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Champagne

As most restaurateurs know, between Thanksgiving and the New Year, restaurants will generate sales representing about 25 percent of their total annual revenue. In tandem with increased sales, the goodwill of the holiday season often results in significantly higher incomes for tipped staff members such as servers and bartenders. Celebratory and family-oriented meals represent a higher number of covers per table as well as an increased spend on alcoholic beverages, which offer a higher margin of revenue.

Foster Repeat Business Opportunities by Creating Special Dining Events

Fostering repeat business among your most loyal patrons is gold when it comes to generating positive reviews. Consider, for example, featuring special table d’hôte of holiday dishes from around the world with regional specialties not usually featured on your menu. Send a special invite to your mailing list, and incentivize attendees by giving them discounts, vouchers, or raffle tickets for participating in each of the events.

Many restaurants begin a seasonal feature right after Thanksgiving and close with a gala event on New Year’s Eve. By featuring unique flavors not regularly present in your menu, you are likely to secure highlight reviews from customers who have already reviewed you but now have something special or unique to brag about on popular review websites.

(Check out: “Attention, Retailers: The Numbers You Need to Know on How Online Reviews Influence Holiday Shoppers”)

Promote Gift-Card Deals

The perception of increased value can do a ton when it comes to having customers feel an affinity toward a business. Consider running a bonus promotion on the sale of gift cards, allowing your regular patrons to become your promoters when they give the cards away to friends and family, and giving them that little extra to spend on themselves in the form of a free bonus gift card in association with their gift-card purchase.

Keep in mind that 2 to 20 percent of cards go unredeemed, and most gift-card users will end up spending at least 20 percent over the value of their gift card. Therefore, running a promo featuring a value-based proposition is a win-win for all. As new customers have the opportunity to experience your dining venue for free or at minimal cost to them thanks to the gift card, you stand a great chance of receiving a glowing review. 

Hire Seasonal Staff to Meet Increased Demand

Don’t take risks when it comes to your online reputation. Make staffing plans designed to meet the increased demand to ensure every patron receives a consistent and high-quality dining experience. We make this recommendation with a special caveat: when it comes to seasonal staff, training does matter. Make sure your new team members receive sufficient training and are able to deliver experiences that are equal to or better than the ones created by your permanent staff.

When it comes to holiday dining, issues with delays in service will without a doubt blemish your online reputation by triggering negative reviews from customers left hanging. 

Consider Targeted Social Advertising with Check-ins as a Hook

The holiday season is the perfect time to test the effectiveness of targeted local advertising using social platforms. With many people having budgeted money for entertaining, it is simply smart to expand your reach by pushing relevant ads to highly segmented groups in your geographical region. A socially-based ad is likely to push customers your way with a predisposition to have great affinity with your venue. If said customers encounter experiences that are tailor-made to their preferences, then not only will you gain new customers but you will also garner their loyalty, advocacy, and possibly a superior review. Check out our best tips to increase your check-ins volume across all apps. 

Do Awesome Things for Your “Smallest” Customers

There is no better way to the heart of parents than through taking good care of their little ones. During the holiday season, families are often stressed, busy, and overwhelmed. Put together programs, amenities, and menus aimed to cater to the smallest ones of the bunch. Restaurants that demonstrate sincere care in handling families frequently receive compliments on location and superior scores when exhausted parents receive encouragement, relief, and comfort from their favorite local restaurant. Catering to kids does not have to be fancy, but it must be thoughtful and seek to create a pleasant environment not only for families but also for other diners.

For this reason, it is important to select amenities and features that are not disruptive and that help keep little ones busy and well behaved. Avoid kid toys and items that make noise. Instead, select gifts that keep the little ones occupied and entertained quietly at their tables. 

Incentivize Large Format Cocktails

The holidays are a time of celebration, and diners will head to places offering value and quality. Many restaurants launch seasonal offerings with large format cocktails or extended happy hours to increase seasonal traffic. Keeping in mind that beverage sales can make or break a dining venue, good planning of bar promotions presents a fantastic opportunity to encourage customer loyalty and deliver experiences worthy of online bragging. Make your cocktails beautiful, and encourage picture-sharing via social channels. 

Host Private Events and Offer Catering Offsite

If your location is likely to be booked beyond capacity but you still want to maximize revenue opportunities while earning the loyalty and affection of current and new customers, then consider private, off-location events and catering options. A well-catered event will not only increase your visibility but also provide additional revenue beyond what you can generate with full-house bookings. Because of the complexity of a well-executed private party and the personal dedication it demands, it is not uncommon for customers to leave extensive feedback on review websites when they receive a superior experience.

In a similar fashion, if you drop the ball, a patron who has invested significant monies in hosting a party will likely post a negative review. If you do decide to offer catering and offsite events, then make sure you have all your ducks in a row.

We wish each of our restaurant partners a successful and profitable holiday season. We look forward to supporting your review strategy during the next few months of high-volume review activity. If you are not yet monitoring your restaurant reviews, then let us show you what we can do for you. Take a tour of our review management platform designed specifically to provide small and medium businesses with a big picture of their reputation landscape.

Crystal Shuller

Crystal is the Director of Customer Happiness for ReviewTrackers. She's known around the office for E-mails that make everyone smile, and she has a bag of tricks and tips to help businesses solve their problems and delight their customers.

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