Holiday Restaurant Revenue: Think Gift Cards and More

 In 8. Guest Bloggers, Increase sales, Marketing

I can’t believe it. It feels like Labor Day was just yesterday, but the holiday season and the New Year is already here. In 2014, the National Retail Federation (NRF) estimated people will spend $602.1 billion on retail shopping this holiday season. And you can have a piece of that for your own restaurant revenue if you are ready.

One easy way every restaurants can take advantage of increased consumer spending during the holiday season is to sell gift cards. Now I know what you’re thinking: everyone has gift cards, right? Yes, you’re probably right, a lot of retail businesses sell some sort of gift card or certificate, but you can use your holiday gift card sales push for more than just last minute shoppers.

It’s estimated that an average adult will spend approximately $737.95 on retail holiday shopping this year according to the NRF, which is a hefty chunk of change for most people. One way to set yourself and your gift cards apart from the guy down the street is to offer a gift card promotion for the holidays.

Most promotions will include a set amount of a “bonus” for purchasing gift cards. For example, you could receive a $10 bonus for purchasing a $50 gift card. A large amount of big box retailers and chain restaurants run this type of promo during the holidays with much success, but there are a few details to be aware of before you start it in your business.

First off, the bonus should be issued as a coupon with a control number and expiration date, not as another gift card. Also, if you’re giving bonuses based on tier levels, for example $10 bonus for a $50 gift card and $25 for a $100 gift card, include multiple bonus coupons for smaller denominations instead of the bonus being one lump sum. For example, give five $5 bonus coupons instead of one $25. This will encourage overspending the bonus amount on multiple visits.

Other ways you can reap huge benefits from holiday gift card sales is to include purchasers in some type of bounce-back promotion or giveaway that they only qualify for by purchasing gift cards during the holiday season.

One type of popular bounce-back offer is the mystery envelope or scratch-off ticket. Instead of giving the purchaser a set amount in bonus coupons, they instead will receive a mystery envelope or scratch off similar to a lotto ticket. Inside each one of these is various coupon denominations that they can “win.” This type of bonus sometimes gets people more excited to try their hand at luck and go for a big bonus with every gift card purchase they make. The bonus doesn’t always have to be a bonus amount gift certificate either. It could be a prize instead of the bonus. I know people that have really increased cash flow and sold hundreds of gift certificates by using a trip or some other giveaway as the grand prize in the drawing.

If restaurant gift cards aren’t your thing, but you want to capitalize on the hundreds of people that are ready to spend money this month to increase your restaurant revenue, start thinking outside the box. What about sponsoring or organizing special events that customers can pre-purchase for people in their lives that are hard to buy for. A few examples could be hosting wine dinners, craft beer and small plate sampling, cooking demonstrations/classes, or mixology classes. Experience-based entertainment is definitely on the rise and packages that you could put together could be very profitable for the business and a great option for that person that’s hard to buy for on everyone’s holiday list.

Hopefully you’ve already got a good start on booking your holiday parties in your business, but one thing to remember: these parties can be just as important for marketing purposes as they are for December sales. Many times you’ll be attracting people that may have never visited or don’t frequent your business on a regular basis because their company is hosting their holiday party at your restaurant. These potential new regular customers are more likely to come back on a regular basis if they enjoy their time in your business during their holiday event. You want to make sure you are making a good first impression with these guests by properly staffing and executing the holiday bookings.

Happy holidays!

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