7 Creative Holiday Restaurant Promotions

holiday restaurant promotions
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While the 2020 holidays will certainly arrive like no other holiday season before, there’s no reason not to celebrate. This has been one of the most difficult years for restaurants nationwide, so if you’ve made it, you should celebrate! While you may not be in the holiday spirit right now, these quick and creative holiday restaurant promotions may spark some holiday cheer.

Whether you’re rethinking your takeout menu or starting to see snowfall, rest assured that we are here to help. With plenty of helpful tips for restaurant holiday promotions below, we’ve got you covered for this exciting, albeit tricky, season.

1. Carryout: Everything But the Bird

This year, many restaurants offered takeout Thanksgiving meals for those who would normally dine out on the big day or just needed a little help pulling the meal together. This was a super easy move for restaurants that already use online platforms for ordering takeout. And if your restaurant is a local favorite around the holidays, providing a to-go meal with “everything but the bird” is a great hack into some extra sales.

Ask yourself, “What’s the one dish that my customers keep coming back for?” Maybe it’s a specialty curry or rich mac n’ cheese. Whatever it is, plan your to-go package around it. Most families have a plan for their main dish and a side that they can’t get the kids to the table without. You can easily add to this fun by supplying a mix of special sides their family is used to eating at your restaurant but might miss out on without your help.

Do what you can to streamline the ordering process online, and then get the word out. Advertise your special on your website or social media, or consider planning a coupon around it. You could even hold a business card fishbowl raffle and allow your customers to enter for the chance to win “everything but the bird.”

downloadable guide with marketing strategy to bring in new customers to your restaurant

2. Create an Exclusive Seasonal Dish

Diners love seasonal menu items—peppermint mochas at Christmastime, pumpkin spiced beverages in the fall, corned beef and hash around St. Patrick’s Day, and so on. Limited releases of fan favorites can be a great marketing opportunity for restaurants.

Think about McDonald’s McRib. Consumers now expect this menu item to show up in the fall, and when it does, people can’t get enough of it. McDonald’s has even released an app to help people find the nearest McRib location. But even though BBQ pork sandwiches certainly aren’t a traditional fall food, the exclusivity around this menu item sends consumers running to a McDonald’s location year after year.

To replicate this at a local level, think about a dish your restaurant could serve. Can your bakery make a scrumptious pumpkin roll for the fall? Or maybe your restaurant could serve a phenomenal beef stew in the winter? Whatever it is, make sure the dish is unique to your restaurant, meets the same standards as the rest of your menu, and can reasonably be associated with a particular season.

Then, hype it up! Make it clear that the dish is a limited time offer, and when the season is done, take it off your menu. The next year, those that haven’t tried it before may come in just to see what all the fuss is about. And for those loyal patrons of yours that couldn’t get enough of it, they’ll flood your doors just trying to get a bite of their favorite seasonal dish.

3. Wrap it up!

After decades of exchanging holiday gift cards, Americans are used to spotting a tiny rectangular package under or on the tree. Surprise your customers with your own version, which you could add a little Willy Wonka flair to.

Give out 100 mystery presents to your customers. 95 of these can be low-priced incentives, and the other 5 will be “big-ticket” $50 gift cards. Then, bring a little present all wrapped up to the table with their check, or slip it into their to-go bag. Even the grumpiest scrooges will get excited by the chance to unwrap a gift and win a prize.

For the “presents” themselves, get your team involved. If your staff usually rolls up silverware at the start of a shift or helps get the restaurant all set up before service, add this fun holiday task to the mix.

For all the “presents” you want to wrap up without the winning ticket, consider wrapping up a little coupon for your restaurant. You can mount it on a little cardboard, or wrap it with one layer of tissue paper, then one layer of wrapping paper for an easy surprise. If you print out the winning $50 gift certificate and make sure it’s the same size and shape as your coupon, the whole process will be even more mysterious and fun.

This type of holiday restaurant promotion is remarkable. As in, your customers will want to literally remark to all of their friends and family about this great idea. From there, customers will definitely pop in to try their luck, and once they have a coupon or gift card, they’ll have to return.

4. Create Helpful Video Tutorials

It’s no secret that food is at the center of the holiday spirit. Your restaurant can capitalize on this by creating video tutorials that provide valuable content around cooking and meal planning for the holidays. Video is a great way to reach an audience that’s looking for step-by-step visual content, plus most social media and email platforms make it incredibly easy to share with your followers.

Your tutorials could include:

  • How to cook a turkey in your restaurant’s signature style
  • Etiquette rules for ordering from a local restaurant
  • How to pick the freshest fruits and veggies from your local grocery store
  • Tips for plating and presenting your holiday meal

5. Give Back in a Big Way

It’s important to share what you can during the holidays, and what better way than by organizing a charity dinner? While many businesses are forfeiting their holiday party this year, this could be a great way to get people in to celebrate a great cause.

Offer to split the proceeds with your favorite local charity or a restaurant relief fund in your area. To comply with social distancing guidelines, you can sell two-tiers of tickets.

The first will be for a drive-through dinner. Guests will pay a lower ticket price to drive through and pick up their meal. The second upgraded ticket will be for guests who want to sit down and enjoy their meal inside. And since your indoor capacity is limited, these exclusive tickets can be sold for a higher price. For you, it’ll look like business as usual — but hopefully with a lot more business.

Try to partner with other local shops to build a greater offer for your customers. Is there a local brewery or wine retailer that wants to get in on the action? A bakery that would love to create a sweet, decorative masterpiece? Reach out and ask them if they want to get involved. Anything they donate will benefit the cause and promote brand familiarity in your community.

The more partners you have, the more your restaurant will be promoted through their advertising of the event. Plus, anything donated can be written off. With December quickly coming to a close, this can be a great way to secure one last tax write-off.

6. Spread the Holiday Cheer

Wondering how to get the word out? Take to social media and rally your user base. Reach out to any local “influencers” or friends and family and ask them to share the post. If you’re working hyper-locally, you’ll get the word out in no time, and people will be excited to have found something to do in their community during this unpredictable holiday season.

Otherwise, if you’re looking for a fast, effective way to share your holiday coupons or promotions, you might look into grocery store advertising. No matter what happens this winter, you can count on grocery stores to remain open, so they’re a great platform for reaching local customers. Plus, grocery stores bring in thousands of shoppers every day (and more-so due to holiday dinner shopping), so a campaign that reaches every single shopper means huge results.

7. The Easiest Advertising Possible

An easy option is coupon receipt advertising. Through this form of grocery store advertising, you can run your holiday restaurant promotions or coupons on the back of every single shopper’s receipt. That means huge savings for you in print and ink costs and a guaranteed way to reach thousands of locals in your community.

With this plan, the right supermarket advertisement can quickly promote your holiday deals or be used throughout the year when you have an even bigger event to celebrate.

With grocery store advertising, you know you’re keeping your message local and reaching the people who matter most. Your local community is looking for a chance to save a buck; this holiday season, you can be the one to make that Christmas wish come true.

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