Valentine’s Day, one of the most important days of the year for restaurant owners, is just around the corner.
If you don’t feel that way, think again: most restaurants rank Valentine’s Day as the second busiest day of the year.
Filling your restaurant on Valentine’s Day is just good sense. An average consumer spends almost $150 for Valentine’s Day—why would you miss out on that?
Most importantly, US stats show that 25% of people eat out on Valentine’s Day, making it the second most popular dining holiday of the year after Mother’s Day.
The verdict is clear: this holiday is the perfect chance for you to fill your restaurant with people craving great food and memorable experiences.
With this guide, you’ll learn two sets of strategies:
- Local marketing and visitor experience
- Online marketing in order to reach ideal restaurant guests
You will also get your best guests to return to your restaurant time and time again. Let’s get started!
#1: Offer a Valentine’s Day Menu (and Eliminate Decision Fatigue)
Among the top three factors for choosing a specific restaurant on Valentine’s Day is the availability of a special menu or promotions.
(The other two are romantic atmosphere and an already-favorite restaurant.)
There are likely two reasons for this.
First, choosing to eat in a restaurant that offers Valentine-specific meals, early bird deals, and couple offers makes the whole act of going to that restaurant special and memorable. If you name your offers in a way that aligns with your usual style and tone, you’ll make it hard to forget.
(Also, these are usually money-saving options for your guests compared to the standard menu, which they’ll love!)
Your guests who have spent a day at work and want to unwind and relax with their partner over a good meal just want options that are easy to choose from.
How are Valentine’s Day special options different than any other deal you might be offering?
Easy: they’re not.
It’s all about how you package them and, most importantly, label and theme them as Valentine’s Day specials.
For example, you can put together a set of two or three courses and offer it exclusively on Valentine’s Day with a fixed discounted price compared to the standard price.
Another example is adding Valentine-themed cocktails or desserts.
Finally, if you want to attract more guest categories beyond couples, you can create themed menus or meals for friends, single people, Galentine’s day, or anything under the sun that appeals to your typical restaurant demographic.
#2: Create a Unique Valentine’s Day Experience Beyond Dining
Your goal is to attract people who can physically come to your restaurant on Valentine’s Day, so why not focus on local marketing and the power of being connected with your nearby communities?
In other words, you can partner up with businesses close to your location to design a full-day or even a multiple-day experience that goes beyond an hour or two of dining.
See if you can reach out to local businesses such as:
- A hotel to offer an overnight stay along with the dinner
- A wellness studio to offer a couple’s massage or a full spa experience on the day of the dinner
- Local florists or jewelers to offer discounts when they refer customers for Valentine’s Day to you and vice versa
- Local businesses that offer events such as cooking classes or yoga classes for couples
How you customize this step depends entirely on you.
If you do these partnerships right, you will not only fuel local economy, but attract restaurant guests that will keep coming back to you because of an outstanding experience you provided.
#3: Presell Valentine’s Day Table Bookings
The sure-fire way to have a full restaurant on Valentine’s day until the moment your doors close for the night is by selling your table reservations in advance.
There are many benefits in this for your guests, including:
- Getting the best meal price in advance
- Finalizing their Valentine’s Day plans in advance
- Securing a table ahead of time rather that hoping to find one on the day
Selling table bookings in advance provides a simple yet powerful way to provide a peace of mind to your guests.
It also allows for financial clarity, which is crucial, especially when you take the $100+ average spend per person on Valentine’s day.
How can you easily presell table reservations ahead of time without giving yourself or your staff a headache?
Easy: with jumper’s Events feature.
Instead of using the standard order-taking account in jumper, you can create a jumper account that is aimed at selling event tickets and adjust it for table bookings.
Once you’ve gone through the initial account setup walkthrough, you can head to the Events > Add new option in the left-hand side menu of your jumper dashboard.
From here, you can enter all the details including event name, hashtag (which also makes up the link), image, short description, and details.
Make sure to use the name to identify the time which this event represents. By following this logic, you’ll ensure you don’t overbook your restaurant or double book a table.
In the details section, enter everything in relation to your Valentine’s Day special, such as meals included, special discounts, drinks, and more.
Lower on the page, you can enter the time and date for this booking, as well as the date when the bookings end. Finally, enter pricing and location, and hit Save event.
And voila—you can now sell your table bookings in advance on autopilot! The automated sequence will lead your guests through the checkout process, freeing you from manual, administrative work of taking pre-sales inquiries.
The only thing left for you to do is to spread the word about your restaurant using your main restaurant link with all available bookings.
#4: Reach More Potential Guests With Organic and Paid Social Media
Social media is the place people search for Valentine’s Day deals and offers from restaurants.
