My mind was blown when I learned that it’s a widespread tradition for Jews go to Chinese restaurants on Christmas Day in America. This tradition goes back many decades to a time when Chinese restaurants were among the few restaurants that were open on Christmas Day. Although more restaurants now remain open for Christmas Day, only 8 percent of Americans visit restaurants or bars on Christmas Day itself.

Despite the low number of diners on Christmas Day, the holiday season remains a prime time for restaurants to attract diners looking to celebrate or avoid preparing meals at home. The end of the year is a time for both celebration and reflection. It is a time when families come together, and businesses celebrate the successes of the year. It is also a time for stressful shopping and busy schedules which makes dining out seem a welcome break.

However, this is also a time in which we are inundated with marketing messages from almost everywhere. This makes it important that your holiday marketing messages stand out and offer something of value. This could be anything from creating an emotional connection such as nostalgia or humor or a diversion from holiday stress. In the spirit of the holiday season, we have curated the best holiday marketing ideas for your restaurant.

Plan Early

You should always start your planning of holiday campaigns early. Reservations will need to be carefully booked, and your staff will need to be prepared for the extra efforts required for holiday customers such as larger groups. You can also offer discounts for early bookings to fill up your catering and party reservations.

Show Your Spirit

The holiday season is typically one of high spirits, and you should show that your restaurant shares in this. Some ideas include:

  • Making things personal by showing off your staff in a festive way.
  • Add some holiday cheer to your social media cover pages.
  • Decorate your establishment.
  • Show off unique holiday menu items.

Partner with a local charity and make a donation

Holidays are a time of the year where people are more inclined to be reflective of those less fortunate. Restaurants can help by hosting a fundraiser, providing food for a needy family, or encouraging others to donate. Some other ideas include giving proceeds from a particular menu item or from a select night to a charity. We have also seen restaurants offer a meal to the needy for every meal served.

Participating in charitable activities benefit your community and helps grow brand awareness by introducing your establishment to new customers. We believe that partnering with charities in your community is in itself a rewarding experience. Do good, feel good!

Promote Your Holiday Specials On Social Media

In 2016, nearly 70 percent of business referrals were derived from social media or email, according to a study by Nielsen. Create eye-popping graphics to complement your holiday offers, and encourage your restaurant’s followers to share your promotions with their networks. Word-of-mouth remains a powerful marketing tactic, and social media is the ideal platform to leverage referrals during the holiday season.

Don’t Forget Email

Amplify the reach of your promotions by offering holiday specials through an email marketing campaign. Give them a reason to visit you by providing them a tempting deal such as a two-for-one meal special, a discount on group or corporate events, or a unique holiday-themed menu item that’s only available for a limited time.

Create a promotional holiday video

Videos receive more engagement and attention than static posts on Facebook, and can be a powerful marketing tool to share your promotions. Show your chef preparing a signature holiday dish, or show off your holiday ambiance to entice customers to book their corporate or holiday parties at your venue.

Hold an Instagram contest

Did you know that accounts that hold Instagram contests grow their followers 70 % faster than those who don’t? Contests that promote your holiday promotions can have two immediate benefits; they can increase the number of customers making reservations and dining at your establishment, and they can also increase the number of followers and levels of engagement you have on your social media channel. Consider running a contest where users “like” your holiday post for a simple prize, such as a $25 gift card. You may find that your posts will get higher engagement than others.

Reach out to last year’s customers

You may decide to segment your email list and reach out directly to customers who held parties or events at your establishment last year. Send them a personal email with a special offer for loyal customers such as a discount for advance bookings, or another promotion. The holidays are a time of tradition, and if you can become a tradition for a group, company, or family, the holidays can benefit your restaurant year after year.

If you have some ideas in place for a holiday promotion, but aren’t sure how to execute it in the most cost-effective way, or are unsure about how digital marketing works, contact the team at Absolute Marketing Solutions to learn more about your restaurant holiday marketing opportunities.