3 Last-Minute Labor Day Restaurant Promotions

Labor Day is coming up and the extended weekend holiday is a reason for people to celebrate. Although the holiday marks the unofficial end of summer and starts back-to-school season, people are making plans to spend a long weekend away from work. Have you thought about how you’ll draw crowds to your restaurant? If not, we’ve cooked up 3 last minute restaurant promotions you can use this Labor Day.

A Brief History

So, why do we celebrate Labor Day in the first place? The holiday was created to honor American workers and their contributions to society. It became an official holiday way back in 1894 and always falls on the first Monday in September.

When Labor Day was first observed, the landscape of America’s labor force was dismal, to say the least. People worked long hours in unregulated factories and unsafe working conditions. Labor unions became prominent during this time in an attempt to provide a better way of life for workers. With the government and workforce at odds, many riots and strikes ensued. As a result, Congress attempted to make amends with the labor force by making Labor Day a legal holiday. Today, it’s still celebrated with barbecues, parades, and other public gatherings.

Three Labor Day Restaurant Promotions

Honor the American Worker

This seems like a no-brainer since the country’s workforce is what the holiday is all about. But, you can put your own twist on what Labor Day means to your restaurant by offering some history, and some deals, to guests. Provide quick fact sheets on tables and bar settings so people can learn all about the history of the holiday. You can even host a trivia event that covers the history of the American workforce over the years.

Offer discounts or a free item to diners who flash you a work or government ID. Giving customers a special deal shows that you appreciate the hard work they do all year!

Try out a “have a drink on us” special where people with proof of their work status receive a select drink on the house. It’s a great way to let customers sit back, relax, and enjoy the holiday celebration.

If you want to get really creative, you can base the discount on how many years someone has been on the job. If a healthcare physician has been in practice for 20 years, they’ll enjoy 20% off their meal, if a librarian has been serving a school for 35 years, they receive 35% off, and so on. This is a fun way to get to know your customers, discuss their work history, and offer a token of your appreciation.

Similarly, if you want to have guests participate in a raffle instead, ask them to write down their name and email for a chance to win a prize. You can collect email addresses for future marketing efforts and they’ll try their luck at being the winner.

Host One Last Summer Hoorah

Although many of us are sad that summer is coming to a close, there’s no reason we can’t enjoy what’s left of it. If you’re still offering an exclusive summer menu, you can slash prices on the warm weather items for the entirety of Labor Day weekend.

Host a happy hour with even deeper discounts on your summer drink selections. Throw a tapas and cocktail party with discounted drinks and food just for the weekend.

You can even have a “beat the clock” event where prices on select food and drinks start off at an insanely low cost and increase at the beginning of every hour. Racing against time will be fun for guests and inspire them to get early and stay a while!

Looking to let summer linger longer? Inspire customers to keep the summer vibe alive by choosing a theme, like a luau or backyard barbecue, to keep spirits lifted.

Usher in Fall Festivities

For those of you who are already looking forward to sweater weather and pumpkin-flavored everything, this is an opportunity to introduce autumn before it’s official (that’s not until September 22nd). Kick off the fall right by having a Hello Autumn bash. Unveil your new seasonal menu, offer tastings, and discount some items to give customers an idea of what they can expect at your restaurant this autumn.

Hand out coupons that can be used at a later date during the fall and that expire when winter takes over (September 22nd-December 21st). This will get people excited to return to your restaurant at another time and provides a sense of urgency because of the expiration date.

During the duration of Labor Day weekend (Friday through Sunday) ask customers to sign up for your mailing list to keep up with your fall events, specials, and deals. If they subscribe, they get a free appetizer or drink on the week of Labor Day. Win-win!

Labor Day was created to honor America’s workforce and our contributions to upholding society. Give back to the hardworking individuals in your community by offering exclusive holiday incentives, either just on Labor Day, or all weekend long! Your customers will appreciate the deals and special events and you’ll enjoy a large crowd of hungry diners. For more restaurant marketing ideas, check out the rest of our blog!

Interested in improving your restaurant’s online presence? We can help! SinglePlatform puts your menu and business information accurately on the search, review, travel, and social sites people are using to find new restaurants. Get in touch today to learn how we can help you stand out everywhere that matters online.

