Yikes! It’s nearly Christmas!

Don’t panic. If you’re a restaurateur, and you’re staring at an unusually quiet bookings diary for the next few weeks, all hope is not lost.

It might be tempting at times like this to convince yourself that the competition has stolen a march, or that people are simply far more inclined to stay in and watch a box set while munching on takeaway pizza, but there are still hundreds (if not thousands) of diners out there to grab!

Here’s some last minute Christmas marketing ideas for your restaurant. Get on them before the competition does!

Hold a festive event

Simply making your dishes more festive and adding a tree to the reception area isn’t enough if you want to bring in more trade at this time of the year. You need to be a bit more inventive, and, let’s be honest, put more effort into it!

For families, try a ‘Christmas with Santa’ event, or hold a Christmas party for your staff where the public are invited too. A midnight brunch, although taxing on the rota, is also a brilliant way to offer something a little bit more special during the festive season.

Bring back those who dined last year

Providing you’re using a modern restaurant booking system, you should have the ability to look back at last year’s bookings and reach out to the people who dined with you then.

As long as they’ve given their consent, you can go ahead and send out an email marketing campaign to tempt past festive diners back this Christmas. Offer a percentage discount, or reveal the events you’re holding (see our first tip, above).

Giving customers an incentive to return is a great way to win back diners who are already familiar with your restaurant and who may slowly become brand advocates!

Work with other local businesses

Chances are, you’re not the only business in the local community that is struggling to fill the books this Christmas.

With that in mind, reach out to other businesses in the area and see if you can partner up. Local pubs without dining facilities might love the idea of a little joint festive venture, and if there are any small events such as Christmas fairs or markets taking place, you could become the sole caterer if you make yourself known.

Develop a limited-time Christmas menu

This is common practice during the festive period for restaurants, but that’s for good reason – it works!

Creating a Christmas-inspired menu is also a great way to get regulars to come into your restaurant over the festive period and bring their family and friends along for the experience.

What’s more, you don’t have to invest too much time in it. Some of your existing dishes could be made more Christmassy – such as pork dishes being complimented with apple cider glaze, and the addition of festive post-meal drinks such as warming hot chocolates and gingerbread lattes.

Wrapping up

There’s no reason to panic this Christmas if you’re a restaurateur who needs to fill a few empty tables. Get creative, let your guard down and do things you’d never normally do, marketing-wise.

People still want to have a good time and remove themselves from the settee, so use our tips above to raise your festive spirits and get those empty tables filled!