Step into Christmas...on the right foot with these restaurant marketing tips.

4 min read

At simpleERB, we are starting to feel the Christmas spirit creep in as we have already received support queries looking for advice on how to best set up Christmas promotion bookings such as; festive menus, afternoon teas and party nights.

After the hospitality industry lost the past two Christmas trades and reportedly, ‘missed out on £3bn in sales’, it’s all the more reason to have an enticing festive marketing strategy in place to drive those bookings.  

If your restaurant has not yet finalised your Christmas marketing strategies to take advantage of the festive trade, we have a few suggestions below, alongside how you can use simpleERB to assist.

  1. 12 Days of Christmas promotions
  2. Christmas party nights
  3. Festive set menus
  4. Target pre-theatre panto / Christmas shoppers
  5. Post Christmas limbo

The 12 days of Christmas promotions

A festive favourite in the marketing industry. You could count the days from the start of December to boost early Christmas sales or the lead up to the big day.

Think about a different festive promotion for each day to entice customers to make bookings. You could target these bookings at your off peak times and with promotions that are the gift that keeps on giving such as; raffles for a monetary gift card for the restaurant or vouchers for a meal for two or a discount percentage off all with conditions to use within January.

Take advantage of the festive cheer with promotions such as; wear an ugly xmas jumper for a free glass of mulled wine, celebrate National HumBug day where turkey is not on the menu but you might get a chocolate brussel sprout petitfour, complimentary festive dessert on a Monday or dine on the 2C festive menu for a draw in the daily raffle.

Christmas party nights

A fixed meal, a complimentary drink, a Christmas theme and end the night with entertainment. Party nights are great to keep cash flow moving with the ability to have these bookings paid for in advance and the knowledge of what to expect on the night. You could also request pre-orders to assist in food costs.

Party nights are great to draw in your local and loyal customers or to advertise to nearby businesses in the area for their staff party nights.

Festive menus

Having a set course festive menu that combines traditional favourites and a few modern twists is key to tempt in customers. Create a set menu that offers value to customers such as a complimentary drink/coffee or an intermediate course.

Festive themed afternoon teas are continually popular to boost your off peak times 13:00 - 16:00. If you already run afternoon tea, use your customer data to locate previously booked customers and use them in a targeted email marketing campaign.

Target pre-theatre panto / Christmas shoppers

At Christmas, there are more reasons for customers to make an opportunity to book a meal out, such as; Christmas panto’s, celebratory smaller group catch ups and Christmas shopping.

Take advantage of this niche market and offer a specialised promotion that fits into their arrangements. For example; bookings for a pre-theatre meal might benefit from a 2C meal offer and drink, rather than full 3C or ALC. Alternatively, Christmas shoppers might enjoy an afternoon tea or a glass of fizz and 3 small plates/bar snacks to enjoy as a break to rest weary feet.

Post Christmas limbo

Finally, the Christmas limbo where no one knows what the day is but still happy to ride the end of the festive wave. You could run a specials menu, think turkey curry or warm roast veg salad, or a discount on your festive menu over lunch periods. Advertise these special promotions to customers who have dined during the festive period.

If you are going to be running any New Year’s events, use these customer booking in the limbo to market your promotions too or even a competition for tickets to your event if they book between 26/12 - 30/12.  

How can simpleERB help with these promotions?

Set each promotion as a Booking Offer so customers only qualify for this promotion if booked on the offer at the times set by you. You could even set the offer with a cover allocation and a private offer link and let customers know it’s only limited for 50 customers. Customers enjoy exclusivity. Don’t forget you can set up advance booking notice on these offers so your kitchen team is prepared - no surprise bookings.

Use a Booking Offers URL  link to promote this via your social media pages through creative posts or in targeted email marketing campaigns so customers are able to easily find and book the promotion.

Use simpleERB’s data reports to locate your customer target markets, such as Customer Exports for your opted in marketing list, identify this year's or last Christmas’ loyal customers or your historic covers per day / sitting to identify last years off peak time slots. The forward covers booked report can also assist with forecast planning during Christmas.

In your Booking Offers description, include hyperlinks to your menus for customers to have quick access to view when booking.

Use widget messages to highlight to customers when booking to look out for special dated promotions or that payment/card details may be required.

Set up payments on Booking Offers, to secure the full ticket price in advance for your party nights or fixed menus. Ensure you update your booking terms & conditions to outline policies around cancellations along with setting up your cancellation policy/reasons too.

Set up card capture or payments on any bookings over the festive period to secure your revenue and deter no shows.

For party nights or peak festive trade times, you can rearrange your normal table layouts and override normal service settings to increase capacity such as; changing timeslots to sittings, increasing max covers, and setting different stay times for different party sizes.

You might also find our FAQ checklist here helpful to make the most of booking management settings during busy periods.

If you have any queries about making changes to your simpleERB account for the festive period, please reach out to our team -