5 Simple Ways to Prepare Your Restaurant for Fall

As we mentioned in an earlier blog on boosting sales with a seasonal menu, a new season is just around the corner. You may already be thinking up new menu items for autumn, but there are other preparations you should be making as well. We highlight 5 ways to prepare your restaurant for fall.

Do Some Autumn Cleaning

Cleanliness is Key

The catchphrase is spring cleaning, but there’s no reason why you can’t spruce things up around your restaurant ahead of fall! Give your kitchen a thorough scrub, clean out the refrigerators and freezers, and make sure your dining space and restrooms are sparkling. With the busyness of business getting in the way, it’s easy to forget to clean tough to reach places, like the tops of chandeliers, behind tables and chairs, and in the shelves and drawers of your space.

When the weather gets colder, germs spread quicker, and you want to start the season off in tip-top shape! Plus, the cleanliness of your restaurant is a direct reflection of your business and yourself. You don’t want guests walking into your establishment to see dirt and dust. Research performed in the UK showed that restaurant cleanliness was a more important factor to patrons than customer service. Keep it clean!

Sanitation and Health Code

Health inspections typically happen twice per year and are usually unannounced. You always want to be prepared for a surprise visit by keeping your restaurant as clean as possible. It’s wise to keep your staff informed about the correct food handling and sanitation procedures. Restaurants are shut down over violations of health codes, food handling, and cleanliness.

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene began requiring restaurants to display their health inspection grades in 2010. This allowed customers to enjoy more transparency about the status of the restaurant they choose. Since this took effect, there have been less restaurant closings and more higher grades across NYC’s 23,000+ restaurants.

A statement from the New York Times: “The restaurant rating program is an example of how powerful transparency can be,” Ms. Schiff said. “New Yorkers are using the grades to motivate restaurants to create a better dining experience for everybody.”

According to NYC Health, 21,968 NYC restaurants have passed with an A grade for sanitation in 2018. At the same time, 58 have been closed so far this year due to a failing health inspection grade.

Sanitation matters. You don’t want to lose your business because you didn’t take care of your restaurant space properly.

Train Your Staff Effectively

You’re probably saying goodbye to some staff members who are headed back to high school or college. If you’ve recently hired some new employees for your team, you’ll want to properly train them before they hit the dining room floor. Create a training schedule to help training run smoothly. Assign current employees to training duties and designate specific days and hours to training efforts. Having a clear strategy can help the training process be more efficient and useful.

You want new employees to stick around. Unfortunately, the average tenure of a restaurant employee is 1 month and 26 days. Proper training and ongoing education, along with incentives, can help you with employee retention.

Be confident that your new employees are educated about the important elements of your restaurant. Staff should be well-versed in all the menu items, including seasonal items, the operations of your restaurant, and the customer service standards you want them to abide by.

Take newcomers through important motions, from setting the tables to serving food. Allow them to shadow current employees to see how best to execute their duties. Learning firsthand the ins and outs of your restaurant gives new employees the experience they need to be confident in performing positively in the role. You can also consider mixing in some online training to help staff become educated independently.

Even seasoned staff members may need a refresher course. Offer ongoing training opportunities to help your staff stay sharp and become better at their tasks. This can even lead to promotions and advancement within the company.

Decorate with Fall Inspiration

Autumn brings a sense of warmth and comfort, reflect this in your restaurant’s decor. Depending on your restaurant’s ambiance and design, there are plenty of design elements you can incorporate to make it seem more like fall.

Harvest Colors

Small details, like napkins or plates that are dark fall hues, like brown, auburn, or burgundy, can add a pop of deep color. The Pantone color of the year, Ultra Violet, is a rich purple that could work well with your current color palette. New tablecloths can easily give your space a fresh look. Color has an effect on how we perceive food and on our mood, learn more about that here.

Natural Elements

Do you have a fireplace or mantel? Decorate it with fall foliage and real harvest items like pumpkins and gourds. Create centerpieces with faux leaves, wood influences, and candles. Fabric like burlap is cost effective and can be used for table runners or tied around mason jars for table decor. Earthy elements can help bring the outside in and make guests feel at home.

Make it Instagram Worthy

Instagram has a huge influence on how people perceive restaurants and food. Create an area perfect for an Instagram photoshoot. Warm lighting and props like those mentioned above can help stage the perfect fall tablescape for a photo-op. Ask customers to tag your restaurant social handles and use your business name as a hashtag, or make one up specifically for this!

