Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching and according to National Retail Federation, Americans are about to spend an estimated $19.7 billion on the holiday celebrating love, chocolate, and extravagant dinners.
Here are some tips to help ensure you have a profitable night at your restaurant.
Make Sure Customers Can Book With Ease
Joe B. is looking to take Sarah T. to a fancy dinner to celebrate their three-month anniversary. He’s concerned about his suit, she’s concerned about whether Joe’s interested for the right reasons. Neither of them should be concerned about how to book a reservation on your website. Make sure online reservations are turned on and easy to find.
If you have a special page or post on social media highlighting your Valentine’s dinner, include a direct link to your booking page. This not only helps increase conversion, but will also help prevent last-minute phone calls from customers while you’re trying to prepare a four-course meal for a packed house. To find a link to your booking page, simply go to the Widget Tab under Configure and you’ll see a link in blue near the top of the page. Then copy and paste this link and you’re ready to go. There are also options for more advanced links and widgets so feel free to go all out, just make sure to keep it easy for the customer.
Create Some Space for Two
Once a potential customer has selected a restaurant, discovered the booking page, and searched for a reservation, it’s a real letdown if they see that there’s nothing available. Now’s the time to double check your availability for the big day. This year February 14th falls on a Tuesday. If you are going to run extended hours, make sure that your sheets and schedule reflect that.
Are you bringing in additional deuces or splitting up more four tops to make space for couples? Many of the reservation searches Yelp receives on Valentine’s Day are for parties of two, so make sure you’re set up accordingly. It’s very simple to add a room specific to Valentine’s Day in the Configuration Options, resulting in more availability for the most popular reservation requests. And while you’re at it, make sure to set up a special Sheet for Valentine’s Day. This way you can easily update settings such as turn times and seating times specific to that day.
Valentine’s Day is a day of high expectations. Couples and restaurants alike are trying to impress. Make sure you set the expectations from the start. Are you offering a prix-fixe menu? Valentine’s Day specials? You can announce this to guests by creating special sheet notes for that date. These notes show up when guests select that date from your widget or Yelp page.
Speaking of Yelp pages, you better bet that guests booking at your restaurant are going to check it out. While the focus might seem like it’s on reviews, photos play a major part in the decision-making process for diners, especially on Valentine’s Day. Make sure your photos are up-to-date, and highlight any special offerings you have for that day. You can easily upload additional photos by going to biz.yelp.com.
Forget the Flakes
No one likes being stood up, especially on Valentine’s Day. While no-shows happen, if you’re limited on space it may be a good idea to set up a credit card hold specific to Valentine’s Day. By requiring a credit card to complete the reservation booking, you’re making sure that diners are serious about eating at your restaurant. The best part is that charging the guest is completely optional. If you do encounter a no-show, you can easily go in and manually charge the guest if you need to. Just remember to keep guests in mind when creating your cancellation policy. The amount charged in the event of a no-show or late cancel should be enough that the guest is fully committed, but not so much as to scare them from creating the reservation. While this will ultimately depend on the restaurant, we recommend a charge of an entree per person (~$20 per person).
Master the Art of the Follow Up
Did we mention that couples are about to spend a small fortune on Valentine’s Day in 2017? Well, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The best customers are repeat customers. Valentine’s Day is a great way to attract new customers and you can keep them coming back with good service, attention to detail, and appropriate follow up.
Make sure you’re using your guestbook to its full potential. Yelp Reservations not only allows you to use pre-existing guest tags, but it even allows you to create your own custom tags. Add notes and tags to the guest details page during or shortly after the guest has dined to make sure when they return you’ll be able to provide the customized service that top restaurants are known for. You’d be surprised how far knowing a guest’s birthday, anniversary, or dining preferences can go.
Finally, remember that the guest experience doesn’t end when they finish their meal. Providing items like check inserts, restaurant-specific post cards, or information leading to your Facebook, Instagram, and Yelp pages can help keep happy couples involved post-meal and coming back in the future. You can even follow up with an email or phone call to make sure they had a great time. Just a little bit of follow-up can go a long way to ensure guests return throughout the year.
So the most romantic day of the year is almost upon us, are you ready? If not, no worries. There’s plenty of time to put something together and make Valentine’s Day special for couples and your restaurant. Need help getting setup? Call our team at 1-844-889-9066 and we’d be happy to show you some of the above and additional Valentine’s Day best practices.