Blog Post / December 3, 2020

Reimagine Your Restaurant’s Holiday Season with These 7 Tips

by Stephanie Schalow
Stephanie Schalow

While the holiday season might look a little different this year, restaurants can still meaningfully connect with their guests and maximize revenue while keeping safety top of mind. Take time to reimagine what your revenue streams will look like during the holidays as you welcome some guests in your dining rooms and serve others off-premise. We’re sharing actionable tips for reinventing your restaurant experience for a pandemic-proof holiday season.

Here’s a sneak peek at those tips:

‘Tis the season!

1. Repurpose Private Dining Rooms

Section off areas of your private dining rooms with festive greenery and allow groups to book

micro holiday parties. These intimate gatherings can be COVID-safe when abiding by local rules and regulations, and let you provide guests with the same level of service they know and appreciate.

Take reservations for these intimate holiday gatherings to ensure you follow capacity restrictions across your space. Outside of reservations, you can also minimize no-shows during the lucrative holiday season by selling tickets for private room bookings through customized event landing pages that secure revenue deposits in advance.

By taking bookings, you can also set time limits on private dining reservations to maximize revenue. Just make sure to leave enough time between seatings for proper cleaning between parties.

After the booking, the fun begins! Make things merry and bright with exclusive menus for your private dining guests. Offer guests the option to choose from seasonal drinks paired with warm bar-style snacks or extravagant charcuterie boards. The sky’s the limit when it comes to offering creative event packages that drive more dollars.

2. Optimize Your Restaurant’s Outdoor Space

If budget and space permit, invest in socially-distanced outdoor structures. Temporary sidewalk patios and awnings are optimal for creating large outdoor dining rooms, while tents, igloos, and cabanas are popular options for seating individual parties. Winterize your outdoor space with partitions and heat lamps to maximize covers and keep guests coming back all season long. Don’t forget to deck out your outdoor space with seasonal decor and festive lighting.

Turn outdoor dining into a special treat by creating a prix fixe experience that’s bookable with tickets. When reserving these spaces in advance, guests can make personal requests, list allergies, or note if they’re celebrating a special occasion. Honoring these requests will delight first-time guests and turn them into regulars.


Mr. Purple in New York City is making the most of their outdoor space with a festive igloo 

3. Meet Guests Where They Are: At Home

Go beyond your delivery menu by recreating the full restaurant dining experience at home. Craft

a curated menu available for takeout and delivery that features your most popular — and most profitable — dishes as part of multi-course meals, or in a large-format for family-style meals. Offer an upgraded takeout experience with deluxe add-ons like elevated plasticware, printed menus, cookbooks, candles, desserts and more.


New York City’s Portale offered whole pies for pickup for Thanksgiving

One such example is Portale in New York City, who seasonally rotate their menus for guests. They recently offered takeout guests a Thanksgiving dinner box for two, with whole pies as add-ons.

Some guests may prefer to dine at home but are still craving a guided dining experience beyond the traditional à la carte takeout model. Cater to these guests’ holiday wishes with elevated takeout and delivery offers.

4. Expand Your Brand with Holiday-Themed Packaging

Holiday packaging is a staple for many retail brands, and with good reason! Festive, branded shopping bags turn heads wherever customers take them. Similarly, your to-go bags, beverage containers, and takeout menus can be walking billboards for your restaurant.


Ai Fiori’s red takeout bags make a statement 

Take, for example, NY-based Ai Fiori’s bright red take out bags. They feature the restaurant’s iconic logo and website to order directly. From updating your font in seasonal colors to writing a festive message, there are endless ways to make your packaging Instagram-worthy!

Creating highly noticeable packaging for the holidays that showcases your brand aesthetic will exponentially increase brand awareness and gives you an item that can be used year after year.

5. Use Targeted Marketing to Promote Virtual Events

Use your restaurant’s data to market online events to the guests who will enjoy them most! Check the tags in your guest profile database to see who would be most receptive to different types of virtual events hosted by your restaurant.

For example, make sure your wine lovers receive an invite to your ticketed virtual wine pairing class. Or, invite your newest guests to join an exclusive Meet & Greet event over Zoom with your Executive Chef. Guests will be more likely to purchase tickets to virtual events that pique their interest.

6. Show Appreciation to Loyal Guests With Holiday Incentives

Show guests they’re on your “nice list” by offering special discounts, promotions, or early access to reservations to regulars, high spenders, and friends and family. Use your customer relationship management tool to identify your MVPs and make them feel like VIPs with special treatment. After all, ‘tis the season to show gratitude.

7. Promote Gift Cards

Create targeted gift card campaigns across social media and email to drive revenue and provide the perfect gifting option for guests who want to share their favorite dining experiences with friends, family, or colleagues. Let guests know the gift cards can be used towards both at-home (takeout/delivery) or in-person dining with your restaurant.

Maximize revenue from gift card givers by offering them coupons that incentivize them to come back and spend more with you. You can also offer incentives, like giving customers who purchase $100 in gift cards for someone else coupons for $10 off their next meal to use themselves.

Download SevenRooms’ Holiday Playbook

As we close out one of the most challenging years in modern history, celebrate the holiday cheer and don’t miss out on opportunities to connect with your guests, even if it’s not face-to-face this year. Want more tips for the holidays? Check out our Restaurant Holiday Season: Reimagined playbook for more advice on how to prepare for a successful COVID holiday season.

Learn more about how SevenRooms can help you maximize your revenue this holiday season.

About the Author

Stephanie Schalow

Stephanie is passionate about sharing the power of restaurant marketing with the industry. Specializing in demand generation, she provides actionable campaign ideas and strategies restaurants can implement to boost loyalty and revenue.

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