Host Autumn Themed Events

Introduce the new season by inviting guests for a fall gathering. September 22nd is the first official day of fall. It’s a Saturday, which is the perfect time to host an event at your restaurant. Consider hiring a band, offering complimentary fall treats (apple cider doughnuts, pumpkin pie, apple crumb bars), and introducing your seasonal menu. A changing season gets people excited about a new start, so take advantage of this by celebrating.

With autumn comes a new season of sports, most notably professional and college football. If you’re running a sports bar, bar and grill, or casual dining concept, you should prepare for your sports-related events. What specials will you offer? Do you have televisions and seating for proper game viewing? Make your restaurant or bar the premier spot to enjoy football games for the season.

Looking for a non-sports social gathering? Host a fall wine festival and let guests taste samples of your new beverage offerings. You can do a wine and cheese pairing event and make a profit off of ticket purchases. Take it a step further and offer a paint and sip party featuring a harvest-inspired painting. You can also host an exclusive fall tasting menu night where guests pay a prix fixe fee to get a taste of your new menu items.

Run a Contest

Looking to increase traffic to your restaurant ahead of the new season? Want to do something fun for your guests? Start an autumn-inspired contest to get people talking about your business. Depending on your goal, a contest can be as easy as asking customers to write down their name and email for a raffle. The prize can be a $100 gift card to dine with you, a fall-themed picnic basket, or tickets to a local event. This is a win-win for you and the winner because they received a prize and you’ve just captured email addresses. Build an email list to keep customers in the know about future contests and other happenings.

Once a winner is chosen, spread the great news on your social media accounts. Tag the winner and ask them to take a photo with their prize to post on their own account.

You can also run your contest on Instagram. Create a contest-specific hashtag like #ForrestCafeFallsforFall. Ask diners to take a photo at your restaurant, follow your account, tag two friends, and use the hashtag. Pick one lucky winner from those who followed all the rules. You can gain followers this way and also have the opportunity to follow those other social users who were tagged in their friends’ posts. Build a social community through a contest, it’s simple and effective.

New seasons are Mother Nature’s way of giving you more business opportunities. Play up the excitement of the introduction of autumn by giving your restaurant a fresh start to fall. From things as simple as cleaning the space to running contests and promoting events, there are plenty of ways you can prepare for the season ahead.

5 Real-Life Restaurant Promotions To Inspire Your Own

Restaurant promotions can help stir up some business in slower months, during a lull in the day’s business hours, or even when traffic in your restaurant is at its highest. People love discounted or free items and they give diners an incentive to visit you and even choose your establish over another. So, which restaurants have had success with running promotions? We highlight 5 stellar restaurant promotions that you can take cues from in your own business.

Starbucks Happy Hour

 Via USA Today Via USA Today

When you hear the word happy hour, your mind probably goes to discounted beers and spirits, half-priced tapas, and deals on select cocktails. Happy hours in bars and restaurants help to draw in after-work crowds and late night party-goers. But, happy hour doesn’t just have to be for liquor and bar food. Starbucks took the idea of happy hour and ran with it – for coffee and novelty drinks.

Starbucks Happy Hour first launched in 2010 with discounted Frappuccinos on specific days. Lines flooded the streets with people waiting for a discounted mocha fix. The uber-popular event left baristas out of breath, so Starbucks decided to revamp the promo by making it more exclusive. And let’s face it, exclusivity is attractive.

Today, if you go to happyhour.starbucks.com you’ll find a form waiting to be filled out with your name, email address, and zip code. This signs you up to be a Starbucks Rewards member and allows you to receive updates on news and promotions. Genius, right? Now, they’ve captured tons of email addresses to be used in marketing efforts. Although Starbucks is taking a bit of a revenue cut by offering BOGO pricing on select items, they’re capturing more customer data to be used later on. Pretty great marketing if you ask us.

Starbucks is currently running a buy-one-get-one free happy hour promotion just on iced drinks, including iced coffees and lattes, cold brew, and even their iced tea concoctions. This event is perfect for the end of summer. And, of course, they’re not running this promo during the morning caffeine rush. BOGO starts after 3 pm on certain days – making it hard for people to resist that second coffee to reverse their mid-afternoon slump.

