If you look back at 2018, you’ll find that 54.7% of the adult population planned on celebrating Valentine’s day, with an estimated $19.6 billion spent on their partners. $3.7 billion of those projected sales were allocated towards an evening out, including trips to restaurants.
There is a lot of competition out there, and trying to find the perfect promo to make your restaurant stand out can be difficult. You need to find a way to balance what’s best for your company and what will draw in enough customers when every other place is doing the same. Here are some ideas that we think could spice things up.
1. Set up a charitable initiative.
There are a couple of ways you can take the theme of the holiday without being too on the nose about it, including getting involved with local charities. Establishing your business as one that cares about important causes is a great way to improve your brand identity. Charitable people will be happier to support your business if they see that you share similar philanthropic views.
February is Heart Health Month, so one way you can celebrate Valentine’s Day is by taking the time to make a “Heart Healthy” menu option. Promote the food options that you have that will “take care of your customers hearts.” In addition to this, you can also add a company donation based on a percentage of sales of your “Heart Healthy” meal promo.
Alternatively, you can run a “Charities You Cherish” campaign and have your customers vote for their favorite local charities during February and the winner will receive the total funds raised by your organization.
This will help your customers feel involved in the choices made by your restaurant, and if you have the voting based on a “one vote per receipt” option, you may have some people returning several times in the month to make those votes count.
2. Give out early reservation discounts or bonuses.
Help give your customers a little reminder by advertising your valentine’s day deals early and offering a bonus to those who book before a certain date.
By doing this, you’ll have guaranteed clients on the day, as well as happy customers who won’t have to worry about last minute reservations.
Make sure you create plenty of signage and advertising to promote the event. Post details in high-traffic areas so you can be sure that all of your clients will see them.
3. Do a “Show Us Some Love” promo.
Focus on getting your customers talking about your brand because perspective clients are going to trust their own friends and family more than any other form of advertising.
Create a social media campaign that will encourage your current customers to share about their experiences.
Offer to give a small discount or appetizer to people who share photos of their meals or a positive story on Instagram or Facebook using searchable hashtags. That way, you can easily track the interactions you received, and get in touch directly to send over a coupon they can use for their next visit.
Not only will your customers feel like their opinions are being heard, you’ll have them coming back again.
4. Offer “Date Night” Specials and promotions.
Keep it simple with a “Date Night” promo that pairs together your most romantic options.
Pair shareable appetizers with champagne or create a custom dessert for two, something to entice couples to choose your establishment as it will have everything selected for them so they can focus on eachother.
Another option is to create a bonus for those who are on a date, whether it’s flowers for each reservation, a branded box of chocolates, or a coupon to return for a second date night in the coming months, giving your clients something as a bonus takeaway helps them feel appreciated.
5. Promote a lunch special.
Most people may think that dinner is the best time to target your client base on Valentine’s Day, but you can take advantage of an often forgotten market by sharing the focus with a lunch special.
By only creating dinner specials, you miss out on the opportunity of highlighting a time that may not be as busy.
Lunch can be a great time to bring in customers, whether it’s senior clients who prefer earlier meals, parents with children, people who work shift work, or even just those who wish to avoid the busy crowds, there are many people who would rather go out for lunch than dinner
6. Create a photobooth area.
Setting up a photobooth in your restaurant isn’t too difficult to do. Keep it simple by putting up a red or pink backdrop (you could even use a shower curtain), get a few fun props (flowers, hearts, sunglasses, hats), and make sure there is decent lighting in the area.
Make sure you have your branding on the backdrop so that your restaurant name will appear in the background of the photos.
You can even set up a branded border in advance that will let you give the customers a copy of the picture before they leave with all your restaurant’s information on it.
Suggestion: set up the photobooth right at the entrance, and then have the hosts take their photo before the customers go to their seats. Then the host will have time to print out the photo so it can be delivered with the bill at the end of the night, giving the clients a nice memento to take with them.
7. Arrange a ‘take out’ special.
Not everyone is going to want to go out for Valentine’s Day. Whether they are trying to avoid the crowds or they forgot to get a reservation, many couples want to celebrate the holiday at home.
You can advertise a “take out” special that will give your clients a full romance package that they can take home. You can create a specific menu, like you would in store, or you could use this as an opportunity to go the extra mile and give your clients things they wouldn’t have thought of.
For example, include a candle (packaged with some branding on it) and give out a rose with each delivery or take out order. It’s easy enough to give your customers something special that’ll help them keep you in mind next time they want to order.
You can also use this promo to create a repeat customer by giving them a coupon for their next order.
8. Launch a “pass it on” promotion.
Word mouth is an ideal way to market your restaurant, so having people “share the love” is an excellent technique that benefits both you and the client.
When you have a customer in the restaurant, give them a coupon with their bill that they can either use when they come back next time or give to someone they recommend the restaurant to.
Giving your clients an incentive to returning to your restaurant is always good practice. As a bonus, this promotion pairs nicely with other specials as well. For example, you can say that you qualify for the “Share the Love” promo if you buy a specific meal or drink. It will reward your customers to take part in your Valentine’s Day promotions in a way they will remember when they return later.
9. Host a trivia night.
Trivia nights can bring in a wide range of clientele who are looking for more than just a quiet dinner. It’s perfect for bars or pubs that have a more low-key environment without as much of a focus on the romance of the day.
However, you can still keep it in line with theme of love by tailoring your questions to be about famous couples throughout history and pop-culture.
Which romantic man is known for the phrase “As you wish”?
a) Jack from ‘Titanic’
b) Wesley from ‘The Princess Bride’
c) Mr. Darcy from ‘Pride & Prejudice’
d) Noah from ‘The Notebook’
10. Host an ‘Anti-Valentine’s Day’ party.
While 54.7% of adults intend on celebrating Valentine’s Day, that still leaves another 45.3% of adults who don’t want to participate in the romance-based holiday. Instead of competing with all of those other restaurants by going after the couples, focus on the singles for a different demographic.
You can create singles-specific menus, drink specials, or deals for people who come in with their single friends. Celebrate those who are being ignored by all the other restaurants and you’ll be guaranteed to stand out.
See how Solink can help you keep an eye on all your sites during a busy holiday like Valentine’s Day, all from your mobile device.