Thanksgiving Marketing Tips for Your Restaurant
Every kid in the U.S. knows the story of the first Thanksgiving, but the foods that defined the holiday have continued to evolve. While the first Thanksgiving likely had seal, lobster, and swan on the menu, traditions like turkey and potatoes have gradually codified over time as signature seasonal dishes. For restaurant owners and operators, the holiday can prove a challenge, as customers tend to stay at home with families. But there are a lot of ways that you can draw hungry guests either on or around the big day itself and knowing the best Thanksgiving marketing tips for your restaurant can help you get the word out.
A harvest festival enjoyed in many countries around the world, Thanksgiving has developed into a celebration of the comfort foods germane to your region of the world. That means there are a lot of folks out there either looking to celebrate their own traditions, or who have none in particular to mark the occasion. Though Thanksgiving is a time of fellowship with family, not everyone has one around to spend time with, so it can be a struggle for most. There are so many reasons how you can provide a safe and welcoming harbor during the holidays. Let’s take a look at a few.
Should You Stay Open On Thanksgiving Day?
Knowing whether or not you should stay open is worth serious consideration. Will you have enough traffic to justify opening? Is it worth bringing in staff who may need and value that time with their families? The bottom line is your bottom line here. There are a lot of chain restaurants open on Thanksgiving, so it’s worth considering if you have something unique to offer.
Unless this is your first year, business intelligence tools and some kitchen display systems (KDS) will provide data analytics to see how much traffic you saw. You can look at the time surrounding the holidays and, when possible, look at the holiday itself. If you are new, consider asking your neighbors. You might also consider putting up a poll of some sort, internally and externally, to determine if there is a need for the public or if your staff are available.
Advertise If You Stay Open
Once you’ve chosen to stay open, make sure that you get the word out. You can contact local media, who are often keen to report on holiday alternatives. Take to social media. Having a robust Facebook or Instagram presence can help get the word out. You can use tools like Sprout or Hootsuite to schedule posts if you’re time is at a premium.
Make sure that you’ve updated your Google My Business page, your website, as well as any other social media accounts that you have so that everyone knows that you are an option that day. It’s a little thing, but easy to lose in the shuffle. Lastly, if you have specials or a theme for the week, make sure everyone knows. But more on that in a bit.
Provide a Sanctuary From Retail Hell
While once holiday shopping kicked off with Black Friday, “Early Bird” Specials are part of the paradigm. That means that retailers are kicking things off on Thanksgiving and sometimes a little ahead of time. With days of shopping and deals out there, you can offer a calm in the storm. By providing a quiet reprieve from the seasonal madness, you can draw in guests who either want a change of scenery after their big dinner or who are just tired of shopping.
Get Into Friendsgiving
Non-traditional families are more and more commonplace, with people finding family ties outside of any biological connection. Holiday depression is an unfortunate reality for a lot of people, especially if they have a strained relationship with their blood relatives. The holidays tend to focus on your relationships, whether that’s family or otherwise, which is difficult for many.
A great way to help others stave off the aforementioned depression is to focus on new traditions like Friendsgiving, which celebrates equally the relationships you have with friends outside of family, and how important those bonds are. Whether it’s on Thanksgiving itself or the time surrounding it, you can advertise your restaurant as an alternative to the holiday grind, a place for friends to get together and enjoy their bonds.
Thanksgiving Holiday Options
There are plenty of ways to look at Thanksgiving options for your restaurant. How flexible is your menu? Do you have any staple Thanksgiving food on your menu, or will that require you to order different ingredients in advance and take a chance? If you have a recipe viewer, making these adjustments will come a bit easier, as your staff will have the ability to move to newer and different recipes consistently. Let’s take a look at a few more Thanksgiving marketing tips for your restaurant.
Are yams, potatoes, green beans, or other Thanksgiving staples available near you? Finding a local alternative can become part of your marketing campaign, defining your contribution to the Thanksgiving holiday, while giving providing a sustainable alternative. While all your food originates on a farm at some point in the supply chain, the farm-to-table movement focuses on locally sourced foods.
For example, turkey is one of the most popular dishes served on Thanksgiving, and live in 49 of the 50 states in the United States. It’s that abundance that likely signals their commonality on the Thanksgiving menu and one that may present a farm-to-table challenge if you live somewhere where they don’t. Can you reproduce something like cranberry sauce without cranberries? Are there local grains and spices that would help you make an entirely homegrown stuffing? These are a few ideas you can pull from, and fortunately, there is plenty out there to help you on your journey.
In the U.S., traditional Thanksgiving meals tend to skew carb-heavy and towards comfort food. Are your clients sick of mashed potatoes, turkey, gravy, and stuffing? Are they looking for a sharp alternative? By offering something different, you can provide something fresh for the holiday that is equally satisfying but off the beaten path. Find something that compliments your menu, and build a meal course and subsequent marketing campaign on that.
Don’t forget: plenty of your guests might not eat meat at all. Is it time for a vegetarian or vegan alternative? If that’s something you can put on the menu, you can bring in a substantial portion of the crowd who are otherwise passed over by traditionally prepared Thanksgiving dinners.
Thanksgiving leftovers are almost as much a part of the tradition as the meal itself. For many in the U.S., that translates to days of cold turkey sandwiches at lunch. But there are so many creative options that allow you to explore the breadth of your leftover fare. Everything from turkey pot pie and stuffing waffles is on the table. Find what suits you best, from breakfast to dinner, and build that into your marketing efforts.
Make Sure Everyone Feels Thanked
It’s Thanksgiving! Make sure that your guests feel a little extra welcomed on a day that may have had a tough day. Whether you stay open or not, make sure your staff feels the love. Host a party for them or give them a day off to relax as possible, but show that you appreciate them. And once all is said and done, thank yourself for knowing and utilizing your thanksgiving marketing tips for your restaurant.
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About the Author
Syd was a content marketing specialist, which are fancy words for writing pretty to tell a good story. He likes writing things about food, drinks, and music. He’s a musician himself, a father of two, and loves his wife a whole lot.