So, how can you execute on inspiration from Starbucks’ Happy Hour? You may already offer happy hour specials at your restaurant, but try making additional offers more exclusive. Let patrons know that if they sign up for your mailing list, they can unlock more deals and discounts. 55% of consumers receptive to email marketing prefer money-off deals. If you offer hard to resist promotions, diners will be waiting for new deals to hit their inbox so they can dine with you again.

Domino’s Potholes for Pizza

 Via Entrepreneur Via Entrepreneur

Yes, you read that correctly. Domino’s recently introduced their Potholes for Pizza campaign which is helping towns across America pave the way for more perfect pizza. They’re asking consumers to nominate towns who are in dire need of road repair. Then, they’re acting on it by helping fill gaps in the pavement so pizzas don’t get bumped or bruised during delivery.

According to a press release, Domino’s is providing grants to selected towns in order to make their roads great again. To date, they’ve already fixed around 200 potholes in four cities.

This promotion isn’t monetarily based as far as offering discounts on food items, but it makes Domino’s look really, really good. A pizza chain that cares about your community? The effort and execution they’re putting behind this initiative shows that Domino’s cares about its patrons and their neighborhoods. This gives the restaurant brand a human-like quality that can’t be achieved just by offering coupons.

Of course, we don’t expect your restaurant to participate in something to this scale, but you can take cues from Domino’s strategy and apply it to your business. Make a statement in your community, put a face behind your brand, and participate in local charities or other town events. Sponsor local community events and get to know people in your neighborhood. This type of restaurant promotion shows that you care and helps build relationships that can turn into long-time patronage.

Sonic’s Sip the Night Away

 Via TV Commercial Spots Via TV Commercial Spots

We’ve all seen those iconic Sonic commercials, the gimmicky bits starring improv comedians that have been serving up laughs since 2002. And although Sonic banks on these funny quips, what they’re really trying to sell is not their jokes, but their current restaurant promotions.

Currently, Sonic is offering a “Sip Your Night Away ‘Til Labor Day” deal that offers half-priced drinks after 8pm. Shakes, floats, and ice cream slushies are all on sale for the remainder of the summer. Similar to Starbucks’ Happy Hour, this sweet deal offers a price-cut on items during a time that probably sees less foot traffic than peak hours.

What do we like about it? The relevance. Summer is the time of year that people want to enjoy icy drinks and delicious shakes. Plus, with school dismissed until after Labor Day, families and groups of friends are staying out later than usual to get the most out of the long hours of summer solstice. This is why offering summer-specific deals after 8pm is a huge win. Plus, if you sign up for their mobile app, you can enjoy a free drink or slushie.

Test this out in your own restaurant by offering seasonal-specific deals. You can dream up a new seasonal menu and offer discounts on select items during a specified time frame. Since fall is just around the corner, test out some seasonal items at a discount and see how popular they are. After school (3-5pm) or the post-work rush (5-7pm) could be golden opportunities for increasing business through promotions. Once daylight savings time comes around in the beginning of November, you can create a promotion around that. “After Dark Deals” can help inspire hibernating diners to come out for a meal instead of staying put on the couch.

Dairy Queen’s Blizzard of the Month

 Via Chewboom Via Chewboom

I’ve been craving a DQ Blizzard all summer now. Unfortunately, I don’t live in close proximity to a Dairy Queen, but I do see their mouthwatering Blizzard commercials quite often. The mixed ice cream treats are delicious and seemingly unbothered by gravity (if your Blizzard falls to the ground when you turn it upside down, there’s some sort of guarantee).

Dairy Queen makes one Blizzard, in particular, the star of the show each month with their Blizzard of the Month promotion. For instance, this month gives special praise to their Reese’s Outrageous Blizzard. You can join the Dairy Queen Blizzard Fan Club (which has over 4 million members, by the way) to enjoy their buy 6 get one Blizzard deal.

Although the Blizzard of the Month isn’t specially discounted for the month, we like that Dairy Queen makes a buzz around a new item each month. This makes it exciting for those dedicated Blizzard lovers to see what’s next on the pedestal. Plus, if the Blizzard of the Month catches a hungry person’s eye, they may just make a specific trip to pick one up.

