If you thought the arrival of Valentine’s day brings excitement to couples only, think again. This first big event of the year which gives restaurants and hotels a chance to deck up after the Christmas decorations are packed away is plump with possibilities to showcase a restaurant in many ways.
It’s a given that for most couples, and now increasingly friends, colleagues and families, choose to celebrate love with a lunch or dinner at a restaurant on Valentine’s Day. So how do you make sure your restaurant is the most sought after V-day venue?
Like everything, this calls for some advance planning too. But before that, it’s important to evaluate the kind of restaurant you are – a fine dining restaurant, a lounge bar, a dessert, and ice-cream bar, a five-star hotel’s restaurant…
Varun Pereira of Sly Granny says `destination restaurants’ which offer ambiance, a certain premium fare, and are known for being classy are usually the ones that become the pick of couples celebrating Valentine’s Day. “Most people would like to impress their dates and thus make these destination restaurants their first choice. ‘’ They could be stand-alone or in a five-star hotel. A special occasion demands a special place to dine.
Knowing what category you fall into will help you plan an appropriate Valentine’s day offering for your customers. If you are a burger joint, you will definitely not be offering limousine services to pick up and drop off your guests. Nor will you go to great lengths to stock up your bar with an expensive inventory. So knowing your category and who your clients are will help you tailor your offerings for maximum impact.
Plan ahead:Any promotion needs to be planned well in advance. Xerxes Bodhanwala of The Red Fork in Bangalore recalls when he was doing specially curated menus and sit down dinners for Valentine’s Day a few years ago, he would start planning as early as January. “Once your plan is in place, you can start spreading the word, around the end of January or the beginning of February, going aggressive with the publicity, closer to the date. ‘’
Mode of publicity: Various restaurateurs swear by different modes of publicity. If you have a budget and conventional advertising has worked for you in the past or you’re trying it for the first time, ensure you get a good place/position in the newspaper. Around this time, many newspapers offer attractive discounts for Valentine’s day promotions to advertisers. So you have to ensure that your restaurant’s ad does not get lost in the clutter of V-day ads.
Also, it pays not to put all your eggs in one basket or invest your entire advertising budget on just one kind of publicity. Most restaurateurs now use social media to publicise events at their restaurant. You can choose to employ a variety of publicity options – conventional advertising – newspaper, billboards, pamphlets radio or local cable channels, word of mouth publicity, social media and even tent cards and posters inside your restaurant announcing the upcoming Valentine’s Day specials. Don’t forget to send out mailers to your regular customers.
Create a special experience: Yes, we all know that people come to a restaurant to eat but surely on a special day, you can give them something to talk about? If your restaurant has a youthful vibe and is a young people’s hangout, you could create something that will connect with your audience – perhaps a photo booth with a backdrop or Instant photos with couples carrying typographic cards saying “Awesome Twosome’’ or something funny.
Ambience: Again, depending on the kind of restaurant, you could go from red and white colour schemes to a more classy décor of candles and roses, special table linen, a playlist of romantic songs, and other decorations to deck up your restaurant. Don’t forget to do up the façade of the restaurant too. Some restaurants get their waitstaff to add a V-day accessory to their uniforms – either heart badges or even an entirely different uniform.
Special menu: Coming to the food, which is the main appeal of your restaurant, it should naturally match up to the mood of the occasion. Says Bodhanwala, “In the past, we have tried a specially curated meal, sit down dinners with candles and the works. Since most people come to our restaurant for food, that is our main focus.’’
Beverages: A specially crafted beverages menu will also be an excellent way to not only create exciting drinks with romantic names, but it will also help you increase the bill value per table.
Collaborations: Valentine’s Day will draw people in if you have collaborations with partners, who can add value to your offerings. If food is your specialty, you can collaborate with a beverage partner to offer it with a meal at a discount. Champagne and wines are in huge demand for a celebratory meal. With special collaborations, you can give your guests a special offering.
Another important thing to remember is not to add interactive events to your evening’s offerings. Most couples would like to be left alone for some me-time. Allow for it and facilitate their celebration with impeccable service and fine food.
With all these plans in action at your restaurant, get ready to welcome a wave of customers celebrating their love on Valentine’s Day!