14 Romantic Valentine’s Day Marketing Ideas to Woo & Win Guests

a photo of Stephanie Schalow

Stephanie Schalow

5 min read

Jan 4, 2024

14 Romantic Valentine’s Day Marketing Ideas to Woo & Win Guests

With 63% of consumers planning to order from a restaurant this Valentine’s Day, the holiday is poised to be one of your busiest days yet. In 2023, 32% of consumers were gifted an experience to celebrate the international day of love. Experiential gifting is on the rise, meaning it’s time for you to capture on- and off-premise revenue with unique Valentine’s Day promotions.

Below are 14 romantic Valentine’s Day marketing ideas to stand out from the crowd and draw in diners.

1. Create Valentine -Themed Menus

Let other retailers offer traditional gifts and gift cards. Your restaurant has a unique opportunity to create special experiences and unique menu additions to lure in lovebirds on the hunt for something more creative.

For example, Gymkhana in London promoted a limited-edition Valentine’s menu for couples, which included a variety of mouth-watering plates such as Amritsari Lobster, Truffle Masala Bhaji and Tandoori Masala Lamb Chops.

Gymkhana London Valentine's Day Menu

Smoke & Mirrors in Hong Kong invited couples to raise a glass to love with special, handcrafted cocktails, delectable dishes and a live saxophone and magic performance.

Smoke & Mirrors Valentine's Day Menu

If you’re offering delivery and pick up make sure your menu items don’t just look festive, but also travel well. Soggy bread and lukewarm pasta can ruin the most romantic night of the year. But a great delivery or pick up experience? Such things do wonders for converting your off-premise guests into repeat customers (or orderers).

Let these menu items speak for themselves. Include pictures of them in your marketing emails, ads and social posts to promote reservations for Valentine’s Day.

2. Take an Ordinary Dish and Reorganize Its Plating (or Jazz Up Its To-Go Box)  

Take what’s already on your menu and dress it up. Arrange an appetizer, entree or dessert into a heart shape or simply adding a “love”-themed chocolate or caramel drizzle onto a dessert.

heart shaped food for valentines dayImage source

Get creative with your online ordering, too. Delight diners with custom to-go packaging, which you can easily do by adding a heart to your logo or offering pink and red containers to fit the theme.

But you’ll need to think ahead to execute this marketing idea properly. Ask your chef to plate a dish with the heart theme in January so you can include a picture in your marketing promotions to guests.

3. Get Punny With Your Menu

Pictures aren’t the only way to dress up the ordinary. Play up the holiday with words that will bring a smile to the face of every guest who reads your menu.

restaurant valentine's day word puns

We found one restaurant menu that renamed appetizers, first course, second course and dessert as the phases of a relationship: “courtship,” “first kiss,” “rapture,” and “sweet surrender.”

It also separated its dessert options into “7 deadly sins for two.” 

Valentine’s Day pun opportunities are endless. Embrace all that is cheesy and corny with phrases like ‘Brie Mine Charcuterie’, ‘ I’m So Fondue of You’, ‘Tortellini in Love With You’ , ’You’re the one pho me” and more. Your diners will appreciate the extra special offerings and will remember your brand next time they’re looking for something to order at home.

4. Give Away Freebies — and Promote Them In Advance

Make guests feel special with a gift that costs you less than the “surprise & delight” value it delivers to them. (Remember, delivering unforgettable experiences is what drives 60% of repeat visits.)

Some marketing ideas for Valentine’s Day gifts are:

Offering a complimentary dessert
Sending guests off with a box of chocolates to-go
Presenting guests with a themed welcome cocktail or flute of prosecco

This type of thoughtful delight doesn’t need to add to your operations budget. Making a simple tweak to something you already provide can feel just as special — like baking heart-shaped dinner rolls.

Whatever freebie you choose to offer, make sure you market it during the first two weeks of February. Advertise it on social, email and direct booking links, taking special care to encourage pre-bookings so your team can order appropriately.

