The Feast of Saint Valentine is long-established as a celebration of love and relationships, in Britain and across the world. Indeed, its popularity appears to be growing.
Of course, it also provokes cynicism. Especially when hearts and flowers-themed displays arrive in high street shop windows so soon after the Christmas credit card bills drop through our letterboxes.
But, why shouldn’t romance have a calendar day all of its own? And what’s wrong with a spot of frivolity amid the deep midwinter, as cold winds blow and new year resolutions falter?
A big night for restaurants
Unsurprisingly, the restaurant trade tends to encourage the observation of this obscure saint’s feast day. After all, February 14th is one of the biggest occasions of the year for eating out.
According to ‘Restaurant Insights 2020‘, a report from Paymentsense, Valentine’s Day takings are 8% above average. What’s more, nearly 30% of consumers celebrate in restaurants (twice the level of Christmas) a figure that rises to 40% for couples.
So, it makes good sense to strew the tables with red roses, create new chocolate menu options and perhaps even invite a Spanish guitarist to sit in the corner and strum romantic melodies amid the candlelit aura.
However, the report also points out another type of red-letter day that is even more profitable for restaurants – and it takes place virtually every night of the year…we’re talking about birthdays.
The everyday red-letter day
Did you know that while 29% of the population eat out on Valentine’s Day, this figure rises to 74% for birthdays and involves consumers of all ages? In addition, many us see birthdays as the one day of the year when it’s okay to break the bank.
Birthday bookings have other benefits too. They are often celebrated in big groups, which boosts takings and brings in new customers. They also create an upbeat positivity that can enhance any restaurant’s atmosphere.
So how do you get more birthday bookings?
These nights are so lucrative that it’s worth incentivising diners with special offers. Free champagne on arrival, free desserts or two-for-one meals are obvious choices.
Birthday incentives can also form part of larger schemes such as loyalty programmes, birthday clubs or regular newsletters.
Other personal touches can really help. Family restaurants always score big with a prearranged cake and chorus of ‘Happy Birthday.’ Fancier places could bring the chef to the table to pay birthday respects in person, especially for milestone birthdays.
Restaurants should prioritise personal occasions
The numbers show that birthdays, wedding anniversaries, graduations and similar events should receive at least as much attention as annual events. And by delivering unique, personalised experiences, restaurants can win new and repeat customers – on any day, at any time of year.
Of course, Valentine’s Day will continue to offer a lucrative opportunity, but the calendar has many other days in which to spread the love.
If you’re feeling inspired to spruce up your menu for events, check out the top five food trends for 2020.