For many holidays, the festive sentiment that accompanies the holiday begins well before the day of celebration and occasionally lingers on a few days after. How many of you heard Christmas songs playing on the radio well before Thanksgiving? How many of your neighbors’ Christmas lights will still be up past New Year’s? In the restaurant industry, fewer holidays receive more attention to detail the day of than New Year’s Eve. Spouses try and treat each other to a romantic evening, friends try to make their nights as memorable as possible, and then there are the lovebirds who try to achieve a balance between both. Although consumers may feel some anxiety when planning out their New Year’s Eve plans, restaurants feel an immense amount of pressure to come through for people in celebration of the New Year.
You’ll see a lot of pre-fixed menus or packaged dinner deals on New Year’s Eve. Whether it’s a buffet of party food or full course meals, restaurants can use New Year’s Eve night to get diners to purchase more. Of course, your restaurant will want to establish a party atmosphere, where diners will be compelled to stick around for a lengthy bit of time and enjoy themselves (perhaps making cocktail and champagne purchases all the while).
Restaurants have the opportunity to charge premium prices for price-fixed special menu items and drink offers. If price fixed menus aren’t something your restaurant likes to offer (it is somewhat of a common practice on holidays such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and New Year’s Eve), consider a limited a la carte menu instead.
There are many ways apart from the menu to make an impression on diners for New Year’s Eve. Restaurants can offer carry-out deals for parents with children or stay open later for when the kids get to bed. A local restaurant can also partner with an area taxi or limo service to ensure diners have a safe passage home or to the rest of their night’s entertainment.
If the intrigue is there, sell tickets to your New Year’s Eve event. This way, you won’t need to turn customers away as the clock approaches midnight, and you might be able to create some sort of buzz for your event if the tickets are limited. If tickets are still available leading up to the night of the event, you can sell them at the door. More importantly, you’ll want to set the mood for New Year’s Eve, which means you’ll need to create a lively atmosphere with music and party favors.
The Night’s Entertainment
Themed parties work well for these purposes (i.e. Roaring Twenties, Summer of Love, 80s Night, etc.), and the music and attire should be easy to coordinate with your theme. Themed or not, décor for the night can be made simple with balloons and by hanging white lights and streamers. Think about hosting a photographer in your restaurant, or bring in a live band to get people moving in their seats or onto the dance floor. If your restaurant doesn’t have a lot of free space to offer, consider bringing in a comedian or a magician to entertain your patrons.
Plan for a midnight celebration too! If you’re selling tickets to your event, present an open bar option or provide complimentary champagne after dinner. If you have the resources and the right layout, consider hosting a firework show outside of your restaurant once the clock strikes midnight for some real ooh’s and aah’s.
Get Your Name Out, Make An Impression
Last but not least, sit-down restaurants see a natural rise in traffic on New Year’s Eve, so use the opportunity to promote to future potential customers. Promote your special events and deals for the upcoming year, and give diners a taste of what’s to come on your menu. Hand out t-shirts and party favors with your restaurant’s name printed on them. The party favor will act as a memorable keepsake and may influence them to return in the near future.
With the right approach to New Year’s Eve, you can end the year on a good note in both sales and in your restaurant’s overall image. Make an impression on your select New Year’s Eve guests, and make them feel special on a special night of celebration. If they can draw a positive connection to your establishment from a night of good fun, the chances are you that will see them return in the new year.