6 Valentine’s Day tips to get the most from this year

Two people cheering with champagne and oysters

Valentine’s Day is one of the most popular days for restaurant reservations. By creating a Valentine’s Day prix fixe menu, a few romantic specials, or a memorable experience, you can get even more mileage out of the holiday. Here’s how to approach Valentine’s Day this year in ways that will delight your diners, get people talking about, and help you build on your success.


Extend Valentine’s Day beyond the 14th

It’s a good strategy to start the Valentine’s Day theme going a few days before the holiday so everyone can get a chance to enjoy it. Healthcare workers and other essential workers have evening or overnight shifts even on holidays, so extending Valentine’s Day can help them celebrate and feel included, too.

The holiday falls on a Tuesday this year, so this tactic is especially smart. Marketing your restaurant as a Galentine’s or Palentine’s Day destination and a spot for couples to drop in all week long can increase covers.

Partner with another brand

Double your Valentine’s Day marketing reach by teaming up with other community businesses that share a target demographic. Partnerships give diners an extra incentive to come in, and restaurants enjoy access to another brand’s audience.

Some restaurants have had success partnering with local beauty shops to give out gift bags with product samples. You could team up with a local florist to include flowers for people to add to their order or offer their date at dinner. Alternatively, use the occasion to give back to the community, donating a dollar from every item sold to a local charity.

Invite diners to become regulars

Special occasions may attract first-time guests, but a bit of effort can turn them into regulars. Post signs or print menus asking Valentine’s Day guests to tag your restaurant on social media, then leave comments and ask permission to re-post.

Giveaways and other promotions give you a chance to thank them for their visit, and invite them to special events big (wine pairing dinner with the winemaker) and small (dessert on the house Tuesdays) throughout the year. Record memorable moments and dining preferences in OpenTable’s Guest Notes, and target repeat diners using OpenTable’s digital marketing. You can recognize guests who come back and treat them to more of what they loved.

A couple eating at a restaurant and smiling at each other while having dinner

Close the loop on marketing campaigns

Restaurants using OpenTable’s marketing tracking can measure reservations and revenue back to digital marketing channels and campaigns. If you’re tracking already, see how many guests booked as a result of a Google Ad or email send. You can also track ROI on email campaigns with OpenTable’s relationship management features. Whether you promoted a special Valentine’s Day menu or targeted your VIPs to welcome them back, check in to see how many covers and how much revenue was generated directly from your email marketing efforts. (If not, be sure to set up tracking for Mother’s Day!)

Dig into the data

Review the books to see who dined with you on Valentine’s Day. Make note of first-time guests and repeat ones, locals and out-of-towners in guest notes. Integrate your OpenTable and POS systems to analyze the most popular and profitable menu items (from a regular or set menu) and beverages, such as cocktails or bottles of wine.

Thank your guests

Say thank you. Create an email campaign to thank guests who celebrated the holiday with you and invite them back in. If you served a special Valentine’s Day menu, showcase standout items from the regular menu to pique their interest. Consider an incentive for those who come back, such as a complimentary dessert. Don’t forget to add marketing tracking, so you know exactly what worked.