Capture Valentine’s Dining Out Crowd

valentines day restaurant trafficValentine’s Day is one of the prime days on any restaurateur’s calendar, and there are ways you can capture the Valentine’s dining out crowd and increase traffic in your establishment. Plus, this year the romantic holiday falls on a Friday, improving dining out odds even more.

According to National Restaurant Association (NRA), this holiday is second only to Mother’s Day for restaurants, so you’ll want to get your share of the action to help boost your bottom line. The NRA estimated that 25 percent of Americans dine out on Valentine’s Day.

Boost Traffic in Your Restaurant on Valentine’s Day

In addition to more folks choosing to dine out on Valentine’s Day, they’re also more likely to spend more. Restaurant Hospitality cites an OpenTable survey in which patrons were prepared to spend almost $140 on the restaurant check on Valentine’s Day, which far exceeds the typical $85 tab for couples dining out.

On the other hand, some couples eschew dining out on February 14th because of the crowds. The weather may also play a role in lovebirds avoiding dining out. With the most romantic of holidays plunked down in the middle of winter, there’s little you can do about the weather, but that doesn’t mean you can’t capitalize on the holiday.

To start, you can extend the holiday. By offering specials from February 13th through the 15th, you can help capture practical folks who want to avoid the crowds or plan around the weather, especially if inclement weather is predicted to occur on the holiday. This is especially true for 2014. Whether or not the weather impacts plans, it’s a good idea to offer Valentine’s Day specials on the day after – a Saturday and a prime date night.

Valentine’s Decorations and Gifts

Make your establishment special for the holiday. Patrons are coming in to celebrate romance, so do your part to enhance their experience. Dim the lighting, add candles (if you don’t already use them), and choose romantic music. Offer a special gift like a rose or exquisite chocolates for the ladies. Also consider a complimentary glass of champagne or wine.

Keep in mind that a reasonable percentage of the lovebirds who walk through your door to celebrate the holiday may be on a first date or early in a romantic relationship. Helping them to create a special memory now enhances the chance that they’ll return again and again. You’re not simply catering to them for a single evening, you’re building repeat customers.

POS Sector’s “Promotion on Valentine’s Day” suggests using a lot of reds, pinks, and hearts in your decorations, but make certain that what you select blends well with the overall look of your establishment.

It’s Not Too Late

With the speed of social media and email marketing, it’s actually not too late to promote for Valentine’s Day. Some guys wait until the last minute anyway. Create your promotion and special offer and blast away for the next few days.

Speaking of guys, the vast majority would prefer to receive a restaurant gift card as a Valentine’s gift. NRA research shows that 31 percent of men hold this preference, so why not mention this to the ladies who walk through your doors before the holiday?

You have four more days to capture the Valentine’s dining out crowd, so don’t wait another day. You can provide a special dining experience for patrons, create repeat customers, and boost your bottom line.