Christmas in Restaurants: Running Joyful Restaurant Promotions

By: AJ Beltis

6 Minute Read

Nov 15, 2017

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During this special time of year, everyone gets together and celebrates the abundance of deals and promotions happening.

If your restaurant wants to stand out this holiday season, you'll need to know how to run an effective restaurant promotion to bring in and satisfy customers.

No matter what the celebration is, every holiday is a crucial opportunity for restaurants to temporarily change things up in the business, which could result in:

  • Skyrocketed gift card sales.
  • Record participation with your loyalty program.
  • Generating buzz about new items on your menu.
  • More engagement on social media.

The holidays are about giving and receiving - so we suggest the following: give and you will receive!

Here are some areas where you can create restaurant promotions for the holidays.

And if you really want to stand out during holidays all year, download Toast's Holiday Handbook.


Restaurant Promotion Idea #1: Gift Cards

There are many reasons for restaurants to offer gift cards. Let's start with the clincher - some restaurant types see a 191% spending increase on average when a guest pays with a gift card.

Some of the other perks of offering gifts cards include:

  • Guaranteed money: Whether that gift card is redeemed or not, you officially make that sale.
  • Reaching new customers: If one of your regulars buys a gift card for their friend, that's (hopefully) a new face you'll see in your restaurant and can continue to delight again and again.
  • A higher payday: 45% of guests spend more than the gift card value when using gift cards, according to Toast's 2016 Restaurant Gift Card Study.

So how does this coincide with the holidays?

About half of all restaurant gift card sales take place during the month of December - that's around 50% of all gift card sales taking place over the course of 8.3% of the year!

Cash in on this gift card craze by offering special promotions for gift card purchase during the month of December. Let's take a look at what Blaze Pizza is doing this year.

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Blaze is offering a great incentive for buying a gift card. With a $25 gift card purchase, guests will get a free pizza pass. This is a smart idea for a few reasons.

  1. Some of Blaze's customers (like me) would consider buying $25 in gift cards just to get the free pizza pass, then keep all the funds for themselves and use it over time. After all, I'm not stopping my Blaze visits any time soon. This is guaranteed revenue for Blaze.
  2. Blaze's advocates can buy the card for a present to someone who has yet to try their pizza, then pocket the free pass for themselves.
  3. People buy gift cards during the holidays. With an incentive, Blaze is making sure people buy gift cards from them.
  4. Someone buying for a Blaze-lover but who has maybe not tried Blaze can gift the $25 card and use the pass to finally try it for themselves. This is for a small customer acquisition cost of one pizza, which Blaze can easily earn back after winning the customer over with their delicious pizza and stellar customer service.

Another nice touch to this promotion is the expiration date - the coupon is valid only for two months. Gift cards can't expire, but free passes can. This adds some immediacy to get to Blaze while the coupon is valid.

Now that's a smart restaurant promotion.

Restaurant Promotion Idea #2: Loyalty Program Engagement

Who doesn't love restaurant loyalty programs?

If you don't, you should.

Loyalty programs are so popular because they not only reward loyalty - they create it. Thus, they result in more spending from your guests.

They also generate invaluable customer data to help you discover the buying behavior of your guests. Toast Marketer Allie Tetreault supports this idea, saying that loyalty programs are a great way to leverage your email list during the holiday season.

For this holiday restaurant promotion idea, offer an incentive to those who come into your restaurant and are not members of your loyalty program. Offer a promotion for the holidays - everyone who joins your restaurant loyalty program during the month of December gets a free soft drink or dessert. If your loyalty program lets you pre-load points onto an account, it's also a good incentive to increase sign ups if you can offer bonus points for signing up in December.

But let's get back to the question of why a loyalty program is worth it for your restaurant.

With a loyalty program, an individual's spending amount can increase by 39% and visitation frequency can increase by 75%. For the marginal discount or freebie that you occasionally give out, that seems completely worth it.

Not to mention, if we're talking about a digital loyalty program based off a record of customer information, you have customer contact information and buying patterns right at your fingertips.

Using the holidays to reel in more members to your customer loyalty program is a smart and easy restaurant promotion idea will benefit your restaurant all year.

Restaurant Promotion Idea #3: Social Media

Social media for restaurants - it's a puzzle, but when you put that puzzle together, it's a beautiful thing. Especially around the holidays.

No matter what holiday promotion your restaurant is running this year - make your social media followers aware. This is a free way to explain the promotion and get some shares on the topic. CTA

You can also use social media during any holidays to...

  • Run contests for your followers (and get more followers) by giving away gift cards or coupons for free food.
  • Show pictures of your limited-time holiday menu or menu items (Shrieking Spaghetti for Halloween, Peppermint Pastries for Christmas, etc.).
  • Announce your holiday hours so everyone knows when you will and will not be open.
  • Remind your followers to make a reservation for this busy time of year.

The Next Step: A Restaurant Promotion for Every Holiday

Let me ask you this - why keep your holiday promotions to December?

There are holidays all year round, which means there are opportunities across the calendar for you to engage customers.

Not to mention National Pizza Day, National Spaghetti Day, National Lager Beer name the food, there's a day for it!

That's why we've developed the Toast Restaurant Holiday Handbook. We've got tips for handling your restaurant during:

  • New Year's
  • Valentine's Day
  • Easter
  • Mother's Day
  • Father's Day
  • Independence Day
  • Halloween
  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas
  • All the National Food Days You Should Know!

Time to get in the spirit! Download your free copy of The Restaurant Holiday Handbook today.

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