When planning your next calendar year, try dedicating each month to a different stand-out item. You can offer discounts around those items for that month, or just promote it heavily on social media to make it hard to resist coming in to try one. When coming up with an item of the month, pay attention to the food-inspired national holidays. September 13th, for example, is National Guacamole Day. Why not just make the whole month of September a celebration of guac?

Chili’s 3 for $10 Deal

 Via Chili's Via Chili’s

Chili’s, the popular restaurant chain that puts a bit of spice into the casual dining landscape, has a 3 for $10 promotion running that lets diners choose a drink, a starter, and an entree all for one Alexander Hamilton. Of course, the beverage option is non-alcoholic, and entree items are pretty basic, like chicken fingers and a burger. But, for $10, how can anyone really complain?

The deal is available for dining in or picking up, which makes it an even better deal that reaches a wider audience. You can adapt this idea to your restaurant menu by choosing certain items that can be combined to make an irresistible deal at a low price point. Different combinations include an appetizer and entree for $15, an alcoholic beverage and an entree for $20, or an appetizer, entree, and dessert for $25.

Play around with the menu offerings and price to find what works for you. If you want to put a time constraint on this deal, offer it as a lunch promotion or dinner discount on certain weeknights. Just make sure you’re staying profitable while offering a deal that’s difficult to pass up.

Promotions, discounts, and deals are great ways to get new and returning customers in your doors. They’re useful when trying to attract crowds during slower hours, looking to boost business in off-season months, or just to create year-round buzz for your restaurant.

Large restaurant chains have the manpower and budget to create attractive and memorable campaigns around their current promotions. Although you may not want to offer a promotion on that big of a scale, you can take inspiration from these restaurant brands and apply them to your own business.

5 Back to School Restaurant Promotions

It’s about that time again. Summer flew by in a blink and kids are gearing up for a brand new school year. With the beginning of the school year comes an even busier time for both parents and students. Juggling work, school, extracurricular activities, and homework is a small feat. With less time to cook and more time dedicated to a busy schedule, parents are looking for simple solutions for dinner. They’re also looking for discounts and deals. 75% of consumers report scouring their inboxes for relevant discounts. So, why not market some back-to-school restaurant promotions?

Your restaurant can help busy families enjoy a cost-effective meal! Check out 5 creative restaurant promotions that you can use in the spirit of “back to school.”


Buy-one-get-one is an attractive restaurant back-to-school promotion because it means diners get something for free. And who doesn’t love free? For families with two or more children, this is an awesome deal. Attract larger crowds by offering this buy one get one free deal on kids menu items.

If you only want to run the back-to-school promotion during a specified time frame, you can do that as well. Offer BOGO on weekdays from 5-7pm, which is prime for dinner time. Or, run an after-school special from 2-4pm; this can be the perfect option for families that are eating between school and a soccer game.

You can even designate a day for BOGO and run it for the entire day. If you choose Tuesday as your BOGO day, let it be known that parents can receive a free kids’ meal with the purchase of another all day on Tuesdays.

Want to set a limit? Run the promotion through the beginning of the school year only and let people know the deal expires at the end of October. If you find the deal was successful for increasing foot traffic and profit, you can consider running another one in the winter or spring.

Of course, you can mix up the parameters based on what you feel comfortable offering. Maybe you want to offer a free kids’ meal with the purchase of a regular entree, or just keep it confined to the kids menu. How you choose to restrict the offer is up to you.

Half-Priced “Happy” Hours

If you’re an only child (like me) the BOGO kids meal promotion won’t be too helpful. Half-priced menu items can go a long way for any family of any size. Host kid-centric “happy hours” during a certain time period on weekdays. Slash prices on kids menu items in a specified timeframe to encourage even more foot traffic during those times.

Most schools let out around 2-3pm, so you can start the half-priced happy hour at 2 and extend it until 5 right before the dinner rush.

Don’t want to discount the entire kids menu? Choose certain items to offer at a discount or slash prices on your regular menu appetizer and dessert items for the whole family to share.

When it comes to happy hours, they can really affect your bottom line! Traditional bar-based happy hours have proven to boost sales. A study by point of sale company, Cake, found that bars with happy hours had 33-percent higher transactions than those without. This can translate to your kid-centric happy hour as well. Make sure to dive deep into the numbers and find out if you’re enjoying more transactions and profit during this happy hour timeframe than you did before offering the discount. If so, you may want to consider extending it past just the beginning of the school year.

