7 Unique Restaurant Marketing Ideas For Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day is a holiday centered around showing love and appreciation to that special someone. Since many people choose to celebrate by planning a special night out that includes dinner — the second most popular day to dine out — restaurants are slammed with reservations every year.
As a business owner, this is just the rebound you’re looking for after the holiday dust settles. Although the day of love is technically only one day, you can use these restaurant marketing ideas for Valentine’s Day to help boost your bottom line all week long.
Preparation is Key
Unlike Easter or Thanksgiving, the date for Valentine’s Day never changes — it’s always February 14th. This consistency makes it easier to prepare for the big day when reservations start rolling in. There are a couple of things to keep in mind in the weeks leading up to the holiday.
- Reservation times
According to the National Restaurant Association, the most popular time for reservations is 7 p.m. Make sure there is an adequate number of staff members for the rush.
- Booking window
Over half of customers generally book at least a week in advance. In a perfect world, you might prefer patrons to book further in advance. However, this lead time still allows you to order enough supplies and schedule the right amount of employees.
- Customer spending
According to the National Restaurant Association, in 2020, the average expected spend per person is $196 — up from $161 in 2019. As a restaurant owner, that should be music to your ears.
1. Plan for the Entire Week
This year, Valentine’s Day lands on a Friday, but that isn’t to say that all couples will be able to go out that night. For instance, the majority of your staff will not be celebrating on February 14th since they’ll most likely be working.
Other obligations come up all the time, and it’s your job to be prepared for those who might not be lucky enough to spend Valentine’s Day the way they want.
For the days leading up to Valentine’s Day and a few days after, consider hosting themed game nights or events at your restaurant such as:
- Speed dating
- Couples trivia night
- Lovers lunch
- A wine or beer tasting event
2. Advertise Your Events
Without advertising, how will potential customers know to come to your eatery? Getting the word out to the public isn’t hard; you just have to think of creative ways to stand out.
Partner With Other Small Businesses
Nothing’s better than small business owners helping each other thrive. Reach out to local florists, jewelers, and other boutiques to find ways to cross-promote one another. For example, you can ask for coupons to hand out to your guests for 15 percent off floral arrangements for every couple that dines at your restaurant.
Take Advantage of Social Media and Email Marketing
Social media is the perfect tool for business owners to leverage their services. Get a one-up on the competition by posting across all social channels to spread the word of why customers should choose your restaurant for their special day. Include multiple posting tactics such as eye-catching flyers and imagery, and ads on Google or Facebook.
Don’t underestimate the power of email marketing. Use your POS system to collect email addresses at the point of purchase. Use the customer database to your advantage later by sending email blasts that include coupons and promotional announcements.
3. Create an Attractive Atmosphere and Menu
After the logistics are all planned out, you’re able to move on to the more glamorous tasks like creating an ambiance and a special menu. To entice guests to choose your restaurant over others in the area, you need to offer them a unique experience they can’t find anywhere else.
Spice up Your Menu
Consumers are typically drawn to higher-quality dishes on Valentine’s Day. If resources allow, create a menu that has a range of dishes to appeal to different palates. Depending on what type of cuisine you offer at your restaurant, these are some dishes that’ll be perfect for couples.
- Surf and turf
- Lobster ravioli
- Chicken piccata
- Rack of lamb with mint chimichurri
- Pasta in a pink sauce
- Heart-shaped foods, such as cake or cookies
A simple alternative would be to create quirky beverages that go along with the Valentine’s Day theme.
Some examples of drink and menu item ideas to get inspired by include:
- Cupid Cosmopolitan
- Lover’s Lemondrop
- Love Potion Cocktail
A Dash of Ambiance
In addition to switching up your food and beverage menu, think about how you can change the overall atmosphere of your restaurant. There are so many different ways that you can transform your restaurant into speaking the language of love.
Keeping it simple and classy is key. Add some mood lighting and tea lights on tables and across the bar. Lean on your favorite local florist for some elegant floral arrangements to put on tables or in entryways. You can even take it a step further by asking your servers to wear classy uniforms to give off a high-class vibe.
If the budget allows and you want to step up your game, hire a local jazz musician or violinist. The music is a piece of the puzzle that pulls everything together because it adds a touch of romance without being too noisy and overwhelming to guests.
4. Offer Valentine’s Day Packages
Everyone loves a good deal and a prepackaged plan that eliminates all the guesswork. Build the ultimate Valentine’s night out with these ideas so that customers won’t be able to pass up the chance to dine at your restaurant.
Prix-Fixe Menu Packages
Prix-Fixe menus are menus that offer multi-course meals at a fixed price and are ideal for special occasions like Valentine’s Day. According to the Webstaurant Store, it’s simple menu psychology for guests to be drawn to menus with fewer options because it limits the paradox of choice.
Guests want to feel pampered on Valentine’s Day, so make a prix-fixe menu that creates a sense of luxury. Make sure to offer discounts or complimentary glasses of wine to encourage guests to choose from this menu rather than the traditional fare.
The holiday of amor is one of the most notorious days for proposals. More often than not, guests will call ahead with their ideas to make their proposal as magical as possible. Help those lovebirds (and your employees) by creating a package for guests to book in advance.
- An announcement on a TV or projector
- Complimentary champagne, flowers, or other small gifts
- Offer upgrades or discounts to use at a later date as part of the package deal
The latter is a great hook to get repeat business — especially since the newly engaged couple will have an emotional attachment to your establishment.
5. Design a Personal Experience for Guests
What day is more perfect for making your guests feel special than Valentine’s Day? Take the initiative to give your guests a unique experience that feels like it was created just for them.
These are some simple yet effective ways to make your guests feel extra important:
- Send greeting cards
Voice your appreciation to those who make reservations at least a week in advance.
- Email surveys
Incorporate surveys in your email blasts that ask guests about their preferences of wine, dessert, and any types of treat you can imagine.
- Hire an in-house photographer
Pictures are worth a thousand words, and there’s nothing better than having a keepsake of a special night. Guests will also feel more inclined to post professional photos of themselves on social media, giving you recognition for the event.
6. Host Themed Contests
To get people excited and talking about your restaurant, brainstorm some contests to host during the week of Valentine’s Day. Photo-based social media contests not only get straight to the point and cheap to carry out, but they also create an incentive for some free advertising and in influx of user-generated content.
If you choose to host a Valentine’s Day photo contest, make sure it’s a successful one by factoring in these tips:
- The best or “most liked” picture posted on Instagram wins a prize of your choosing.
- Create a unique hashtag, and include in the rules that participants must use the hashtag as well as tag your restaurant in the post.
- Build “Instagrammable” places for your guests to take photos in your restaurant, such as a rose wall or other theme backdrops.
7. Calling All Non-Couples
Not everyone is one half of a couple. There’s plenty of people out there who will be searching for a way to celebrate their singlehood and NOT having a significant other. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to cater to this crowd as well.
Host events such as “Galentine’s Day” or singles-only happy hour, and ditch the lovey-dovey menu for an anti-Valentine’s Day one. Show your customers that you care and want to be inclusive to families, groups of friends, and anyone else who doesn’t celebrate this holiday.
The Bottom Line
You don’t have to fork out tons of money to completely revamp your restaurant for special occasions. These restaurant marketing ideas for Valentine’s Day are a great way to boost your bottom line without breaking the bank.