You want your café to be the hot spot for Valentine’s dates this year. How can you set your restaurant apart from the others? Remember – love comes in all shapes and sizes. Be inclusive on the most romantic day of the year. Avoid stereotypes and stock images of white men and women holding hands over a candlelit table. Inclusivity includes menu options, too!
“Sharing the love” is a popular theme for Valentine’s Day promotions. If you’re asking people to enter a social contest – for example, Post a picture of your One True Love to go in the draw to win a romantic dinner for two #OneTrueLoveDinner – make sure the prize is worth it, and don’t forget to pick a winner!
Keep in mind that social contests tend to benefit your business more than they benefit your customers. (Your customers do all the work of creating photos, leaving comments and sharing posts.)
Social contests also tend to benefit people who are naturally outgoing and have less concern for their privacy online. You may need to consider another avenue (see Love Games below!) to engage those who won’t want to use their private platforms to spruik your café.
Also consider that some winners may want the dinner date to be a surprise – and they may not want their partner to know that they got the meal for free! So before you announce the winner, check in with the lucky person to see how they’d prefer to proceed.
No Singles Allowed
If you want to go all out, close your doors on Valentine’s Day and have an invite-only event. An intimate dinner, cocktails, or even a crafternoon – but couples only, and bookings required.
This “lock in” feeling will create an atmosphere of intimacy. Your guests won’t have to share a table with someone’s business meeting, and they won’t be interrupted by drop-ins for takeaway coffee. Dim the lights and away you go.
No Couples Allowed
“Singles Appreciation Day” (SAD) is gathering steam – it’s the singles’ response to the annual February lovefest. If you want to be a bit cheeky, ban Valentine’s Day completely and celebrate the single life.
In the run-up to Valentine’s Day, consider having a contest in store. It could be a quiz, or a “Guess How Many Heart Candies Are in the Jar” game. Any small, parlour-style activity would suit. The prize? Dinner for two on Valentine’s Day.
A Giving Mood
Take the opportunity to refresh your relationship with your café’s chosen charity. A little love for others is a great way to join in the Valentine’s fun without getting too sickly sweet. You can make a lump-sum donation, or try something fun like Macy’s Go Red For Women campaign: they donated $2 to the American Heart Foundation every time the hashtag #MacysGoesRed was used.
Aside from your own donation, you could set up a donation station at your counter – one bowl for singles, the other for couples – then you’ll really see who’s in the best loving mood on Valentine’s Day!
Eyes on the Prize
If you are going to run a contest – in store or online – think big. Rather than just the meal at your café, imagine the whole day. Maybe you could join forces with some other local businesses? A dozen roses from the florist down the street. Two tickets for the movie theatre. A box of chocolates from a local chocolatier.
By getting other businesses involved (some of which may already be your suppliers) you help each other to spread the word about your businesses. Get you some of that community loving.
Take Me Home
Your café doesn’t need to be the destination for Valentine’s Day. Instead, you could prepare some gifts for couples to take away and enjoy on their own. It might be a Valentine’s Day cake, or a bouquet of sweets – anything that is reasonably simple to prepare (you don’t want to have Valentine’s leftovers hanging around till March).
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