8 Tips to Increase Business During the Holidays

Restaurant Operations, Marketing + PR, Menu,
By Nick Adams, President of Boelter Southeast Division

​While some restaurants don't know if it's worth opening on holidays, a recent survey from dining reservations website OpenTable proves that there are plenty of benefits for keeping your doors open. Restaurants that stayed open on Christmas Eve saw a 92% jump in covers from typical weeknights in the same month, while New Year’s Eve covers jumped by 242%. 
The question is, then, not if you should stay open for the holidays. Rather, you want to consider how to draw customers away from other restaurants that might have the same idea. Here are eight tips for making sure your restaurant is as profitable as possible over the holiday season.
1.Post reminders on your social media pages about your holiday hours and events. 
Many potential diners aren’t clear about holiday hours. So, make sure you design an advertising campaign that keeps them up to date with your hours, specials and holiday events. Send out emails to your loyal patrons, as well as post messages on social media. 
2.Offer to host corporate parties. 
According to Challenger, Gray, & Christmas, Inc., 80 percent of companies hold holiday parties. Many of these parties are held outside the office, so reach out to businesses early in the season – in September – to make sure that they know you're willing and able to host these large events. 
3.Try strategic promotions. 
Percentage discounts, rather than gift cards, can be a convincing way to ensure your diners choose you for their holiday celebrations. This strategy worked for Chicago’s Roka Akor, which lured in holiday diners with discounted wines. 
4.Throw your own holiday party. 
People like to celebrate the holidays for as long as possible, so many restaurants see success in hosting their own holiday celebrations. Take Los Angeles’ health-oriented Hugo’s as an example. The restaurant offers a holiday meal that caters to dietary restrictions that offer options for dairy-free, gluten-free and vegetarian diners. 
5.Create a holiday campaign to re-attract your lapsed customers. 
Especially in the later weeks of December, many Americans have spending fatigue after buying gifts for so many. So, discounts and coupons that save them money can persuade them to return to your restaurant. Campaigns that could lure back in these diners have been particularly successful on December 25, December 30 and January 1.
6.Develop a holiday menu. 
According to Joe Garber, marketing coordinator for Datassential, diners love seasonal menus offering holiday favorites. Many restaurants create holiday menus, so you’re smart to do the same. Consider adding holiday flavors to your offerings, like eggnog, peppermint, ginger, cranberry and chestnut. Also consider building a menu from seasonal ingredients. 
7.Sell gift cards. 
Last-minute holiday shoppers are everywhere. They are especially out in force the closer we get to Christmas. So, you can help your late holiday shoppers purchase those last-minute gifts by selling gift cards for your restaurant. Restaurant owner Lorri Mealey reports earning several hundred dollars on this tactic, even before serving food or drinks.
 8.Roll out seasonal catering. 
Though there historically has been a lull in eating out from December 25 through New Year’s Eve, one of the ways to break this pattern is by catering events. Whether you’re serving holiday parties or preparing meals for families to serve at holidays, Modern Restaurant Management Magazine suggests catering can make up for any potential holiday lulls. 

By implementing some or all of these tips, you can make sure that your establishment has a very merry holiday season.