Valentine’s Day is a holiday celebrated worldwide and is an excellent opportunity for restaurants to attract customers through special promotions and events. One popular idea is to create a special Valentine’s Day menu that showcases the restaurant’s most romantic dishes.
This can include a selection of appetizers, entrees, and desserts designed specifically for couples to enjoy. To make the experience even more memorable, restaurants can offer a special wine pairing with each dish.
Another effective marketing strategy for restaurants on Valentine’s Day is to create a romantic ambiance. This can include adding festive decorations such as flowers, candles, and balloons. Restaurants can also offer live music or a photo booth to capture the special moments. A unique and memorable experience is sure to attract customers and generate positive word-of-mouth promotion.
Additionally, offering a take-home dessert or a special gift for customers can add an extra special touch to the evening. Restaurants can also leverage social media platforms to promote their Valentine’s Day events and reach a wider audience
Here’s a look at eight Valentine’s Day promotion ideas for restaurants that your diners are sure to love.
1. Ask your kitchen for special menu additions.
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, a recent survey has revealed that 82% of diners would rather receive an experience than a gift from their significant other. As such, it is critical for restaurant owners to provide unique and personalized dining experiences that go beyond the usual menu. Ask your kitchen what special menu additions or experiences they can offer: from wine pairing experiences, to customized plates and exclusive desserts. Your customers deserve something special on Valentine’s Day, so it’s time to think outside the box and make sure you have something extraordinary prepared!
2. Take an ordinary dish and reorganise its plating (or jazz up its to-go box).
Upgrading the presentation of appetizers, entrees and desserts can be a great way to add visual flair to your restaurant’s menu. Take an ordinary dish and reorganize its plating, or jazz up its to-go box with some creative details. Reimagining the physicality of a dish — whether it’s arranging the food into a heart shape on the plate, adding a decorative garnish or restyling how it ships in takeout containers — is an easy way for restaurants to take their meal offerings from ordinary to extraordinary. By introducing an added ‘wow’ factor to already existing items, restaurants can stay cost effective while still offering unique experiences that customers will remember long after they walk out the door.
3. Get punny with your menu.
Get punny with your menu! Beyond using high-quality photos to make food look irresistible, play around with words and catchy descriptions. Get creative and think outside the box – use clever puns or cleverly chosen adjectives to draw attention to certain dishes. A thoughtful description is more than just a few details; it’s an invitation to step into another world of smells, textures, and flavors that your guests won’t soon forget. Get poetic in how you pain the picture of dreamy creations – let your guests know why your food is something special, one bite at a time.
4. Give away freebies — and promote them in advance.
Leaving your diners with a lasting, positive impression is key to gaining repeat visits; creating a memorable experience for them is critical. One great way to make your diners feel special is by gifting them something that does not cost you too much, yet still creates an impactful “surprise & delight” value. Giveaways are an excellent and budget-friendly way to do this, and you can even market the freebies in advance through your website or social media in order to entice guests.
Some marketing ideas for Valentine’s Day gifts are:
- Complimentary dessert
- Box of chocolates to-go
- On-theme welcome cocktails or prosecco
Not only will this draw more attention and revenue to your establishment, but it encourages loyalty as customers are reminded that they are valued and appreciated. Give away something of value and watch how quickly you will reap the benefits.
Pro tip: If you’re looking to add a touch of festivity without incurring extra expenses, consider making a small adjustment to an existing offering to make it feel more festive. For example, you could offer heart-shaped dinner rolls to create a romantic ambiance for your customers. This simple yet impactful change can add to the overall festive atmosphere without putting any extra burden on your operations.
5. Give your repeat guests early access.
Give your repeat guests the privilege of early access to your dinner seating. Connect with them via call, email or upload their contact details. It is especially important to make this effort if you are running at reduced capacity due to social distancing regulations. Reaching out personally to valued guests offers them an intimate experience and will create a feeling of connection that will satisfy their need for familiarity. Give your repeat guests early access – they deserve it.
Pro tip: Consider launching a cost-effective advertising campaign that targets recent diners to drum up business for Valentine’s Day. Reach out to those who have visited your restaurant in the past six months through email and use language that evokes emotions in your ads. A simple yet effective way to do this is to generate a sense of urgency and FOMO (fear of missing out) by asking “Do you have dinner plans for Valentine’s Day?” This question is likely to pique the interest of your past diners and encourage them to make a reservation for the holiday.
