Unwrapping success: How independent restaurants can attract more holiday event bookings

Oct 26, 2023

The holiday season is a time for joy, celebration and togetherness, and for many Canadians, that means gathering at a local restaurant with friends and family. It’s also the season for festive year end events and work parties—an excellent opportunity for independent restaurants across Ontario to book large group gatherings. We’ll raise a glass to that!

When people in your community start thinking about where to book their holiday parties, you want to be top of mind. In this blog post, we’ll explore some creative strategies to help independent restaurants thrive in the weeks leading up the holiday season. For personalized advice from a food service expert on our team, please contact us! We’d be glad to hear from you.

Get the word out

Before getting into any of the following marketing strategies, make sure you’ve covered the basics: update your website to include information on holiday party bookings, post about your event space or holiday party options on social media, and consider in-house or local advertising that details your festive menu and other details. Make sure your staff are well-versed in these offerings and ready to answer any questions your customers may have. Then, it’s time to get creative!

Craft a Captivating Holiday Menu

One of the most effective ways to entice diners during the holiday season is to create a special holiday menu. Dishes should be festive, unique, and reflect the spirit of the season. Consider offering a mix of traditional favourites and inventive creations that showcase your restaurant’s culinary prowess. Don’t forget to accommodate dietary restrictions and offer vegetarian or vegan options to cater to a diverse clientele. You’ll also want to include festive cocktail and mocktail options—cheers!

Create Personalized Marketing Campaigns

Personalization is key in today’s marketing landscape. Tailor your marketing efforts to your target audience and use customer data to send personalized, holiday-themed emails with a specific call to action. Make sure your social media content highlights holiday events and event/venue booking opportunities while speaking to your target audience in the right tone. Highlight past holiday events and special offerings in social media posts to remind customers of the fantastic experiences they can have at your restaurant.

Engage with User-Generated Content

Encourage diners to share their holiday dining experiences on social media. Create a dedicated hashtag for your restaurant’s holiday season (for examples, #ChristmasAtJoesPub), and run contests or giveaways to incentivize more user-generated content throughout the season. Share these posts on your restaurant’s social media accounts to showcase the joy and warmth experienced by guests during the holidays at your establishment. You can also engage your social media followers with interactive campaigns such as polls, contests, or quizzes related to holiday traditions or favorite holiday dishes. 

Offer Gift Cards and Holiday Promotions

The holiday season is the perfect time to promote gift cards, so make sure you’re reminding customers about your gift card options on social media, by email, through tabletop advertising and directly from your front of house staff.  Consider offering discounts, special holiday gift card packages, or bundled deals for holiday parties and group bookings. Gift cards make excellent presents, and they can also help boost your restaurant’s revenue during slower periods in the New Year.

Host Enticing Holiday Events

Entice customers to plan a night out at your establishment by offering special events or festive themed nights during the holiday season. Wine tastings, cocktail mixology classes, or live music can add a unique touch to your restaurant’s seasonal offering. These events can attract both new and returning customers looking for a memorable experience. Suggest that customers plan a date night, girls night out or innovative office party—the possibilities are endless. Promote your holiday events through social media and email as well as through your servers. Make sure each event experience is Insta-worthy—you want those customer pics to end up on social media the next day!

Streamline Online Booking

Nobody wants to make a phone call when they could complete the same task on an app or website using their smartphone—and the younger your customer base is, the more true this may be. Make it easy for customers to book their holiday parties or Christmas dinners by offering online booking options. Ensure that your website is user-friendly and mobile-responsive, allowing customers to check availability, view menus, and make reservations effortlessly. 

Decorate for the Season

Deck the halls of your restaurant with festive decorations that create a warm and inviting atmosphere. Ambiance is a crucial factor in attracting holiday bookings, as it sets the mood for a memorable dining experience. Consider hosting special events like tree-lighting ceremonies or carol sing-alongs to enhance the festive spirit and show off your space.

Leverage Local Partnerships

This holiday season, consider partnering with other local businesses for holiday-themed cross-promotions. Collaborate with nearby theaters or event venues to create packages that include dining at your restaurant as part of a festive night out—dinner and a movie, for example. You can also offer discount coupons to customers of local malls or boutiques ($10 off your purchase or a free app with the purchase of two meals, perhaps). This type of hyperlocal, small business promotional partnership can help attract new customers while offering a pleasant bonus to existing customers. 

Happy holidays!

Independent restaurants can thrive during the holiday season by employing innovative marketing techniques that resonate with their target audience. By creating a memorable experience and leveraging the spirit of the season, independent restaurants can make the most of this festive time and ensure a successful holiday season. So, start planning your holiday marketing campaign now, and let the celebrations begin!