10 marketing tips for a great festive season

couple dining xmas

The festive season is one for celebration, from couples enjoying a special occasion to family gatherings and office Christmas parties. This year promises to be more jam-packed than usual after the disappointment of the Covid cancellations last Christmas. That’s great news for restaurants, as you can capitalise on the added demand at this time of year with a watertight strategy designed to get diners through your doors. Here, we’ve pulled together ten marketing tips for a great festive season this Christmas.

1) Update your online profiles

Your profile is a place where people get to know more about your restaurant, find answers to their questions and see what other diners are raving about. A strong profile helps you talk up all the ways you make people’s lives easier, whether it’s offering a takeaway service or hosting parties for a special occasion with private dining. Ensure your profile reflects everything provided by the restaurant, so diners can feel excited when browsing, and you can reap the rewards.

2) Delight with festive decorations

Get guests in the mood by turning your restaurant into a winter wonderland. Set the scene by making your spot Instagram friendly with Christmas decorations, from well-placed trees to baubles that complement the look of your restaurant. Showing some Christmas cheer can excite guests and get them to spread the word about the Christmas experience they had at your restaurant.

3) Post Menus online

People want all the latest information about a restaurant at their fingertips so they can make easy dining decisions. Posting menus online is a great way to show guests your current options, especially on special occasions like Christmas, where you can give people a glimpse of your festive menu. An OpenTable survey concluded that 93% of people view menus online before dining out. Having easily accessible menus can help those people decide to celebrate a holiday with you.

4) Add services

Whether you’re known as the restaurant for evening meals out or the place with five-star set menus, now is the time to mix things up a bit. Adding additional services this Christmas is a smart way to boost revenue and get diners tucking in. Promote a brunch menu if you don’t already, create a timeslot for afternoon teas or sell items such as Christmas hampers. That’s what the Wolseley did with its gifts and elegant hampers featuring a range of treats that included loose leaf tea, confectionery boxes filled with shortbreads and even a Sipsmith Dirty Martini kit.

The Wolseley
The Wolseley

5) The gift of email

If ever there’s a time where people are paying more attention to their emails, it’s in the lead up to Christmas. Running an email marketing campaign can get potential diners’ attention and inform them about what’s happening at your restaurant. A well-crafted email that excites readers could be the difference between a sell-out and empty seats. Create personalised emails and share your latest news, whether it’s a festive menu offering, live music on specific nights, or to say Merry Christmas to one-time guests and regulars. They’ll appreciate the sentiment and may just decide it’s time to book a table at your restaurant.

6) Hit the socials

Social media can be your best friend during the festive season. Facebook has previously reported a 26 per cent increase in usage between November and early January, while Instagram has relayed similar numbers. An increasing number of people are spending more time on social media during the holidays, which means you can boost your restaurant’s chances of getting in front of hungry eyes. Run competitions (giving winners a complimentary bottle of bubbly when they dine with you, perhaps?), promote new menus and alert guests to special nights. We’re all scrolling on social media more frequently during the holidays, so join in and promote your restaurant. And if you’re looking for helpful tips about how to improve your social media presence throughout the year, check out OpenTable’s guide and checklist to help you get social with diners.

7) Maximise the lead up to Christmas

Everyone’s thinking about the big day, but the lead up to Christmas offers plenty of opportunities to sell out tables. From Halloween to Guy Fawkes Night, the winter months are seemingly one excuse to dine out after another. As well as Christmas-themed menus, create Halloween-inspired dishes and food options that go off with a bang. Zima in Soho, London is getting in the spirit with a Halloween party experience, which includes an exorcist show, creepy dolls and immersive characters that are sure to give you chills. Take advantage of this busier time of year and maximise different occasions by using unique Christmas experiences for guests to provide them with specialised moments at your restaurant

8) Christmas-themed drinks

This is the season to be jolly, so why not create a Christmas-themed drinks menu for your guests? Now is the time for mulled wine and some Christmas-inspired cocktails. Cinnamon Club previously embraced the season with its festive bauble filled with Opihr spiced gin, cranberry, fennel, rosemary and tonic, garnished with orange peel. But it’s not just alcoholic beverages that will go down a treat this winter. Brainstorm some non-alcoholic ideas and give guests plenty of options for the drinks menu. And don’t forget to take some pictures of your classy cocktails for Instagram to get followers feeling thirsty for your Christmas drinks.

Christmas Drink
The Cinnamon Club

9) Promote gift cards

There’s no better time of the year to offer gift cards as people frantically look for inspiration for the perfect Christmas present. Foodies will rejoice at opening up a gift card from a loved one offering a meal at a tasty restaurant. You can make sure that it’s yours by spreading the word through marketing channels and letting diners know they can buy a gift card for a delicious meal out at your spot.

10) Manage your dining area efficiently

Restaurants are making the most of their seating space since reopening in an effort to meet growing demand. With OpenTable’s new dining areas feature, you can put your best seats forward and provide detailed descriptions about what makes a dining space special at your restaurant. Give guests all the details, from clearly indicating whether it’s inside or outside or a lively bar scene, and manage their expectations before they come through those doors.

Learn about the marketing tools OpenTable has to offer this Christmas

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