Of course, you can pair this kid-friendly promotion with your regular happy hour specials so both parents and kids can partake in the fun!

Great Grades Reward Program

Excelling in school deserves a reward, right? Start a program that recognizes students who do exceptional work. Encourage kids to bring in a report card or graded assignment in order to receive a free meal or discounted dessert. Upon showing the waiter their gleaming grades, kids can receive a ticket good for a free or discounted item of their choice.

This program isn’t only beneficial for parents’ wallets, it makes the kids feel special, too. Rewarding students for succeeding in school can even inspire them to continue making an effort to do well in class.

A reward program like this is perfect to incorporate into your social media strategy. Come up with a unique hashtag for the promotion using your restaurant name, like #BistroKidsGetGreatGrades or #LuigisLovesStarStudents. You can ask these stand-out kids to pose for photos with props you create and then post them to your social accounts promoting the program. Of course, you’ll have to ask the parents’ permission to use the photos – but spreading the word socially can really help expand awareness of the sweet deal.

Bonus Tip

Consider informing local newspapers and websites about the promotion as well and see if a publication or news station wants to write a story about it. Creating buzz around the program and your restaurant can help attract more customers.

Loyalty Program

Loyalty programs go a long way in the restaurant industry. In fact, 77% of consumers say loyalty programs make them more likely to stay with brands. There are plenty of loyalty apps that make it easy for restaurants to offer customers a digital way of keeping track of points and rewards. Some examples include Belly and LevelUp. Let diners rack up points with each bill or run a “buy x get one free” promotion for select items. Knowing that they’ll receive free items encourages customers to keep coming back, and you want repeat visits!

If you want to gear the program toward kids, offer punch cards instead. You can give kids their own rewards cards and let them mark off each tally with a sticker to make the process more fun. Kids will be excited to know that they’re earning something by being a loyal customer.

Our advice? If using the punch card system, you should also keep track digitally using parents’ emails or phone numbers. This way, if a card is lost, you can easily pull up the information so kids can still receive their free item.

Student ID Discounts

This promotion is geared toward the “older kids.” Encourage students with a valid ID to show it at your restaurant in order to receive a specially discounted or free item. You can even offer a percentage off the total bill with a valid ID.

As with the other discount programs we mentioned, you can choose to offer this during a specified time frame or on a certain day of the week. If the promotion is running well and raising profits, consider extending it to a larger time frame.

This Student ID program is great for restaurants in college towns. College students are always looking for promotions and discounts in order to save a few bucks. Offering a student ID discount will encourage them to want to dine with you. If college kids are satisfied with their food and bill, they’ll most likely tell their friends and fellow classmates to check you out as well. Everybody wins!

Test out the Student ID idea during different time periods. Run a lunch promotion for a period of time and then change it to a late night offer. See which time of day works better for making a profit. Choose which time works best for your restaurant and run with it for the semester.

The back-to-school season is a perfect time to consider running a new restaurant promotion in order to drive more foot traffic and boost profits. Consider these five unique back-to-school restaurant promotions when preparing your restaurant for the new dining season. Market these deals heavily during the school year in order to gain maximum exposure. Parents and kids will be excited for these exclusive offers and discounts and you’ll enjoy the positive perks as well.

5 Tips for Marketing Your Restaurant During Tourism Season

The summer tourism season has just begun. Is your restaurant on the outskirts of a booming beach town or at the bottom of a popular mountain trail? People are gathering their hiking equipment and beach gear to head out on their vacation getaways. Many are most likely first-timers, unfamiliar with the area but excited about an adventure. Don’t you want to bring these new potential customers through your doors? Of course! And we want to help you do that. In this blog, we’ll explore 5 ways you can prep your restaurant for tourism season.