6. Send guests an email and make them feel special.
Every guest should feel special, and it’s important for restaurants to make sure that each customer gets the attention they deserve. One efficient way of achieving this is by sending guests an email that’s tailored directly to them. By segmenting out customers according to their interests, preferences and behaviour, restaurants can create an experience that makes anyone who receives the email feel like it was sent specially for them. Every customer getting their own bespoke message with offers catered just for them will truly exceed expectations, so in order to stand out as a business it pays off to invest in segmentation and personalisation when sending emails.
Pro tip: To maximise the effectiveness of your email campaign, consider waiting until the start of February to send your messages. Many customers tend to procrastinate making reservations or ordering takeout or delivery until closer to the holiday, so reaching out at the beginning of the month may increase the chances of them following through. Timing your email campaign strategically can help increase engagement and drive more business for Valentine’s Day.
7. Make it easier for guests to book online by linking to February 14th on your reservation widget.
Restaurants are missing a key trick to get better booking conversion rates with their emails: Make it easier for guests by linking directly to the specific date! Too often, 90% of restaurants send out emails promoting a special occasion like Valentine’s Day but bring them to the current date instead of linking the actual day – like February 14th. This little act will make it much easier and faster for guests to book online, leading to higher conversions and less frustration. Make it easier for your guests and watch your booking conversion rate skyrocket!
The solution: Make a minor adjustment to your widget URL to change the default date displayed. Simply add a custom parameter (beginning with “?”) to the URL to specify a new default date. This small tweak can go a long way in ensuring your customers see the most relevant information when using your widget. By making this change, you can streamline the user experience and improve the overall functionality of your widget.
8. Offer upgrades during online reservation booking.
Offer upgrades during online reservation booking and capture more revenue before guests even arrive on-site. With platforms like LateRooms, restaurant operators can make this a reality by easily setting up add-ons through their reservation widget and connecting it to payment providers such as Stripe. This is a great solution for restaurants, providing an opportunity to increase their income without impacting the guest experience or straining staff resources.
The result: Maximise your revenue and reduce the number of missed reservations by implementing a payment system that requires guests to make a commitment. By requiring pre-payment, you not only increase your revenue but also reduce the likelihood of no-shows, as guests have already made a financial commitment to their reservation. This simple change can benefit both your business and your guests, resulting in a win-win scenario.
9. Start promoting Valentine’s Day through your reservations widget.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, now is the perfect time to start advertising to existing website visitors that your reservation widget for this special day is available. Start promoting it through them at the end of January and make sure that your guests know about the availability of your bookings. Take advantage of this holiday season and let your customers book a table or a service in a few easy clicks using your reservations widget!
Utilise your restaurant’s image not only to display important information such as contact details, but also as a platform to promote upcoming events and specials. This image can serve as a visual banner advertisement for your restaurant, showcasing all the exciting things happening in the near future. By utilizing this space creatively, you can effectively reach potential customers and generate excitement for your restaurant’s offerings.
How to do this: Add text on top of a Valentine’s Day-themed image.
10. Build a custom landing page for Valentine’s Day
Building a custom landing page for Valentine’s Day on your website can be a great way to leverage your marketing resources. This page can host essential content like your menu, online ordering and reservation links all in one place, making it easy for customers to view and access what’s important. If it fits within your budget and strategy, creating such a page might be well worth the investment!
Pro tip: Improve your search engine optimisation (SEO) and reach potential customers searching for Valentine’s Day restaurant reservations in your city by including relevant keywords in your website. Include “valentine’s day restaurant” and “[your city]” in your URL, page title, at least one H1 headline, and as alt tags for images. This targeted approach will increase your visibility in search results for local customers looking to make a reservation for the holiday, helping you drive more business to your restaurant.
11. Reach out to local media outlets to pitch your reservations and to-go options.
Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity for restaurants and their customers alike! Consumers are looking for that new experience, whether it be a unique menu or special atmosphere, so now is the time to start reaching out to target those shoppers. Reach out to local media outlets and take advantage of online advertising to pitch your reservations and to-go option for couples wanting a romantic meal. Provide samples to guests, showcasing the flavors and experiences your restaurant can provide. Make sure your prices are competitive and upsell when you get the chance — such as adding on chocolates or flowers with a purchase — to increase profit margins. Make this Valentine’s Day stand out from the rest!
Pro tip: Stay ahead of the competition and increase your visibility by researching outlets that covered restaurant options for Valentine’s Day in your city last year. Conduct a Google search using the query “[city name] reservations + Valentine’s Day + 2024” to identify relevant sources. Chances are, these outlets are planning to run similar coverage in the upcoming year, so reach out and inquire about being included in their coverage. This proactive approach can help increase your exposure and reach potential customers looking to make a reservation for Valentine’s Day.
