We all know that Halloween brings in huge sales numbers for the candy and costume industries, but it’s also a time of year where restaurants of all sizes can make their fair share of profits too. According to the National Retail Federation, total Halloween spending is expected to reach $8.4 billion this year in the US alone. Although the majority of that money will go towards costumes, decorations, and treats, part of it will definitely be spent on restaurants. Let’s take a look at a few restaurant marketing ideas that your restaurant can use this Halloween to scare up more business!
Revamp your menu
Halloween is a great time to highlight seasonal fall flavors on your menu. Speak with your chef about ideas for creating dishes that feature seasonal ingredients like pumpkin, sweet potato, butternut squash, etc. You can run a special menu through the rest of October, or just for the Halloween weekend with pricing per item. Don’t forget cocktails as well. A quick online search will provide you with plenty of ideas for cocktail mixes that use ingredients already stocked at most bars. For example, grenadine can be used to simulate the look of blood for layered drinks or shots, and cranberry juice can add a crimson tone to vampire-themed drinks.
If you don’t have time to add new menu items, you can also temporarily rename a few bestsellers to add a little Halloween flair. Think along the lines of “boo-ritos” or “franken-furters”. Simply renaming a few menu items will give your restaurant a fun Halloween vibe and should only take a few minutes from your restaurant POS system.
Partner with local businesses and attractions
Halloween is also a great time to team-up with local businesses or attractions that are designed to give a fright in late October. You could, for example, include tickets to a local haunted house, hayride, or pumpkin patch with the purchase of a table d’hote meal, or sell them in your restaurant at a reasonable rate. If there’s a costume store in your area, you could offer to keep rebate flyers on your bar or at the hostess stand. In turn, these local attractions can offer visitors gift cards or discount coupons to use at your restaurant.
Not only will partnering with local businesses and attractions deepen your connection with the community, but it will also expand your customer base and open doors to further collaborations down the road.
Decorate your dining room
Decorating your restaurant allows you to get as creative as you want. For a subtly eerie vibe, you could simply dim the lighting and have a few strategically-placed cobwebs strewn about, or put Halloween centerpieces on your tables. If you want to go all-out, you can hang skeletons from the walls, place jack-o-lanterns around the restaurant, and sprinkle plastic spiders on your tabletops. Visiting a party or decoration store around Halloween will inspire you and show you that there really is no limit to how far you can go in creating a spooky ambiance.
For an added touch, sync your dining room’s soundtrack with whichever Halloween atmosphere you choose to set. You can pipe creepy sounds at low volume, or create a party vibe with a playlist that includes upbeat tunes like “Thriller” and the theme song from “Ghostbusters”.
Get your staff dressed to kill
Having your staff dress up for the occasion can be a great way to give patrons a fun and memorable experience. Many neighborhood restaurants are known for celebrating Halloween by dressing up their staff — a great way to get some word-of-mouth publicity.
You can choose a theme for your staff’s costumes, or let them pick their own get-ups individually.Either way, you’ll be showcasing your restaurant as the place to be for Halloween. Having your staff dress up will also put them in a great mood, which will guarantee a night of great service for new and existing patrons.
Host a frightful event
Hosting a Halloween party at your restaurant is a great way to boost sales and guarantee some return business. Adults enjoy Halloween just as much as kids, and you can decide in advance whether or not you want your party to be kid friendly. There are dozens of activities patrons can take part in, whereby winners can take home prizes such as gift cards, dinner for 2 vouchers, or whatever you decide, including:
- Costume contests
- Pumpkin carving contests (have a plastic covered table set-up in advance!)
- Apple bobbing
Hosting a halloween party also gives you the chance to focus all of your marketing efforts like decorations and a custom menu into one night. Don’t forget to hand out treat bags that include your business card!
Promote both in-store and online
Whether you decide to throw a party on Halloween day or offer promotions throughout the week, be sure to get the word out there. If you plan to offer a special menu for a limited time, for example, you can leave inexpensive printed versions on your bar leading up to the date, or placed neatly on tables. These can also be distributed to other businesses in the area.
Finally, social media is a great way to announce any Halloween promotions you may have. Let your existing audience know what your restaurant has going on, and attract a few interested new followers in the process.
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