Marketing Restaurants for the Holidays

When it comes to bringing in extra revenue around the holidays, a lot of times it’s bad last minute planning that has many restaurants falling short, but there are things that can be done now, to help give revenue a boost and prepare for the coming years. 

Think Like the Customer

Where a lot of us may be thinking about the holidays when Halloween finally rolls around, as a business you’ll need to be thinking holiday season well in advance of that.  Here at Tundra Restaurant Supply, we throw a holiday party every year, but with 140 employees and their families, we have to make sure to plan well in advance to ensure we have a venue to host all of us. 

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We typically start looking for our venue around the end of August and decide by the beginning of September.  However, our decision has never been based on a past venue calling us and letting us know what they’re doing this year, and wouldn’t that be a great opportunity for them to tempt us to go with them?  A simple phone call could potentially sway us, especially if an offer was thrown in, say 10% off? 

When I say, “think like the customer,” I mean to think about when they’ll likely be planning their event (usually things are booked up by the end of October, so most companies planning a holiday party know to start early).  As well as, how you can re-engage with past customers, and how you can start marketing to get the word out.

Offline & Online Marketing

There are multiple places for customers to engage with your brand, you just have to think about how you can do this aesthetically, while sticking with the marketing initiative. 

Offline

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Sticking with the restaurant theme, where are places around the facility that you could take advantage of posting that catering/event planning is offered?  It needs to be somewhere the customer is looking, like the menu, a sign at the front door, on the mirror in the bathroom, on the back of the bathroom stall, on a table tent card, etc.  And this can be done very tastefully; Palm Restaurant has one of my favorite examples of great holiday party advertising.

Online

This one always surprises me, because businesses still haven’t gotten the concept that putting a webpage up and taking it down is actually a waste of time.  Yes, a waste of time.  If you aren’t willing to update the page, and keep it up, you’re not giving the search engines enough time to index the page and have it in front of people when they are searching.

There’s one of three things you can do when it comes to having a pages (or multiple pages) dedicated to events on your website:

  1. Have one page up, year-around that speaks to the end of the year holiday parties.  When the year is over, update the page asking people to check back later, or go ahead and inquire if they’d like.
  2. Build out a page for each event you’d like to target (Dave and Busters and Buca di Beppo do a good job of this), but remember, you’ll still have to update the pages so that they speak to the current season (or at least update the offer, so people want to check back and see what the current deals are).
  3. Have one page that is dedicated to generic event planning</strong>.  Keep the content generic, whereas it doesn’t target one specific holiday/time of year.  The reason for this is because if a page is built around Thanksgiving, then changed to target Christmas, the search engine bots won’t have enough time to get your page indexed for the new holiday.  Also, if you start to get inbound links for Christmas, then change to New Year’s, you’ll confuse the audience that comes to your site from that inbound link.

Lastly, remember to spread the news to your social media audience.  This is great awareness for the people that already follow you, and helps them spread the word for you if they know someone that is interested.

What’s the Offer

You can decide that you don’t want to offer a percent off or discount for holiday parties/catered events, and that’s fine, but you at least need to show why you’re different from competition. 

  • Are you able to offer them someone to help that specializes in groups or catering events? 
  • Do you do specialized menus for each party, or each holiday? 
  • Do you have a special theme, or private dining for groups? 

Write the list down, and make sure it’s included in your marketing material. 

Get creative if you can.  Easy ways to get leads, and find customers looking for a party venue, is to hold a contest.  Be willing to give something away (maybe a small catering event for like 10 people), and have people compete for the winning.  You’ll be giving away something, but you’ll also be gaining leads that you can contact later on, while building brand awareness as well.

Williams – Sonoma

Because restaurants aren’t the only ones competing for the holiday crowd, I thought I’d share another example of a company winning when it comes to successfully marketing holidays online.

Williams – Sonoma is a classic example of an online eCommerce site doing the holidays right.  Their Christmas page is up year around, and so is their Easter page.  However, they update the message on each holiday page, depending on the urgency of the season; for example, different deals would be mentioned as the holiday comes closer.  You’ll also notice that in their main navigation, they rotate through the holidays that are current. 

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Think they’re pushing their holiday sales in an effective way?  I’d argue that they’re one of the best examples of an online retailer doing things right when it comes to holiday marketing.

To see the examples mentioned in this post, plus a few more, visit this Pinterest board.

 

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Kasy Allen is an Online Marketing Specialist for eTundra, a restaurant supply company based in Colorado.  You can learn more about her and her company on her LinkedIn profile.