5. Give Your Repeat Guests Early Access

Whether it’s calling, emailing or uploading email addresses to trigger an ad, your repeat and most valuable guests should be the first audience you invite to your dinner seating.

Here’s why: It’s seven times more expensive to acquire a new guest than it is to retain an existing one. Valentine’s Day is busy enough — you’ll waste more time trying to convince a new guest to try you out than you would reengaging a past guest.

Try a low-budget ad campaign using the email addresses of all guests who have dined with you in the past six months. Including“urgency” language that drives emotion in your ad, such as “Have dinner plans for Valentine’s Day?” will help generate more bookings.

Pro Tip: Your restaurant will likely serve more couples on Valentine’s Day than any other day of the year. Before February 14, remember to update your restaurant’s reservation floor plan to accommodate more two-top tables.

6. Give Your Emails a Special Touch

Guests love a truly personalized email from a restaurant — especially during a time when their inbox is flooded with lackluster Valentine’s Day “deals” from other businesses.

Stand out by segmenting your audience and sending a more targeted message that feels like it was written just for them.

Tell your loyal VIPs that there’s a seat saved “just for you.” Even better, address the guest by name. You could also target your take-out regulars with a special “Valentine’s Day meal to go” promotion.

Here’s an example of a personalized email from NYC-based restaurant group Altamarea:

valentines day marketing idea altamarea group

FYI: Wait until the beginning of February to send your email when most guests are brainstorming Valentine’s Day plans. A well-timed email can put your venue at the top of their list for reservations, takeout or delivery.

Too often, restaurants send an email promoting a specific occasion, only to bring guests to today’s date on their reservation page. This makes it harder for guests and could hurt your booking conversion rate.

With SevenRooms reservation widget, you can tweak the widget URL and add a custom parameter that tells the widget to set a new default date. Include this link in your emails and social media so your readers are taken directly to a booking slot for February 14.

SevenRooms customers can learn exactly what parameter to use here.

five figs valentines day safari

8. Offer Upgrades During the Online Booking Process

Upgrades presented at the time of booking make it easier for you to capture additional revenue before guests even arrive on-site. It also allows guests to customize their experience ahead of time which adds a layer of excitement and reduces the chance of a cancellation or no-show

Many restaurant reservation platforms like SevenRooms allow restaurant operators to easily set this up on their reservation widget and integrate with payment providers like Stripe.

At a time when guests are searching for ways to make the evening special, it’s worth showcasing how your venue can play a role. Here’s a sample of upgrade options that you might offer your guests:

upgrade examples for valentines day at restaurant

9. Promote Valentine’s Day Using Your Reservations Widget in January

At the end of January, make it clear you’re open for Valentine’s Day by adding text on top of a Valentine’s Day-themed image to your reservation page.

Here’s an excellent example from SevenRooms client Spago in Los Angeles:

spago restaurant valentine's day reservation page

Not only is this image a great place to share details like your address and phone number, but you can also use it as a banner advertisement for the events and happenings at your restaurant.

10. Build a Custom Landing Page for Valentine’s Day

If you have the marketing resources to create a landing page for Valentine’s Day on your website, it might be worth spending the time to ensure your menu and online ordering and reservation links are in one place.

It makes the booking and ordering experience easier for your guests, too. See how Maple & Ash did it below.

valentine's event page

This landing page works whether you’re running multiple properties or operating as an independent restaurant, as all the information your guests need to book is readily available.

Pro Tip: Include “valentines day restaurant” + “[your city]” as the keyword in your URL, your page title, in at least one H1 headline, and as alt image tags for any images. This will increase your SEO for any guests in your city searching for Valentine’s Day restaurant reservations.

11. Reach Out to Local Media Outlets to Pitch Your Reservations and To-Go Options

Leverage all outlets available to you to attract new guests to your venue.

