This festive season promises to be a busy one, especially after Covid, lockdowns, and social distancing essentially cancelled last year’s Christmas plans. We’re all eager to make up for lost time, and what better way to do it than by gathering around the dinner table to enjoy a meal out with friends, family and colleagues?
Christmas is a particularly important time for the hospitality sector. And this year offers a chance to capitalise like no other, with 64 per cent of diners saying they’re ready to make up for lost celebrations at restaurants, according to a recent OpenTable survey.
So don’t leave a single empty seat and curate experiences designed to maximise the festive season. With OpenTable’s Experiences feature, you can add another layer to restaurant offerings and give people meal moments they won’t forget.
We’ve put together some tips for how to use OpenTable’s Experiences and get people dining in your winter wonderland this Christmas (mulled wine optional).
‘Tis the season for experiences
Christmas is a special time of year, one that evokes a celebratory mood and brings with it a feeling of togetherness. That’s why the months ahead are ideal for designing a unique restaurant experience that gets diners feeling yuletide joy.
From cosy afternoon tea on a dark and frosty Sunday to festive-inspired tasting menus, there are plenty of experiences ready to be tailor-made at this time of year. The Old Boathouse in Greater Manchester offers inspiration with its Christmas festive menus aptly named Jingle Bells Party Buffet and A Jolly Good Time.
They have the right idea over at Gaucho, too. The steakhouse is making the most of Christmas with Friendmas, which encourages friends and families to get together with a festive menu, Christmas drinks and a collection of classic games.
Being able to customise and promote menus centred around Christmas helps capture guests’ imagination and can increase the number of tables booked in your restaurant.
A Christmas present to satisfy the taste buds
Even if you don’t go down the route of festive-specific experiences, there’s still an opportunity to maximise business. For all the good brought on by the holidays, it can sometimes be tricky finding the right presents for loved ones.
You can help solve that problem by giving diners the opportunity to book a culinary experience and gift wrap it for people who matter most in their lives. In Mayfair, London, Kanishka offers a “Date Night tasting menu” for guests – the perfect Christmas present for someone who enjoys fine Indian cuisine and high-end dining.
Being able to book in advance means Experiences is a smart move for people looking for Christmas gift inspiration. After all, who needs possessions such as another bottle of aftershave or a makeup gift set when they can buy a memorable dining experience?
Shine a light on great deals
Whether it’s discounted menus or two-for-one offers, use Experiences to highlight when diners can find a deal at your restaurant. The festive period is a time for fun, but it can also be a strain on people’s bank balances. That’s where menu discounts come in handy.
Over at Wood Fired Sourdough Pizzas in East London’s Clerkenwell, diners get 50 per cent off any pizza when ordering another pizza together with either a starter or a dessert. While L’Artigiano Modern Kitchen offers 30 per cent off its a la carte menu.
Offering discounts can also help during off-peak periods at restaurants, with guests keen on taking advantage of a deal. By highlighting discounted menus throughout the winter months, diners can identify the right time to book and ensure your restaurant stays full even during quiet periods.
A time for giving
Offering one experience is a great way to give guests a meal to remember. But why stop there? Christmas is a time for giving, and you can get everyone in the spirit with multiple experiences at your restaurant.
Discounts, festive menus, tasting options, date nights – why not offer a little bit of everything and increase the intrigue around your restaurant? Multiple experiences gives guests more choices, and increases the reason for them to book a table. Competition is high at this time of year, but offering multiple experiences could be the difference-maker that gets people choosing your restaurant over the other options.
Who said a guest’s experience ends when the plates are empty? Use OpenTable’s Experiences as an opportunity to upsell diners with add-ons that enhance their meal. You can be creative and give them a chance to extend their interaction with your restaurant, enhancing brand profile in the process.
Some restaurants have succeeded in selling brand merch, from mugs to t-shirts and other memorabilia. Others have offered cookbooks and sold ingredients that guests can take home and cook.
Upselling is another tactic that can work well during this time of year, with people in the giving mood. A bottle of wine, cookbook, or other items related to your restaurant offers something a little bit different from the typical stocking fillers.
Promote group bookings
There’s no time like Christmas for large group bookings. From office Christmas dinners to family get-togethers, everyone’s on the lookout for group dining options during the holidays. Now is the time to get on top of larger booking trends and give guests a reason to book your restaurant for their special festive occasion.
Experiences can persuade people on the lookout for unique dining options. Curate specific tasting menus for larger groups or tailor a set festive menu, then run a boost campaign to let diners know you’re the spot for Christmas parties.
Catering to a large group with specialised experiences should be on the agenda If your restaurant is located near offices and other corporate buildings. Christmas party bookings are expected to boom this year, and you can be right at the front of the queue of places offering large-group experiences.
Think about the big day
The entire months of October, November and December provide an opportunity to capitalise on the winter season. But don’t think it’s only the lead up to Christmas where you can optimise bookings.
OpenTable has previously reported that people eating out on Christmas day has increased by as much as 139 per cent over the years. This Christmas season will likely see the trend continue, especially after last year’s closures.
And what better way to enjoy a Christmas day meal than with an experience? More than any other year, this could be the time to get diners abandoning the stress of home cooking and signing up for a unique experience at your restaurant. Just don’t forget the Christmas crackers.
An OpenTable Experience
Using OpenTable to create must-have experiences can help you boost bookings and enjoy a very merry Christmas at your restaurant. It’s an opportunity to showcase unique experiences and give guests moments to remember. After Christmas being cancelled last year, even Santa’s ready for a tasty dining experience like no other in 2021.