Valentine’s Day offers hotels an excellent opportunity to increase bookings both for rooms, and tables in the hotel restaurant. In 2019 Valentine’s Day falls on a Thursday, so you can consider hosting events on the night as well a creating exclusive weekend packages. This allows you to appeal to those celebrating on the night and looking for a get-away afterward.
But, how you market your hotel, and the offers you create will play a large role in shaping how potential customers perceive your brand and venue.
For many hotels, offering a discount is often the first thought when creating a promotion. But in today’s market, customers are looking at more than just the price of a room – they are looking at what else the hotel is offering to make their celebration special.
Offering experiences and adding value to the promotional packages you create encourages customers to spend without reducing your bottom line or devaluing your brand. Creating a strategy that fits the needs of your audience means that you need to know who your clientele is, and what they are looking for on Valentine's Day.
Planning for your Valentine's Day event
Ideally, you should begin planning your Valentine’s offers in mid-January and start promoting them shortly afterward. Some people will spend weeks looking for the perfect present for their significant other, and some will make their decisions on the day.
To make the most of this, your promotions need to be seen throughout this time period. During the week before the event, many individuals discuss their plans on social media, with Facebook being the most popular (39%), followed by WhatsApp (22%) and Twitter (17%). Using tools such as Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising to promote your Valentine’s Campaign is a cost-effective and extremely customizable way of reaching your audience.
Closer to the date of the event, you can use re-targeting campaigns to re-engage with your audience and help ensure that you’re the venue they’re thinking of when they make their purchase decisions.
What can you do to encourage room bookings on Valentine's Day?
The location of your venue will play an important role in what your campaign entails. Locations in high-traffic areas with good transportation links may want to promote the restaurant and rooms available on the night. Venues in more exclusive or out-of-the-way areas may want to promote the restaurant on the night, and exclusive weekend breaks afterward.
However you decide to promote your hotel, you still need to offer value and an experience.
You could offer your guests flowers on arrival, a bottle of champagne, chocolates delivered to their room, or a personalized service which has been arranged beforehand (such as delivering presents or jewelry to the individual at their restaurant table or room).
When you inform your guests of your promotions, you need to excite and encourage them. Tell them what you are doing, why it is so amazing – and why they can only get such an experience with you.
How can you make the most of room offers on Valentine's Day?
Think of different ways you can make this event special for your guests. From hiring a professional photographer to take portrait photos to converting a conference room into a cozy cinema experience for a romantic movie – the promotions you put together need to reflect both the capabilities of your establishment and what your guests want from you.
Don’t devalue your services with discounts – you’re offering an exceptional experience. If your customers think that you don’t believe your services are worth full price, they won’t look to pay for them on a return visit.
What can your hotel restaurant do to encourage more table bookings?
Your hotel restaurant also offers you a fantastic way to engage with your customers and to celebrate Valentine’s Day with them. The selection of food and drink that you offer and the promotions you create may be the deciding factor for many guests who are making their choice of where to dine.
By giving them an exceptional experience, they are going to remember your venue - whether it’s for their next night out, anniversary, or as somewhere to recommend to friends and colleagues.
An important factor to remember in your planning is that Valentine’s Day isn’t just celebrated by couples. You may find singles enjoying a night out, or groups such as those celebrating ‘Galantines’ (a night out for female friends to celebrate their friendships). By considering a wider audience when planning your menu, you can offer an experience that meets their needs.
Deciding on a Valentine's Day menu
Many venues offer specials on Valentine’s day, and these tend to focus around a standard dish that is accentuated with a bottle of wine and a chocolate-themed dessert. Why not give your Chefs and Sommeliers a chance to be creative?
You don’t need to remake the entire menu, but by adding a few specialty dishes, you are increasing the customer focus on a unique experience. You can take this special occasion a step further by offering wine-pairings or artisan dishes that celebrate local talent or flavors your restaurant is known for.
If you’re stuck for ideas on what to do for the menu, you could consider utilizing the language of food. The language of flowers was a Victorian device that allowed people to send and receive messages by selecting certain blooms or creating bespoke bouquets. Certain herbs, spices, and ingredients have properties or stories associated with them, such as oregano which is said to represent joy and happiness and grows with fertile energy.
Your Chefs could craft dishes, that extol romantic virtues and promote the emotion of love, elevating them from simply cashing in on a commercial holiday, to offering something truly unique. This language of food approach can also be used for people dining in groups or on their own, with dishes that espouse the values of friendship, happiness, and success.
When utilizing this approach, it is important that your wait-team are familiar with the menu and what the ingredients represent. They can use this information to fully-deliver just how special your menu is to guests.
Benefits of a successfully promoted Valentine's eventHowever you choose to promote your Hotel this Valentine’s Day, it’s important that you determine:
• Who your customers are
• What they want from you
• How you are going to reach them in a way that makes your venue stand out above all others.
After the event is over you have a great opportunity to follow up with your guests - potentially gaining reviews, recommendations, user generated content, brand ambassadors and future bookings. You could consider offering a feedback card that asks about special dates (such as birthdays and anniversaries). By promoting the meaning and values of the day, your hotel will appear fresher and more interesting, and a venue to watch out for.
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Lynne Pratt is the Creative Content Director for Virtual Solutions, a boutique agency specialising in offering digital solutions and exceptional experiences for the Restaurant, Hotel and F&B Industries. Find out more by visiting www.virtual-solutions.co.uk
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