Valentine’s Day has grown to become a huge revenue draw as consumers flock to restaurants, bars and other venues, creating an ample opportunity for hospitality employers. However, it’s an opportunity fraught with challenges; businesses attempt to stand out in a saturated market, but too often rely on the same tropes, such as over-the-top decorations and gimmicky social media posts. Employers can lose sight of who their clientele is and what their business succeeds at when they seek to attract as many happy couples as possible. Here’s a few tips to help your business make the most of Valentine’s Day:
1. Start you promoting early
With Valentine’s Day being such a competitive occasion in the hospitality sector, you’ll want to get your message out to consumers before other businesses. However, customers might not be receptive to long-winded countdowns to the day. To strike the right balance, consider marketing your Valentine’s occasion from mid-January, to two weeks before the event, then on the last week, and on the day. In your earliest marketing, such as e-mail communications or social media posts, define what makes your business stand out and how people can take advantage of your occasion. For instance, if you’ve decided to make a special menu, discuss it and direct consumers to a reservation page. You can continue this type of messaging until nearer to the event; perhaps you’ll want to unveil another offer to appeal to customers who are planning at the last minute. Diversify your social marketing with other non-Valentine’s themed updates or else you could be pushing the occasion too hard. You don’t want to endlessly repeat the same information – or else customers will fall out of love with you before the big day.
2. Ensure adequate staffing numbers
Aside from the festive period, Valentine’s Day could be the period that even your most motivated hospitality workers most want to have off, whether it’s due to personal commitments or wariness towards such a demanding shift. Make sure that the staff rota has been completed and disseminated among workers well ahead of the occasion. This means that your workers will have clarity and can raise any issues with enough time to spare, potentially avoiding last minute cases of non-attendance. To show that you understand the challenges Valentine’s Day poses to your workers, whether it’s the exemplary customer service expected or the constant activity on the day, consider offering incentives. For instance, perhaps offer a temporary raise per hour, a bonus or a day off in lieu; this will make the shift more attractive to workers and help offset the possible downsides. If you’ve taken these steps and still find you have inadequate numbers on the 14th February, consider Syft as your staffing solution. With thousands of verified workers in many different hospitality roles, you have total choice in sourcing the skilled workers you need, whether ahead of the date or at the last minute.
3. A relevant, consistent brand voice
Valentine’s Day evokes a lot of strong, specific imagery; cuddly bears, happy couples and love hearts to name a few. When considering how to position your business for the occasion, it’s tempting to emulate your competitors and rely on the tropes, such as putting up red bunting and balloons. However, for your business to stand out to consumers, tailor Valentine’s Day around your brand voice. For instance, perhaps you own a bar or a café with a strong social media presence, utilising shareable imagery, user engaging content and trend-reactive posts. You could start your own Valentine’s hashtag, post a user poll (i.e. ‘Are you celebrating with a partner tonight?’), reference facts about the day, or post relevant GIFs and videos. The key point is to be different to your competitors and highlighting what’s unique to your business- or else your marketing will be ignored.
4. Remember who your customers are
In a similar vein to keeping a consistent brand voice, it’s vital to bear in mind who your consumers are and provide Valentine’s offers accordingly. For instance, perhaps you have an upmarket restaurant which is popular with couples throughout the year; it would confuse your consumers if you offered big discounts as a one off, because it contrasts with your image. Instead, consider premium features to offer, such as a photograph of the occasion or an exclusive cocktail. If you run a bar or café, or rely on millennial or more casual consumers, there’s many ways to offer an appealing Valentine’s Day. For instance, you could offer props and frames for social media images, offer a discount for singles, or organise a crowd drawing event like a quiz or a contest. Millennials may feel that that the typical Valentine’s night out is stuffy and expensive, whereas older consumers may want a more traditional experience.
5. Learn what works year on year
Whether you own a well-established business or are new to hospitality, you can always refine your processes, building on what you succeed at. Perhaps you have a special Valentine’s Day competition which draws in happy couples on every occasion; determine why this is the case. Find out from your workers whether there were any notable customer comments, or what workers thought could be improved. Ask if customers could give feedback at the end of a meal, perhaps on a score card where you can quantify information. When it comes to social media, analyse the posts you created in support of Valentine’s Day. Look at which garnered the most user engagements, which asset type – i.e. text, video – was the most popular, if users messaged you or posted any page comments. Using this wealth of information will help you for the next big date on your calendar and in your marketing overall. Always think of new ways to improve your processes or else complacency can have a detrimental impact.
By executing a properly sequenced marketing campaign which stays true to your brand, you’ll help generate interest in your Valentine’s Day event. In making sure your occasion is adequately staffed and appeals to your audience, you’ll guarantee your customers have a wonderful Valentine’s celebration. When learning from prior experiences and adjusting your processes accordingly, you can look forward to an even more successful event on the following year.