5 Ways to Win During Restaurant Week

Citywide restaurant promotions are an excellent way to fill seats and promote a restaurant. Here’s how to grab your share of the business.

Aug 11, 2015 Winston Lord

We know by now that restaurant week is worth it, but how should you get your staff and restaurant ready? Venga—a CRM that integrates OpenTable and point-of-sale data—analyzed the data and we pulled together a list of best practices based on how this week is different from your average week. Here's a game plan:

1. Keep a waitlist. No-shows run about average during restaurant week, but cancellations are more common: 30 percent of reservations made for restaurant week are cancelled, compared to 24 percent during the periods before and after. Make sure to call your guests and confirm the day before or the day of the reservation. Better yet: Keep a waitlist of your call-in requests to fill last-minute spots.

2. Expect lots of couples. Party sizes are slightly smaller during restaurant week. Some 54 percent of reservations are for two-tops, versus 50 percent during other times. Make sure to arrange your dining room with plenty of seating for smaller parties

3. Put your best foot forward. Many restaurant owners gripe about restaurant week and other "discount" promotions, blaming them for bringing in hoards of frugal first time diners that they'll never see again. This turns out to be false. It’s true that a larger proportion of guests during restaurant week are making their first visit to the restaurant (78 percent compared to 74 percent). But guests who visit during restaurant week may be more likely to return (12 percent more likely compared to other weeks). Make sure to shine with your best staff. Put out show-stopping dishes (it's a limited menu, so this should be easy, right?). Come up with a follow-up strategy and other postmeal touch points that will get those guests back in your door.

4. Start early. Promote your restaurant week experience early with email campaigns and social media posts. Diners are thinking about this meal with more anticipation than others. More guests book in advance for restaurant week: 41 percent booked three days or more in advance, compared to 34 percent during other times of the year. Get on their radar early so they choose you.

5. Consider upgrades. Despite decreased restaurant week prices, guests end up spending the same amount as they do the periods before and after. A slightly larger proportion of this is spent on food even with a prix fixe menu. Make sure to offer add-ons to each course, like wagyu beef or pricier appetizers.