Valentine's Day is a special time of year for restaurants to show their appreciation and make a big impression on their customers. This Valentine’s Day, why not take advantage of the opportunity to make your customers fall in love with you?
Here are some helpful tips for maximising your Valentine's Day bookings and wowing your customers with a wonderful experience, thanks to Laura from our own Customer Success Team:
- Create special menu items or discounts for couples, without excluding single diners
- Set the scene on social media to raise awareness
- Get a head start on reservations to maximise bookings
- Be prepared for even large crowds
- Ensure your staff are prepared to delight diners
In this article, we'll cover all of these tips in more detail so that by the end you'll feel confident in filling your restaurant and making the most of your Valentine's Day bookings.
Create special menu items or discounts for couples (without excluding single diners)
Valentine's Day can be a competitive but also lucrative event for restaurants. So, it's the perfect time to get creative with special menu items and offers for couples... and even everyone else.
Offering a discount is a fantastic way to attract romantic diners to your restaurant and Valentine's Day is a great excuse to do it. Two-for-one drinks and a free dessert with two spoons are reasonable offers, but can you be even more creative to make your restaurant stand out from the crowd?
Try creating special dishes to celebrate Valentine's Day or a Prix Fixe menu for two, with a glass of bubbles included. This will provide not just a great deal, but also a unique experience for your diners too.
With an online booking system, you could easily set it up so you’re able to take pre-orders and payments online in advance. That way, your kitchen can be well prepared, plus there needn’t be any conversations for your customers about splitting the bill on the night.
But what if you want to also avoid excluding customers who are flying solo this Valentine's Day; why should couples get all the fun after all?
Fortunately, Valentine's Day doesn't have to be just about couples!
You could also come up with a unique Valentine's Day-themed or even anti-Valentine's Day-themed event or create special offers for larger parties. Again, if you make it easy for people to purchase tickets or pre-order items online, you’ll be better placed to provide an unforgettable experience on the day.
That way single diners can also enjoy the fun (or the irony) of being out with their friends on Valentine's Day, so ultimately, everybody wins!
Don’t forget that with Valentine’s Day landing on a weekday, you’ll probably find a lot of people will want to make the weekend before their time to celebrate. This means your restaurant has more time and options to maximise bookings over the course of a few days.
Set the scene on social media to raise awareness that yours is the place to be this Valentine's Day
When you've created your special offer for Valentine's Day, you need to spread awareness with your fans and future diners.
Make sure you have the right message for your offer and that it's easy for customers to take advantage of with a clear call to action. If there's a discount code, how will they get access and how will they use it? Is there a link on your website to book or even an option to order and pay in advance?
The journey from diners seeing your ad and booking their seats needs to be a smooth and simple process.
- Check out our social media marketing guide for hospitality venues.
- Learn how ResDiary can help you manage promotion and online bookings more easily.
Don’t take Valentine’s Day so seriously
If you're the sort of venue that can show its funny side, get creative with your Valentine's Day promo to really strike a chord with your audience. A recent study found that 90% of people are more likely to remember ads that are funny, and 72% would choose a humorous brand over the competition.
Don't forget your mailing list and existing customers
Your existing customers and mailing list subscribers should be the first to hear about everything your restaurant has to offer on Valentine's Day. The likelihood is they'll be the first to book a table too!
So, make sure you include them in your promotion strategy, and remember what we said above about showing them your brand's personality to stand out.
Get a head start on reservations to maximise Valentine's Day sales
It’s important to get as many reservations booked in advance as you can for Valentine's Day. This isn't just good for your sales, it will also make it easier for you to ensure menus, staff shifts and even decorations are perfectly planned.
This includes optimising your table plan, which will allow you to maximise your bookings and revenue on the day.
You may need to reorganise your table plan to maximise the number of couples you can serve on the night. Also think about how many tables you can physically sit at once, without putting too much pressure on your waiting staff and your kitchen.
Considered table management can help you to maximise revenue and also optimise an efficient workflow on the night.
With a restaurant booking system like ResDiary, you can set rules for your table plan, table allocation and the available reservation time slots. This puts you in control of your service workflow and can save a lot of stress in the process.
Lastly, remember to promote your offer as soon as you can and encourage people to book early. When Valentine's Day is fast approaching, you may also want to consider running a last-minute discount campaign to fill any gaps in your schedule.
- Stuck using pen and paper to manage your bookings? Find out how to move to a more reliable and automated system
Be prepared even for large groups
We've talked about attracting groups of diners as well as couples to help maximise your Valentine's Day revenue.
Accommodating both couples and larger groups may require a little extra planning, however. As we mentioned above, you may need to break up large tables for couples.
Alternatively, attracting groups may be helpful if your restaurant has large tables that can't be split between couples - which would mean fewer wasted seats and more paying customers!
This is where an automated table management system can help you.
ResDiary's intelligent table management system can relieve the stress of sorting out your seating plan by creating areas, automatically assigning new bookings to tables, spacing out sittings, and even combining or splitting tables to accommodate different group sizes.
Ensure your staff are prepared to delight diners
Valentine's Day is a fantastic opportunity to make your dining experience that extra bit special, but only with proper planning and the right execution.
If you're running a special menu or offer for Valentine's Day diners, make sure your staff are aware and fully trained to answer any questions that may come up.
It'll hopefully be a busy night too (or nights if you plan to make the most of the weekends around Valentine’s Day), with lots of turns as you try to maximise revenue from couples dining. So check and re-check your table plan, making sure the workflow will be as smooth as possible for your front-of-house team and your kitchen.
Valentine's Day can also throw in some curveballs that your staff need to prepare for - like being roped into proposal plans! Take notes with every reservation to help your team provide the best possible service, and make sure they're readily available to see when they're needed.
With ResDiary, you can add notes and special requirements to every booking, which are then saved with the customer's profile and accessible when you need them. This means can really get to know your customers and give them the best possible experience every time they dine with you.
Bonus Tip: No-shows are a common problem for all restaurants, not least of all when you are expecting your venue to be busy. You can reduce the risk of no-shows by taking a deposit with reservations.
Most customers are happy to pay a deposit as long as the rules are transparent and they can easily cancel in advance if they need to.
Valentine's Day can be a competitive but also lucrative occasion for restaurants. So, it's best to plan as much in advance as you possibly can to maximise your revenue and delight your diners.
Offering unique menus and special discounts is a fantastic way to make the most of Valentine's Day by attracting more restaurant bookings and helping out your kitchen too.
Proper planning and efficient table management are also vital to helping things run smoothly on the night, giving your customers the best possible dining experience. Table management systems like ResDiary can help take a lot of the stress away from perfecting your table plan.
So don't miss out on this chance to show your diners how much they mean by making Valentine's Day extra special!
About the author
Laura Barnes is a Senior Customer Relationship Manager at ResDiary
If you’re getting prepared for 2023 and want to find out more about how ResDiary can support you and your venue team, why not get in touch with one of our experts today or book a personalised demo.