Guest Data: The Restaurant Marketer’s Secret Weapon

a photo of Sevenrooms


5 min read

Oct 6, 2022

Guest Data: The Restaurant Marketer’s Secret Weapon

Guest relationships don’t end when the check is paid. Nor do they begin when someone steps into one of your venues. As a marketer, you have the power to drive revenue and deepen relationships throughout the guest journey, but only if you know who your guests are.  

“But my restaurants serve thousands of guests in a week from Boston to LA. How can I possibly get to know all of them?

The answer is guest data.

Guest data is the foundation for creating “wow” moments. It’s what fuels loyalty and differentiates you from competitors. However, working with disparate systems across various concepts and locations makes it difficult to collect the information you need to create successful, targeted campaigns.

By the end of this article you’ll learn how to build a powerful guest database and use it to fuel better marketing campaigns that drive revenue and improve retention.

Tips for turning your guest database into a powerful marketing tool

Own your guest data

Third-party booking apps might help guests discover your venues, but they own that treasure trove of guest information. Not to mention you’re sending them to a non-branded reservation widget that creates inconsistencies in the online experience. 

More and more, guests are turning to Google to discover their next night out. Using a direct reservation platform that allows you to own the guest data will help you avoid cover fees when customers already know they want to visit your venue. Better yet, retaining your guests’ booking information allows you to connect this visit to past and future visits, along with dietary restrictions and special occasions.

As guests return, their profiles become richer, replete with POS data and visit history, providing Front of House staff, and your marketing team with a better understanding of who is coming into the restaurants. 

Below is an example of a white-labeled, direct reservation widget for Nour, a Middle Eastern restaurant and bar in Surry Hills, NSW. Guests are greeted with a consistent experience throughout the booking process, and Nour keeps the data they collect.

Ensure your systems are integrated 

From POS systems and online ordering apps to event software, your existing guest data is generated from a variety of sources. When systems don’t communicate, you end up with guest information that doesn’t match or is missing. 

By bridging data silos, you ensure guest information is shared and consistent across systems and venues. With consistent guest data your team can trust, operations are more efficient and guests are sure to experience more of those “wow” moments. 

This is exactly what Ethan Stowell Restaurants discovered when they merged their POS system with SevenRooms’ direct reservation platform. Previously, guest information had been siloed and scattered across fourteen locations. After the integration, guest profiles were matched to POS order history, layering in food & beverage preferences. All venues now have a unified view of every guest, which allows them to create consistent, personalized experiences across the company. Read the full case study

By connecting your reservation and online ordering systems to POS software, you can build automated guest segments based on food and beverage preferences, average guest spend and reservation size, and if they dine-out or order-in.

There are endless possibilities of slicing and dicing this data to create targeted marketing campaigns tailored to guest preferences and behavior.  

Train your staff to validate guest details

While many people book directly online, there are those who still prefer to lock down a Saturday night reservation through the phone or by trying their luck at the door. To ensure guest data is always captured, train hosts and managers to validate reservation information and service details.

Ways to leverage guest data & smart segmentation to create rock star campaigns

Deliver personalized experiences that build loyalty

Imagine you have a guest who consistently dines at one of your restaurants — let’s call her Anna. She loves Bordeaux, window tables and is a big spender. The staff at this location know her preferences, reserving a window table and informing her about the newest cellar selections. 

One day, she decides to venture to another venue. She walks in and is treated like any other first-time visitor. Her experience isn’t consistent.

Had Anna’s profile been available across the portfolio, the Front of House staff would have known she was a regular at another location, greeted her as such, and “wowed” her with a window seat and maybe a welcome glass of Bordeaux.

Guest data helps identify and reward loyalty. According to TouchBistro’s recent data report, loyalty programs among young diners are on the rise. If your company doesn’t already have a loyalty program, you can use guest data to identify those who would qualify and invite them to join. 

If loyalty programs aren’t in the plans, you can still use data to identify loyal guests and deliver a consistent experience across your portfolio.

Send targeted emails & texts they can’t resist

Integrating your POS data with reservation profiles opens up a world of opportunities to create hyper-targeted offers guests will love. 

Thinking about running an Oktoberfest promotion? With guest order data, you can create a segment for beer drinkers and lure them in with a discount on Bavarian brews and IPAs. Or invite guests back in to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries with a complimentary appetizer or champagne toast. 

The key to higher open rates and repeat business is relevance. Guest data gives you that 360° view into what your guests want and will come back for.  

Set it and forget it with marketing automation and auto-tagging

Managing multiple concepts across different time zones adds to the complexity of consistent guest communication. This is one of the challenges Mina Group looked to resolve when they brought on SevenRooms.

Mina Group operates over 40 venues across ten states and a location in Dubai. Using SevenRooms, they’re able to create custom auto-tags based on visit frequency. For example, if a guest visits 2X in a given period vs. 20X, they are automatically assigned different statuses (e.g. “Future Fans” vs.“Platinum VIPs”). Auto-tags segment these guests into pre-built email campaigns that are sent after every single visit. 

In 2021 these automated follow-up emails generated an impressive $428,000 in on- and off-premise revenue. Read the full case study.

Boost upsell promotions in the dining room

With the ability to view diner trends, servers can tailor upsell promotions with more precision. 

If a regular guest typically spends $25 on a bottle of red wine, the waiter can make an informed suggestion for them to try a more expensive option. Or if the guest is a seafood lover, they can tailor the specials menu by urging them to order that exclusive Dover sole.

With insights into what guests love, you start to replace the salesy approach of upselling with catered suggestions that enrich the guest experience.

Turn takeout regulars into dine-out customers and vice versa

Guest behavior can be classified into two categories: in-house dining and takeout. By merging your reservation and online order data, you’re able to connect the dots between the behaviors and deepen the relationship. 

Nudge the homebodies to come in this weekend by sending a “come join us” note with a discount on a dish they love. Or, you can do the same for loyal in-house diners. Anticipating bad weather? Want to simplify holiday cooking? Send them takeout offers to enjoy their favorite dishes at home.

Cross-sell other venues in your portfolio based on diner preferences

Keep your guests in the family by encouraging them to try out other concepts within your portfolio. Maybe you have a venue that offers dollar oysters on Thursdays. Segment your database for the seafood lovers and send a targeted email with the offer and a reservation link to the restaurant.

Guests like to mix it up which gives you a good opportunity to spread the love across your regional locations.  

Combing through data and pulling information from various systems is a daunting task. It’s what leads to the “spray and pray” marketing approach – promotions that fall short of giving guests a reason to come back, simply because you don’t know what that is. Guest expectations are evolving, and with it, the restaurant industry. If you’re not using data to personalize the guest experience and drive loyalty, someone else will. 

For more information on how SevenRooms Guest Experience and Retention platform can help you own your guest data and refine your marketing strategy, book a demo with our team. 

Share this Post