12. Surprise and delight your guests with a card.
Surprise and delight your guests with a card! A low-cost, low-effort way to show appreciation for your customers is to create a personalized postcard or e-card featuring an owner’s message. Tools such as Canva and Flipsnack make it easy to design high-quality, professional cards that are sure to leave a lasting impression on your diners. This can be used for Valentine’s Day gatherings or other special events at the restaurant, or when customers order take-out/delivery to adhere in their bag – giving you the chance to promote future events. Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to convert on-premise diners to off-premise, and vice versa.
Pro tip: Make a personal touch to your marketing materials by having the owner of your restaurant hand-sign each card, printed on high-quality paper. Visit a nearby printing location such as PrintEx and print your cards on a thicker, more substantial paper that conveys the level of care and attention you put into your business. This personalised touch can make a lasting impression on your customers and set your restaurant apart from the competition.
13. Partner with a local chocolatier to leave a wrapped chocolate for each guest
Partnering with a local chocolatier to leave each guest a wrapped chocolate is an effective way to increase the likelihood of their return. Positive sentiment toward your restaurant can be implied by guests leaving a larger tip – research confirms customers who enjoy their experience at a restaurant are more likely to become regular diners. Enhancing the customer experience with thoughtful touches, such as thoughtful complimentary gifts, will spur customer loyalty and continuity in patronage. Partnering with a nearby chocolatier is an excellent opportunity for customers to link their positive dining experiences with your establishment, ultimately increasing customer satisfaction and creating customer loyalty.
14. Use a tracking URL for each of your promotions to see where your reservations are coming from.
Properly managing your reservations is key to any successful business. However, it’s not just how many reservations you’re getting that matters – understanding where they’re coming from is equally as important. With SevenRooms, this has never been easier: Use a tracking URL for each of your promotions to see clearly where your customers are originating from. All you have to do is log in from a web browser and go to Marketing > Tracking Links for all the information you need! It’s never been more convenient or accessible to get insight into where your precious reservations are coming from.
Here are some examples of parameters for different social channels:
- For Instagram: /ig
- For Facebook: /fb
- For Twitter: /tw
15. Online ordering specials and menus
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, 2024 will likely see an influx of takeout and delivery orders as we continue to observe social distancing measures. Online ordering specials and menus should be kept in mind when creating your holiday offerings! Make sure your dishes are well-suited for travel — items that can go from kitchen to plate with minimal effort or those with components where guests can provide the finishing touches. An example of this is a decadent chocolate dessert that simply needs 10 minutes in the oven – it adds an element of surprise while still showcasing your culinary expertise.
Read more: Valentine’s day marketing ideas for hotels
Frequently asked questions
How can I advertise my restaurant on Valentine's Day?
Advertising your restaurant on Valentine's Day include: Promote Valentine's Special Couple Packages. Live Musical Events. Capture Special Moments. Promote on Social media: Publish Reels. Offer Themed Table arrangement. Promote Loyalty on Special Days. Take Care of Singles
How do you attract customers on Valentine's Day?
To attract customers on Valentine's Day you need to: Use Targeted Popups. Run a Valentine's Day Sale. Offer More Benefits. Make Your Delivery Dates Visible. Promote Relevant Products. Offer Gift Guides. Drive Urgency. Target Last-Minute Shoppers.
How can I increase my sales on Valentine's Day?
To increase your sales on Valentine's Day you need to: Look at data from last year. Stock up on Valentine's Day-themed merchandise. Add a dedicated section on your website and store. Create Valentine's Day gift guides. Guarantee shipping and delivery by Valentine's Day. Offer free gift wrapping. Partner with a local influencer. Prepare for peak days and hours.
To stand out from the competition and attract diners on Valentine’s Day, restaurants can consider creative marketing strategies such as offering special menu items or packages, hosting intimate events such as wine tastings or live music, leveraging social media and email campaigns to promote their offerings, partnering with local businesses to offer discounts or promotions, and personalizing their approach by hand-signing cards or including special touches in their dining experience. By thinking outside the box and offering unique experiences, restaurants can differentiate themselves from the crowd and draw in diners looking for a memorable celebration on Valentine’s Day.
Lee Jones is a seasoned Business Finance Specialist with over two decades of invaluable experience in the financial sector. With a keen eye for market trends and a passion for helping businesses thrive, Lee has become a trusted advisor to countless organizations seeking to navigate the complexities of finance.