Be Discoverable by Diners

70% of travelers with smartphones have done travel research on their phones – Google

We’re talking about tourism season here. Summer fun! Most people are new to the area and are looking for places to eat on the go. When they’re driving down that highway parallel to your restaurant, you want them to know you exist and that you’re right around the corner! Make sure your business information (everything from your name to your address, phone number, and hours of operation) is correctly posted online. You should already have that information posted accurately and prominently on your website. But, these tourists probably don’t know your website exists. That’s why it’s essential to distribute this information across the places where people are searching for new places to eat. Travelers are performing Google searches, looking at restaurants on Yelp, and taking advice from diners on TripAdvisor. You want your restaurant to be visible on all the sites people are doing research on. This will increase your discoverability and the chance that they’ll stop by for a meal during their travels.

Entice Hungry Travelers with Your Menu Offerings

93% of people view online menus prior to dining out – OpenTable

Before the vacationers come to dine with you, they’re going to find out what’s on the menu. Being discoverable online is crucial if you’re going to catch those newbies who are scoping out the area for the first time. What does this mean? Well, since 93% of people are looking at online menus before choosing where to eat out, you should have yours posted online! Make sure your website menu is up to date with current items, specials, and prices. People, especially new customers, don’t want to be disappointed when your in-store menu doesn’t reflect the one they saw online (I can attest to that from personal experience!) Take it a step further than just having your menu on your business’ site. As we mentioned before, travelers are searching for menu and business information on travel/review sites and search engines. Your menu should be there along with the business information that matters (like name, address, and phone number!)

Keep Tabs on Your Online Reviews

95% of travelers read at least 7 reviews before booking a holiday – HuffPost

A vacation is an escape from reality, an opportunity to relax and explore, and a reason to choose a really awesome place to visit. Of course, people are going to do their due diligence before picking a destination. They’ll check online reviews for hotels, excursions, and restaurants while researching their options. Your online reputation weighs heavily on your reviews. Of course, that’s not to say that you’ll receive five, shiny stars each time. Negative reviews are bound to happen, but how you handle them is what really matters. Make sure that you’re engaging with your reviewers consistently, whether the feedback is good or bad. Opening a dialogue, addressing issues, and thanking happy patrons shows that you have credibility and that you truly care. Being interactive goes a long way in a world where people form opinions about your business before ever dining there.

Create a Memorable Experience

$129 billion is spent on activities while traveling – Phocuswright

Being located in a tourist area gives you a unique advantage; you’re giving travelers the experience they’re seeking on vacation – so make it a memorable one! Vacationers choose places to visit because they want to be immersed in the culture, surroundings, and activities. Food plays a huge part in that. These travelers are eating most meals at restaurants, as they don’t have the same ability to cook like they do at home. Dining out gives them the opportunity to experience local flavors and flair. Show them what makes your restaurant unique by making their trip to your location unforgettable.

Make sure the atmosphere and ambiance reflect your restaurant’s style, but also the location you’re in. A Santa Monica seafood restaurant can encompass the laid-back California vibe; an eclectic Vail eatery may incorporate some rugged outdoor elements.

Add history to your diners’ experience – explain how you chose the location for your restaurant and tell them some interesting facts about the area. This can be in the form of conversation or even a well-designed handout that’s given along with the menu. You can even add a dish to your menu that reflects the local food and culture (if you haven’t already) to really give customers a taste of the surroundings.

On weekend nights or even slower weekdays, consider hosting events to entice bigger crowds. Invite local bands, artists, or historians to give performances or lessons to the “audience.” You can even put together a “Taste of X” event for whatever area you’re located in and create a special menu just for the occasion. When people are traveling they’re always looking for ways to experience the culture of the location, so take advantage of that.

Keep the Conversation Going After Vacation is Over

“71% of consumers who have had a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others.” – Ambassador

Visitors may only be in your area for a short period of time, but that doesn’t mean your restaurant’s connection with them has to be lost forever. They may make that location their yearly destination depending on how the trip goes. Encourage these fleeting diners to follow you on social media. Tell your wait staff to mention your social accounts to guests, post signs with your social handles in your restaurant, or even leave a card attached to their bill. Make sure you’re engaging with your audience whenever someone leaves a comment on a post or messages you for more information. It’s important to extend your customer service past just the in-house experience. If your photos are enticing, inviting, or memory-inducing, you may just inspire these diners to come back for another visit.

Tourism season is here. If you’re in a popular vacation area, you have an advantage of bringing large crowds during this time span. Of course, you want to maximize the number of customers you bring in and give them the best experience possible in hopes they’ll return again. New customers mean more money for your business. Utilize these tips to ensure your restaurant is ready to attract, serve, and build relationships with the tourists in your area this summer.

