When to Promote for the Fall and Winter Holidays

Marketing your restaurant is delicate. When it comes to the major holidays that happen in the autumn and winter, you have to get a head start to catch customers’ attention. But starting too early risks annoying them with out-of-season ads that won’t stick in their heads come showtime. That’s a waste of money, too. Some customers start holiday shopping in October, well before Black Friday, so that’s not the marker for when to promote new sales either.

When should your restaurant start marketing for the late holidays?

Ready for the Big Holidays?

Halloween

The best time to start announcing your spooky sales is September, but not too soon. Customers start getting in the Halloween spirit about a month prior. More and more people get excited the closer it gets to the day.

When it comes to the promotions themselves, restaurants are encouraged to get creative. You don’t have to invent all-new menus to get in the Halloween spirit either. Use your imagination to use what you already have on hand. Add orange dye and bat-themed decorations, for example, or change the drinks to have more festive names. Just these little touches add up to a fun Halloween atmosphere when the sales begin.

Thanksgiving

It’s optimal to start advertising three weeks before Thanksgiving. Stay mindful that Halloween just passed. Just afterwards is around when social media platforms notice an uptick in clicks for relevant Turkey Day buzzwords, so do what you can to end up in those search results. Joining Google My Business is a great way to get more online traffic to your webpages and socials, where you then have the opportunity to convert clicks to sales (or at least reservations that portends profit). As soon as Halloween ends, overhaul the decorations for Thanksgiving ASAP.

Christmas

There’s a reason that promos for the December holidays often coincide with Thanksgiving. Start rolling out the Christmas decor in mid-November, because that’s when the customers will start looking for deals. If you have a webstore, for example, where you may sell branded t-shirts and mugs, you’ll have enough time to advertise your Black Friday prices. Then customers have plenty of time to get excited for it, too.

As one of the major holidays, Christmas sales don’t end when the promotions do—or even on Christmas itself. Often, businesses keep them going all the way through New Year. Plenty of people shop after the holidays because of next-day price drops, and others celebrate with different friends when they all have time. Keep the promotions going and the sales will stay steady, too.

What Happens if You Promote Too Late?

The fall and winter holidays are traditionally quite profitable. If you don’t promote early enough in the year, you may not have enough stock to meet all the demand when hungry customers all pour in at once. The rush could also result in slower service which hurts customer satisfaction, table turns and servers’ tips. Also, waiting to promote your restaurant means wasting time that could be pulling in profit from these deals. Start early and the crowd will trickle in, which is easier for staff to handle, provides a better overall experience and gives you the most possible benefits from these major holidays.

Still, these are simply guidelines. What works best for your restaurant isn’t a one-size-fits-all thing. For example, men are more likely to begin shopping later than women. This is just one small statistic, but it demonstrates that your target demographic heavily affects spending habits and what promotions will do well. More useful than conforming to the “average,” rely on smart Point of Sale systems to generate real-time reports about sales trends and consumer habits. Set your restaurant on the right long-term track.

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