How to Market Your Restaurant During the Holidays
October 18, 2018
While the year-end holidays usually cause a big bang for retail (according to the latest forecasts, US shoppers are expected to spend about $1 trillion on Christmas gifts), restaurants don’t seem to benefit as much from the hype.
In fact, restaurants may even lose revenue (according to researchers, up to 37%) in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
The cause for that is unclear. People may be stressed out over end-of-year tasks at work plus all the holiday shopping costs, and feel thus less inclined to dine out. Similarly, many people travel over the last few weeks of the year to visit family and friends, and are unable to visit their regular hangouts.
With smart holiday marketing ideas, you can boost your end-of-year sales and even increase your visitor numbers over the weeks leading up to Christmas.
And on top of that, Christmas is supposed to be a time for home-cooking, which is another reason why restaurants may be emptier than usual.
While New Year’s Eve generally changes that trend, there’s no need to wait that long. With smart holiday marketing ideas, you can boost your end-of-year sales and even increase your visitor numbers over the weeks leading up to Christmas.
Restaurant Holiday Promotions
Christmas promos for restaurants tend to build on the atmosphere of the season. The general sense of community, generosity, and cheerfulness usually associated with the holidays should be the basis for your restaurant’s holiday promotions.
The easiest way to draw customers into your restaurant is to decorate it according to the season.
Start making your preparations early. Retailers tend to put up their Christmas decorations right when they take down their Halloween pumpkins, giving shoppers enough time to get themselves in the mood. You can follow suit and transform your restaurant into a winter wonderland.
Putting seasonal dishes on the menu is one of the best Christmas promotion ideas for restaurants. You can experiment with new takes on traditional dishes, or invent your own Christmas specials to draw customers in.
Build on the hottest food trends this season. Incorporate ingredients and tastes people are already looking for into traditional holiday dishes. Regardless of the profile of your restaurant, seasonal drinks and dishes will always be a hit.
Aside from the religious sides of the holidays, the end of the year is a great occasion to celebrate achievements – hence the extraordinary number of office parties. There are two ways you can hop on this trend as part of your restaurant’s holiday promotions.
Rent out Your Space
If your restaurant’s size and market positioning allows it (i.e. it’s not a fast food chain restaurant), you can host office parties.
At the beginning of fall, workers tasked with organizing their office Christmas party will start looking for venues. Create a holiday party package and offer it to your corporate clients. Make it attractive enough (e.g. with an early booking discount, easy payment methods, or free desserts thrown in) to make those workers stop looking once they’ve found you.
Alternatively, you can also offer catering at your client’s own offices. If you’ve done this in previous years, make sure to email your contacts and let them know they can book your services again.
Host Your Own Christmas Party
Another great Christmas promo for restaurants is to host a holiday party for your regular clients. You can make it a thematic event, like an ugly Christmas sweater competition, or simply invite your clients for a fun night of games and good food.
Offer your holiday specials at a discounted price, invite a band to sing holiday songs, organize a trivia night, or anything else you can think of.
There are many ways to make your party a success. Offer your holiday specials at a discounted price, invite a band to sing holiday songs, organize a trivia night, or anything else you can think of.
The main aim is to connect your restaurant to the general festivities in a way that is suitable for your image. Get creative and make the most of your holiday party, and celebrate with your community.
Issuing gift cards is always a great idea, especially at a time when people are looking for Christmas presents for friends, family, business partners, and their neighbor’s cousin’s classmates.
Display your gift cards in a prominent spot. If you want to accelerate sales, you can put a special promotion on them.
For example, you can offer them at a discounted price, or give a $5 card to every customer who buys a $50 card. This way, the gift giver gets a gift themselves – talk about the best incentive.
One of the most obvious Christmas promotion ideas for restaurants is to donate food. Many people are unable to afford a holiday meal, and participating in a food hamper program will help raise the profile of your restaurant, and can be your good deed for the season.
Alternatively, you can volunteer at a soup kitchen, or let your staff go and volunteer in their working hours.
Many people are unable to afford a holiday meal, and participating in a food hamper program will help raise the profile of your restaurant, and can be your good deed for the season.
Giving back to the community can be important for your clients as well. Build on their generosity and offer a part of the revenue of your holiday specials (or any dish) to a good cause.
Your customers will find themselves compelled to order the dish that helps other people put food on the table. You can help your clients feel good about themselves, and consequently, about your restaurant.
Christmas Advertising Ideas for Restaurants
Your holiday marketing ideas wouldn’t be complete without proper advertising. After all, you need to let your customers know about what’s happening.
When it comes to cost-effective and easy advertising, social media is your best bet. Let your followers know about your holiday specials, gift cards, Christmas party, charitable donations, and every other holiday-related tidbit happening at the restaurant.
Let your followers know about your holiday specials, gift cards, Christmas party, charitable donations, and every other holiday-related tidbit happening at the restaurant.
Create eye-catching images that will make people stop scrolling down their social media feed and really look at what you’re offering. You’re in luck: pictures of mouth-watering food tend to do well on social media (another reason to be glad you didn’t become an undertaker).
Send out a group email or two to your client list about your restaurant’s holiday promotions. That way, you can make sure that nobody misses your specials. Or, if you’ve spruced up the menu for the holidays, send through the new items you think your customers will be excited about.
By the way, emailing your customers is always a good way to remind them of your existence. Make sure you send out regular emails (at least once a month) so your customers won’t forget about your restaurant. Don’t go too overboard though. Spam emails are rampant during the holiday season. Make sure you personalize your messages to make them stand out from the flood of flyers in your customers’ inboxes.
This year, video marketing continues its popular streak in advertising. According to a recent survey, video marketers get 66% more qualified leads than businesses that don’t use this medium.
Just like with image creation, you’re in luck’s way when it comes to video marketing. Shoot simple videos of your chefs preparing your holiday dishes, or a short clip of your staff putting up holiday decorations.
Anything works as long as it peaks viewers’ interest about your restaurant and entices them to pay you a visit.
Whichever Christmas advertising ideas you choose for your restaurant, make sure it fits the overall image you’re trying to achieve. Promotions that feel odd, insincere or out of place (i.e. cooking a whole turkey in a hamburger restaurant) can alienate customers instead of drawing them in.
Tailor all your holiday promotions to your restaurant’s specific image. That is the best way to attract loyal clients who will keep coming back to you.