Few sectors have been harder hit by the pandemic than hospitality. Across Australia, restaurants, cafes and bars have adapted and evolved to alleviate the impacts of a once-in-a-generation event.
While there is optimism that 2022 will provide more stability than years past, businesses must build long-term strategies to maximise revenue year-round, and especially for notable holidays.
In the hospitality industry, no single day is bigger than Valentine’s Day.
However, capitalising on such an important day for diners requires proactivity and strategy. Venues who simply sit back and wait for bookings to come rolling in will struggle against those who are strategic and savvy when it comes to their diner data.
Here are a few strategies for restaurant owners to consider, not just for Valentine’s Day but moving forward in the new era of post-pandemic dining.
Use guest data to build deeper relationships
Owning and utilising guest data is essential for businesses in many industries today.
Consider Amazon and Spotify, both of which create tailored shopping recommendations and curated playlists based for users. In just the same way, data has huge potential to drive loyalty in the hospitality industry too – both long-term and for Valentine’s Day.
In fact, a 5% increase in guest retention can lead to a 95% increase in profits, so use data to build deeper relationships with your customers this Valentine’s Day.
By asking guests to order directly rather than through a third-party, your business can collect approved guest data and turn those insights into experiences they will love.
Offer your repeat guests access to limited edition dishes, special wine pairings for big spending guests, or even a special ‘cook-at-home menu’ for your online regulars.
And don’t alienate single diners or larger groups. Data from SevenRooms shows that roughly one in six Valentine’s Day bookings this year are for groups of three or more, so inform your guests that they’re welcome, whether they’re in a couple or not.
Happy, loyal customers are more valuable, so spoil them with memorable, data-driven guest experiences, whether it’s Valentine’s Day or just a slow Monday in winter.
Enhance your online presence
With social distancing restrictions and a recent surge in cases, it might not be possible to host the same volume of guests as years past.
Restaurants, bars and cafes are more tech-savvy than ever, so use your online presence to cater to those who won’t – or can’t – dine out this Valentine’s Day.
Building a custom landing page, for example, makes it easy for guests to review your menu, make a booking and see what romantic experiences they can expect from your venue. Use social media and automated email marketing to stay top of mind.
Data from SevenRooms shows that there has been a 296% increase in Aussies making reservations more than 25 days out from Valentine’s Day this year vs. 2021, so use your online channels to encourage them to act quickly before they’re disappointed.
To ensure you’re not steering customers to third-parties, update your preferred ordering and booking links on Google to your direct channels. Make ‘Book Now’ and ‘Order Now’ buttons prominent across your website, Google listing and social media.
The easier it is for guests to engage directly, the better it is for your business. And use white-label technology solutions, like SevenRooms, to ensure your brand is front-and-center, while being backed up by a holistic, data-driven platform.
Owning your branding helps operators build a relationship from the first interaction while boosting future loyalty, which is essential in Australia’s competitive hospitality sector.
Develop a 360-degree business this Valentine’s Day
The convenience of takeout and delivery is as strong as ever. SevenRooms research from 2021 revealed that one in three Aussies will dine out less than before the pandemic.
And while dining out is the preference for many, a romantic home-cooked meal is the go-to for others. With a 360-degree approach, you can cater to both this Valentine’s Day.
For example, if you’re fully-booked, ensure your customers know that your kitchen is open for delivery. Or, through your data, identify frequent orders and use automated email marketing to share details of special Valentine’s Day meal kits or wine pairings.
Developing a 360-degree approach, optimising your online channels and unlocking your guest data are fantastic ways to capitalise on not just Valentine’s Day, but succeed long-term. However, don’t overlook the novelty factor that the big day provides.
Make the day extra special
While Aussies don’t need excuses to dine out, make it irresistible this Valentine’s Day. For example, consider making menu upgrades, or temporarily renaming your menu, with appetizers becoming ‘first kiss’ or desserts becoming “sweet surrender”.
We all love a special occasion, so turn that into the memorable experiences guests remember and recommend. For example, offer upgrades – such as a bottle of prosecco or a red rose on arrival – at the point of booking.
Doing so drives incremental revenue and reduces no-shows because guests have already committed payment. While it may sound like mere novelty factor, it creates a unique experience that guests aren’t accustomed to usually. These experiences standout.
While 2022 hasn’t been the rosy picture many of us hoped, treat the upcoming Valentine’s Day as not just a one-off opportunity, but the start of a new chapter.
By unlocking your data and offering genuinely meaningful and memorable guest experiences, your business will be better positioned to drive loyalty and increase revenue, whether it’s a special occasion or just another day of the week.
Paul Hadida is the General Manager at SevenRooms in the Asia-Pacific region