Most restaurant owners know Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest nights of the year, but did you know it’s the second most popular day for Americans to dine out? Thirty-four percent of Americans will eat at a restaurant on Valentine’s Day, according to Entrepreneur. Since the holiday is a $19.7 billion industry, it is a sweet spot for marketing and increasing guest counts.
Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to showcase your restaurant and generate buzz to draw in new guests. While many consumers will try to book reservations close to the actual day, you can begin promoting your festive Valentine’s Day events prior.
As Brady Thomason, solutions manager in restaurant and hospitality for NetSuite, pointed out: “If the holiday falls in the middle of the week, you can use it as a marketing opportunity to have promotions the week before and after Valentine’s Day. So instead of one day, you’re getting a full week of opportunities.”
The best way to capture the hearts of new guests is to promote your restaurant the way you would woo a date on Valentine’s Day.
Make it special.
Think about what is unique about the cuisine at your restaurant and use that to market a Valentine’s Day promotion. Are you known for exceptional steak? Thomason suggested offering a steak-for-two special or shared meals to your menu. Make sure you let guests know about these Valentine’s Day deals by advertising it ahead of time on your website, a sign in your window or flyers in your regular menu.
Make it memorable.
Find ways to make your restaurant stand out, whether it’s through special decorations, a catchy theme or wordplay around your restaurant’s name, a signature dessert or cocktail or live music only offered on Valentine’s Day. By making your promotion more memorable, guests are more likely to want to experience the holiday at your restaurant and remember where to go for it.
Make it photo-worthy.
If we’ve learned anything from the social media age, it’s that everyone loves a good selfie photo-op. So make it easier for diners to take their selfie game up a notch with a photo wall. Find a space inside or right outside your restaurant, and create a themed backdrop for guests to have their photos taken. You could even hire someone, or dedicated an employee, to be in charge of pictures and videos for special moments like proposals.
Make it friendly.
Even though it’s billed as a holiday for couples, Valentine’s Day has also become a celebration amongst friends, coworkers and family members. So, they’re probably going to go out to eat, too! Cater to crowds with group promotions, trivia games or love-songs karaoke.
Make it magical.
We all love a surprise, especially when it’s something that makes us feel loved or special. Find a way to make a magical moment at your restaurant. Hide raffle tickets under chairs and give away a prize. You can also randomly select a table to win a free meal because they are your 14th reservation or guest of the night. Other ideas range from hosting a surprise musical guest to handing out sparklers and having everyone sing a romantic song together.
By adding something unexpected for your guests, each year you can build a reputation as a unique and special place to return to for Valentine’s Day or any day where guests want a happy place to dine.