Cupid might be busy during February, shooting his magical arrows here, there and everywhere . But you too can do your part by offering guests at your restaurant the perfect romantic setting to enjoy a fantastic Valentine’s dinner where they can fall in love, either with each other or with your food. In this guide, we’ve got everything you need to know about how to turn your spot into a love nest and serve up a memorable Valentine’s day experience for diners.
Make it a Valentine’s weekend
There’s no need to limit your efforts to only February 14th. Instead, use this period to share the love as well as your great menus. Extending your special meals and Valentine’s experiences gives those who can’t attend on the 14th a chance to get in on the action at another time.
After last year’s lockdown, this Valentine’s Day promises to be especially busy as cute couples make up for lost time. That means an uptick in table bookings at a time of year when it’s notoriously hard to find a table on the big day.
However, this year, Valentine’s Day falls on a Sunday. So make the most of the entire weekend, starting the love-in on Friday night and continuing it right through until Monday and giving guests more options in the process. Let people know your restaurant is a Valentine’s Day destination and somewhere where couples can eat in and take out all weekend long.
Start marketing early
The festive period is a time to celebrate for most people, enjoying Christmas and the New Year. But for some, it’s also cuffing season – a time when romantics find relationships for the colder months. Sure, most of these ‘connections’ end up being short term, but some will evolve into fully-fledged relationships. And new couples will be thinking about their first Valentine’s Day nice and early.
As soon as the New Year celebrations have run their course, start marketing your restaurant as the spot for Valentine’s Day and a place where lovers can enjoy a delicious meal. Create special menus, open up your bookings for the big day and generate excitement with marketing comms such as emails, social media posts and anything else that brings more visibility.
Give your guests an experience
Using OpenTable’s Experiences feature allows you to craft magical meal moments that loved-up couples won’t forget. Experiences lets you create unique menus and more, from tasting menus to special meals.
For example, you could even redecorate your restaurant for the night and turn it into Cupid’s love pad with a special tasting menu featuring ingredients known to conjure up feelings of love. Or, you can keep it simple like STK Steakhouse in London’s Strand and offer a date night dinner for two. Whatever you decide, Experiences lets you set yourself apart from other restaurants and provide unique dining opportunities to your guests.
Get creative with your menu
Valentine’s Day is arguably one time in the year where you can embrace puns and go a little OTT. Have fun with your menus and set the mood by renaming your starters, main courses, desserts and drinks.
If you have a cocktail menu, start getting ready to serve a ‘first kiss’, ‘it was love from the start’, and other indulgent names that would get eyes rolling at any other time of the year. Changing the food and drink names on your menu is a small touch, but it helps get people in the mood and feel good about the big date night.
Sharing is caring
Shareable plates can be a topic for debate amongst restaurant-goers, especially if they’re looking forward to tucking into their own meal. At Valentine’s, however, sharing really is caring, and it’s a great opportunity to promote shareable dishes.
What’s more romantic than a couple going back and forth, saying, ‘no, you have the last bite’, while cooing eyes with each other? Honour the love with a range of sharing plates designed to bring couples even closer together.
Don’t forget about takeaways
Hopefully restaurants will be packed to capacity come February 14th, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect your takeaway service. Some couples prefer to stay in, all cosied up on the sofa in front of a movie. And with a takeaway option, you can make sure they’re enjoying your food while they watch a rom-com or two.
Use online platforms like Deliveroo and UberEats to amend menus and offer special Valentine’s takeaway meals that couples can enjoy at home. Ideally, everyone will want to dine at your restaurant during Valentine’s. But for those who can’t, let them enjoy your food at home.
Offer VIP bookings and use data
Make couples feel special this Valentine’s Day by going through your previous covers and seeing who previously dined in your restaurant. Then send an email inviting them to early access bookings. Doing so will make them feel like valued customers while offering the chance to secure a table before you sell out.
There are other ways you can benefit from data, too. Look at the dishes that were popular in previous years by integrating your OpenTable and POS system so you can see which menus were most profitable. You can then bring these back for this year’s menu and give returning guests the option of ordering past favourites.
Use Valentine’s Day as a springboard for other special days
Once the fun is over and Valentine’s Day is in the bag, you can still get some juice out of the occasion. Create an email campaign and send thank you notes to everyone who booked a table, letting them know how much you appreciated their visit. You can also track ROI on email campaigns with OpenTable’s relationship management features.
You can also use the email to remind them about upcoming events like Mother’s Day and Easter. It’s a great way to build loyal diners and keep them in the loop about future events at your spot. You may even want to consider adding incentives, such as free desserts on future visits.
Point cupid’s arrow at your restaurant
Valentine’s Day often proves to be one of the busiest times of the year for restaurants, and it gives you an opportunity to sell out tables. With OpenTable’s tips, you can get the most out of Valentine’s Day this year, from diners booking a table to guests ordering a takeaway.