This is why the first key step to showing up as a preferred option is keeping all your social media accounts updated.
That means ensuring your accounts:
- Look highly visually appealing
- Are up-to-date with your Valentine’s deals
- Include relevant links for current offers
- Highlight key operating details like opening hours, locations, and other relevant details
This will maximize your chances of pushing potential guests further into your ecosystem and eventually getting them to pre-book their table at your restaurant, which you’ve enabled in the previous step.
However, if you don’t have a large enough reach on social media with your existing following, there’s no reason to panic or dismiss the social media option altogether.
There’s a simple and low-cost way to reach your target restaurant guests: Facebook ads.
The benefit of Facebook ads is that they are relatively easy to set up and, most importantly, quickly show results. Instead of waiting for weeks and months to see organic results, Facebook ads can achieve results the same day they go live.
First, here are some of the results you can aim to achieve with your Facebook ads:
- Clicks on your jumper restaurant page or on individual times for bookings, which lead to automated checkout
- Starting a Messenger conversation that leads to a booking or even a simple conversation (if you have the capacity to interact with potential guests)
- Comments on your post with a #hashtag that, again, leads to an automated checkout
The best part about Facebook ads is that you can get super specific about the location and the characteristics of people who see your ad.
Here’s a simple, but powerful example of location targeting combined with detailed targeting:
By dropping a pin at your restaurant’s location, along with adding people who are in a relationship or married, is a sure-fire way to target people who are most likely to be on the lookout for a great Valentine’s Day dining option.
If you want to make sure you’ll make the most out of your Valentine’s Day Facebook campaign, make sure to follow our other Facebook ads guide, including Facebook ad formats, beginner’s guide, and advanced guide to Facebook targeting.
#5: Run a Valentine’s Day Instagram Contest
To make the most out of organic promotion on social media, create a Valentine-themed Instagram contest.
The benefit of social media contests is the engagement it sparks and the reach it receives in return. If you look at any consumer brand’s Instagram page, you’ll notice that the most popular posts, often garnering 10X the usual number of comments, are contests.
As with anything else you do to market your restaurant, make sure you clearly define the desired outcome.
Do you want more followers?
Do you want email subscribers?
Want more people to know about your Valentine’s Day special offer?
Even though your answer might include all of these, it’s important to choose just one. This way, you can create specific and simple contest guidelines and, in turn, get more people to participate.
Depending on what you chose as your main goal for the contest, you can encourage contest entrants to:
- Share your image and add a unique caption while using a hashtag you specified (to increase reach)
- Follow your account and tag their partner that they want to share the Valentine’s Day dinner with
- Sign up for your email list and leave a comment saying they did
Your contest will only be as successful as the level of desire that people have for your prize.
The best thing about Instagram contests is that you can offer whatever you want and have the budget for.
A free Valentine’s Day dinner for two?
A significant discount for Valentine’s Day dinner?
A voucher for your restaurant?
A free/discounted offer from one of the local businesses you’ve partnered up with?
A bottle of wine?
Make sure your prize attracts the right kind of people and is enticing enough to get them to participate.
Bonus: Build an Ongoing Relationship and Gain Return Visitors
All of the strategies we’ve covered culminate on Valentine’s Day itself. That’s the moment your Valentine’s Day guests will decide if they want to come back for more dining experiences in your restaurant.
The first key to making sure they do is an obvious one—be an amazing host. Make sure you deliver on the promises and offers you made when promoting your Valentine’s Day menus and deals and make your guests feel pampered.
The second, much less obvious, way to gaining a long-term restaurant guest is building an ongoing online relationship with them that is as high-quality as the one offline.
In other words, use email marketing to stay connected with them and deliver highly relevant and attractive deals and messages into their inbox.
If you’ve used our strategies from above, the chances are you already have their email, so here are some ways to make the most out of it:
- Send personalized offers (you know they enjoy special occasions and exclusive deals, so why not offer them some more?)
- Show them behind-the-scenes of your food preparation process and introduce your team
- Send tips and recipes for the type of food you serve
- Announce new menu items ahead of time (and organize an exclusive tasting if you can!)
The ideas are endless—these are just a few to inspire you to build a deeper connection with your guests.
The Time to Start With These Strategies is Now
There’s not much time left until Valentine’s Day, so make sure you have your promotional strategy for this special occasion in place before February kicks in.
As the day approaches, make sure all of your systems and processes are in place so that you can provide the best experience for your guests, as well as for your staff.
To make every step easier, make sure you try out jumper’s features for preselling table booking and online food ordering. Create your jumper account to get started now—it’s quick, easy, and free to do so!