurant for Halloween, have all of your servers dress as Santa or elves for Christmas, hide eggs in your restaurant for customers to find on Easter, or send an employee to hit the streets dressed as a giant turkey for Thanksgiving. When it comes to crazy holiday stunts, do not limit your creativity.
Advertise for the Holidays
Consider advertising in more unique or specific medium for the holidays. For example, you could advertise in the program at a local drama theater for Valentine’s Day, or in programs for the Nutcracker ballet or school holiday concerts for the winter season. For Mardi Gras or Independence Day, consider creating a float for the parade and distributing flyers or coupons. For Thanksgiving, try advertising in the “food” section of local papers. And never underestimate the value of email and social media—it’s the fastest way to reach the most of your customers possible. Also make sure to mention your takeout or delivery services, since people may throw parties or be too busy to cook around the holidays.