Nearly half (45%) of Brits return to the same restaurant they have previously been to on a romantic date. Joel Montaniel, CEO at SevenRooms explores how restaurant marketers can stand out from the crowd and draw in diners this Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, meaning consumers up and down the UK will be making restaurant reservations in preparation for the most romantic day of the year. With over £1bn spent on Valentine’s Day in 2019, consumers are expected to spend 12% more this year on making memories with their sweethearts.
Valentine’s Day offers the perfect excuse to try the best restaurants with a significant other. Whether consumers are looking for a casual evening to celebrate a new relationship, or looking to rekindle the fire with a romantic candle-lit dinner, Valentine’s Day serves as a huge opportunity for restaurants to drive footfall and boost revenue. However, with so many different options available – especially in larger cities such as London – competition is fierce. To stand out, restaurants need to go the extra mile to woo guests on February 14th.
With this in mind, we’ve put together seven ideas for attracting customers and maximising revenue this Valentine’s Day.
- Make special menu additions
Guests are always looking for something out of the ordinary. The experience that comes with a dish is fast becoming as important as the quality of the food, so why not adjust the menu to make it different to your usual dinner offering?
Heart-shaped pizzas, a special date night cocktail or even a kitchen tour can all add to the experience around the meal, and with 82% of guests saying they’d rather receive an experience than a gift from their significant other, this can go a long way to making your restaurant memorable.
- Give away freebies – and promote them
Giving guests a small gift can help to make a restaurant experience feel more personal and special – and with 60% of repeat visits driven by unforgettable experiences, it’s worth going that extra mile.
Small touches such as complimentary dessert, a box of chocolates at the end of the meal, or a welcome Cosmopolitan cocktail can help to develop a long-lasting relationship between a restaurant and its guests.
Ensure you’re promoting these offerings in advance so that the diner knows from the first interaction during the booking process that their significant other will feel special on the night.
- Give loyal guests early access to bookings
Whether you send an email or target them with ads, your frequent guests should be the first to know about your Valentine’s Day offering.
It’s seven times less expensive to convince an existing customer to return to your restaurant than to acquire a new guest – making it worth your while to focus on getting existing guests back through your door. Focus your marketing strategy on targeted, personalized outreach that will make your guests feel special, like opening up reservations for Valentine’s a day or two early so they’re sure to snag that special table for a date night with their loved one.
- Send guests a personal email
It’s rare for guests to receive a personalised email from a restaurant, so this can make them feel extra special.
Using a restaurant operations platform, segment your guest database by number of visits, historical spend or even specific dietary preferences. This could take the form of a ‘come back for a free glass of wine’ message to all guests who have visited in the last six month, or simply telling specific guests about your special vegan or nut-free Valentine’s Day menus.
- Make bookings as easy as possible
Automatically linking to February 14 on your reservation platform is a simple tactic to increase bookings, but one that is often overlooked. Most restaurants send brilliantly targeted emails to promote occasions, but guests click through and are brought to the current date – lowering your conversion rate.
Make sure that you also have reservations available across every channel your guests are looking for you — including Facebook, Google, Instagram, and Tripadvisor. By reaching guests where they’re already searching for you, you’ll be more likely to convert that guest into a reservation.
- Offer upgrades during online booking
Allowing guests to upgrade their meal, with touches such as a wine pairing or a flower arrangement, can help to further personalise their dining experience and make their date night particularly memorable.
Using a booking system that offers these upgrades during the reservation process is an easy way to advertise add-ons and capture revenue before a guest arrives at your restaurant. The result is increased revenue and reduced no-shows, as guests won’t want to miss out on their pre-paid upgrades.
- Build a custom landing page for Valentine’s Day
Creating a dedicated landing page for your Valentine’s Day offering allows you to keep imagery, menus and reservation links in one place, and creates a seamlessly branded experience for potential guests.
When building out the page, ensure you’re putting “valentines day restaurant” + “[your city]” as the keyword in your URL, page title, and page headline. This will help to increase your SEO for any guests in your area that might be searching for Valentine’s Day restaurant bookings.
These are just some ideas on how you can draw in diners and maximise revenue this Valentine’s Day. With 45% of Brits admitting they have returned to the same restaurant on a romantic date, these valuable tips can help you stand out from the crowd and ensure diners have an unforgettable date night this Valentine’s Day. Your restaurant offers something unique — whether it’s a dining counter with views of the kitchen, locally-sourced menu items or a buzzworthy mixology program. Using what’s already in your arsenal, it’s simple to package and promote offerings that highlight what makes your brand and property unique. There are endless opportunities to wow guests — and the more memorable their experience, the more likely guests are to return and recommend the venue in the future.
By Joel Montaniel