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Experiences offer a way to make memories and money

By OpenTable

- Last updated on GMT

Experiences offer a way to make memories and money OpenTable

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Across the country, diners are returning excited to make reservations again. They have a whole year of missed special occasions and get-togethers to catch up on and they are ready to celebrate, indoors and outdoors.

OpenTable data​ reveals that 64% of diners say they’re planning to make up for lost celebrations at restaurants.  That’s why now is the perfect time to create special experiences​ for them to enjoy.

Whether it’s a bottomless brunch or a multi-course extravaganza, experiences feel more special than a standard lunch or dinner out. Sometimes people are looking for something that will make their visit to a restaurant feel memorable, and experiences are likely to catch their attention. Crucially, experiences can also increase a restaurant’s revenue and give guests exactly what they want at the same time. Here’s how to make the most of this feature:

Go big or go … small (it’s up to you)

When it comes to designing experiences, you have options. Hosting a happy hour  doesn’t require event planning skills, but for guests, it’s a party they don’t have to clean up after. They love it. However, you can also use experiences to create a somewhat more elaborate event. Maybe a bottomless brunch with live music, set menus, or a Sunday roast is the right fit for your crowd. Or you could take it to the next level with something more ambitious: As restaurants began to reopen their doors, The Drover Arms Restaurant & Country Pub​ in York got creative with their outdoor space and erected huts and tipis for their guests to enjoy their meals outdoors with views of the countryside. 

When you offer people an experience they love, it deepens their connection to you and increases their loyalty. Check out what the average experience costs in your region here​to get a feel for what local guests might want and expect in an experience.

Get increased visibility on OpenTable search

Often people come to OpenTable without a specific restaurant or plans in mind. Some are looking for ideas, and your experience can inspire them. When you launch an experience, it’s automatically displayed on your profile page where these potential guests can easily see it. When browsing for restaurant options and night-out ideas, it can pop up in their searches. Additionally, your experience appears just under the available reservation times. This can either draw in guests all by itself or lead them to book both an experience (like bottomless brunch) and a reservation. Then, they’ll spend more time (and money) soaking in your food, drinks, and hospitality.

Take a creative approach to seasonal experiences

Plan your event calendar  for the rest of the year. The festive season is almost upon us, help diners reconnect and celebrate with an experience. How? Offer a Christmas-themed afternoon tea or take a lesser-known “holiday” and run with it. Mark your calendar for Vegan Month (November), Halloween, or Guy Fawkes night  and then brainstorm possible experiences with your team.

Use a unique URL to spread the word

Once you’ve got your experience all teed up, use OpenTable to create a unique URL​ to promote the event. A quirky, creative experience gives you something to talk about online and a link to share on social media and in your email newsletter. The ease and simplicity of a one-click URL can help your regulars spread the word, too.

Host a wine or beer tasting

Given the appeal of happy hour, it’s no surprise that wine and beer tastings are also a hit with diners. OpenTable data shows that 41% of people would be most likely to book at a restaurant offering these tastings, and 49% said they want to go once or twice a year. It’s a natural opportunity to showcase your draft and wine list, but it also presents the opportunity to partner with another local business. Team up with a local brewery, spirit brand or wine supplier to create a night local food enthusiasts won’t want to miss. Typically offered at a higher price point, wine and beer tastings can be a reliable way to boost revenue.

Plan a special prix fixe dinner

Everyone endured at least one socially distant birthday, without the fun of gathering their gang at a favourite restaurant. Now, diners want to go all out. 52% say that they want to celebrate birthdays and other special occasions with special prix fixe dinner menus. This is a win-win situation because set menus take the guesswork out of the night’s covers and revenue. They can also fill the restaurant on an otherwise slow night, like Monday or Tuesday.

These multi-course events give your chef the chance to get creative and stray from the regular set menu. Highlight a seasonal ingredient, choose a culinary theme (lasagne, family-style!), invite a guest chef, or try something out of the box (spotlight local ingredients). Use add-ons to set a base price with optional upgrades. For example, it’s an easy way to upsell a special bottle of wine, add wine pairings, or offer a high-end supplement, like shaved truffle.

Combat no-shows

Unfortunately, guests’ post-pandemic zeal for restaurants has not erased the headache of no-shows. With experiences, you can choose to make your event prepaid, which removes the looming threat of no-shows from your evening. A prepayment isn’t the right move for every situation, which is why you have the flexibility to decide to make an experience prepaid or not. You choose what works for you.

This is a historic moment in the restaurant business. The industry has faced (and continues to face) challenges and changes born of the pandemic. This moment of public re-emergence is a big opportunity for restaurants. Creating experiences that work for you and resonate with your guests can help you make the most of it.

Related topics: Advice

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