Interested in improving your restaurant’s online presence? We can help! SinglePlatform puts your menu and business information accurately on the search, review, travel, and social sites people are using to find new restaurants. Get in touch today to learn how we can help you stand out everywhere that matters online.

About the Author: Taylor Kelly is SinglePlatform’s Content Marketer.  She loves reorganizing words and cabinets, drinking iced coffee whether it’s summer or winter, and checking out the best happy hour spots New York City has to offer. Her goal at SP is to provide creative & informative content about anything restaurant & small business related.

The New Google Maps Ads and Your Small Business

On May 24th, Google announced a new way for local businesses to advertise their business through Google Maps. Advertisers will now be able to put their local ads directly onto Google Maps, a place that used to be ad-free. With more than 1 billion users on Google Maps, this is a huge step for local businesses to tap into the advertisement world.

Considering around 90% of all global sales will happen in store as opposed to online bringing consumers to your local business should still be your number one priority. The Google Maps ad feature allows your business to show up first when consumers search for a specific business or product using keywords. For example, if you search “steak house near me” on Google Maps, a business that pays for the Google Maps ad service will have their steak house restaurant displayed first. This business will be listed with a small, purple box with the word ‘Ad’ next to their business name and will be marked with a purple box on the map as well.  This is a great way for businesses to stand out if they are competing with a similar business nearby. As far as price goes, google will charge you on a standard cost-per-click system, which can vary due to location detail, direction, and mobile click-to-call. That way, you only pay for what you get out of the ad.

 Photo Via Google Photo Via Google

Almost two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone and nearly one-third of all mobile searches on Google are related to location which means putting your business on Google Maps is essential in increasing discoverability. With over a billion users on the Google Maps app, the new Google Maps ads help local businesses increase their foot traffic.

To further differentiate your business on the Google Maps app, your ad will appear as a ‘promoted pin.’ Not only will your business’s pin appear on a map, it will appear in driving routes and walking directions as well. These promoted pins are designed to make your business stand out when people are walking or driving by your business.

In addition, you can also add a specific promotion under your Google Maps listing. When people click on your promoted pin, they will be able to see the deals and specials your business is having, as they will be listed under your business’s name, address and phone number.

Besides the benefits of being promoted on Google Maps, advertisers will no longer have to fear their ads on Google Maps will be blocked. Google has announced that people will not be able to block Google Map features from any ad blocking software.

While Google is still working out a few details on the Google Maps ad feature, it is expected to officially launch later this year. For more tips and tricks on how to boost foot traffic at your small business, check SinglePlatform out on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. To get industry news straight to your inbox, subscribe to our newsletter below:

4 ways to promote your restaurant in 2016

The New Year is here! Its time to build a foundation for success in 2016 by reflecting on the previous year (the good and the bad) and creating ideas that will ultimately drive your restaurant sales. Here are four ways to promote your restaurant in 2016:

1.    Social Media:

51% of adults get news and information about local restaurants and bars from the internet . Social media is an easy and affordable way to connect directly with your current customers and drive new customers to the restaurant. Start by creating a business page on Facebook which provides a key way for customers to interact with your brand. You can be creative on social media by posting photos that grab foodies’ attention, displaying your menu so people are able to view what you offer before coming into the restaurant and posting events or specials that you may be offering to entice new customers.

2.    Use incentives to bring in more business:

Consumers are constantly drawn to promotions. Use holidays throughout the year to your advantage by offering specials for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Creating happy hour specials on a weekly basis will drive new customers and keep options for customers new and exciting. 50% of Americans go to a restaurant on their birthday . Offering specials for birthdays can ultimately create customer loyalty.

3.     Verify that your restaurant’s online listings are accurate

It is vital that all of your restaurant’s details online are up-to-date. This includes your restaurants name, phone number, hours and current menu on all of the local listings sites and apps that people use to find their next meal out. Make it an easy and seamless process for diners to find your current menu with a listing enhancement service like SinglePlatform.

4.     Promote user-generated content

Ask your customers to share photos and information across their various social networks. This is a great way to engage with customers as well as promote your brand. Promoting user-generated content shows appreciation for customers, which will turn customers from one-time visitors to #1 fans.