You can get the word out to the masses in your specific city by becoming your own PR rep. For example, a restaurant in New York City could reach out to outlets like Thrillist and Grubstreet to pitch their Valentine’s Day menus for on-premise or to-go. To find outlets that are more likely to promote restaurants on Valentine’s Day, google“[city name] reservations + Valentine’s Day + 2023” to see who covered what last year. You can bet they’re planning to do the same for 2024, so it’s worth reaching out.

Here’s an email template to use:

Subject Line: Covering the best Valentine’s Day restaurants? Check out [My Restaurant]
Email Body:
Hi [first name],
I noticed you previously covered the best Valentine’s Day restaurants, and wanted to reach out with the below in case you’re currently working on a story for this year.
Who I am: [your relation to restaurant]
Why you should feature [restaurant name] in [location] in your 2021 V-Day round-up:
[Reason 1 – dish detail – describe what makes this dish seasonally appropriate/how it’s created]
[Reason 2 – cocktail detail – something fun and colorful that a guest can’t get anywhere else]
[Reason 3 – ambiance/vibe – what makes your location special/better than your competitor down the street]
Link to menu: [link]
Link to photos: [link]
Best for guests who are looking for: [romantic, menu type (e.g. vegetarian, seafood), seating types (e.g. booth, views, etc.)]
How guests can book a reservation: [contact info or tracking URL]
How guests can order online: [online ordering URL]
Please don’t hesitate to reach out if I can provide additional details! I look forward to hearing from you.
Your Name

Get creative with your email! Here’s a unique and funny way to describe the “Best for guests who are looking for” at a restaurant called Annika in Brooklyn:

“If you’re a carnivore whose idea of romance is a butcher steak, but your better half is a vegan who prefers charred cauliflower”

12. Surprise and Delight Your Guests With a Card

Sometimes, the most effective marketing tools are the ones that cost the least and require little effort. For example, other restaurants might skip over creating a postcard you can use to thank diners for their business. 

But using a free tool like Canva or Flipsnack makes it easy for you to create bulk cards you can drop into your check presenters and takeaway bags. Make it personal by including a note from the owner. Don’t miss this opportunity to convert on-premise diners to off-premise, and vice versa, by advertising future events or takeout/delivery business.

FYI: Print your cards on a nice thicker paper at a nearby FedEx or other printing location, and have the owner of your restaurant personally hand-sign each card.

13. Partner With a Local Chocolatier to Leave a Wrapped Chocolate for Each Guest

Not only do most people love candy but partnering with a local brand can make your guests feel more connected with you.

Studies show that we bond most closely with those we relate to. So, if you give guests who dine with you this Valentine’s Day chocolate from a brand tied to your city, you remind them that you all have the same roots.

In the restaurant world, where brand loyalty is difficult to come by, any way to bond becomes a precious one.

14. Offer Meals and Menus Guests Can Cook at Home

For those who prefer to make it a “cozy night in,” consider offering to-go menus they can prepare at home. Choose items that are particularly well-suited to travel, or items where guests can add the finishing touch, like a chocolate dessert that just needs a quick 10 minutes in the oven.

You can also consider adding value-add items to make the meal a true experience. Check out this great example from Fortina, whose Valentine’s Day to-go meal included delicious food, a great bottle of wine, dessert and the extra special touch of a red-and-white checkered tablecloth to top it off!

fortina restaurant valentine's to go menu

BONUS: Measure Your Campaign Performance With a Tracking URL

No matter which of the above Valentine’s Day marketing ideas you choose to implement this year, remember to track them.

If you use SevenRooms, you can do this by adding a tracking parameter to your reservation URL. Grab these by logging in from a web browser and going to Marketing > Tracking Links.

Here are some examples of parameters for different social channels:

For Instagram: /ig
For Facebook: /fb
For X (Twitter): /x

Looking for some more Valentine’s Day inspiration and ideas? Check out our full guide below.

Playbooks & Guides

The Ultimate Valentine’s Day Guide for Restaurants

Learn More

Share this Post