Halloween is quickly approaching, and savvy restaurant marketing professionals are preparing for an exciting and fun opportunity. Halloween-themed promotions and events can not only please your existing restaurant customers, they can bring new ones in.
If you haven’t made plans yet, now is the time to get started. Here are some great Halloween restaurant marketing and promotion ideas that are sure to get you, your customers and your staff in the spirit!
Spookify Your Front-of-House
Nothing gets patrons into the spirit of Halloween more than the right atmosphere. Decorating your restaurant can make a huge difference in the overall customer experience. It's really simple to do, and you can’t go wrong with orange and black. Use balloons and crepe paper to set the tone. A little can go a long way.
And don’t forget the accessories. Pumpkins, candles, cobwebs, skeletons, or anything that screams Halloween will do their part in creating a foreboding, yet festive atmosphere.
Host Your Own Costume Party
There’s no reason not to consider hosting a costume party for your guests. But you must start planning early and getting the word out via social media, email and word-of-mouth. Make sure your front-of-house staff inform all patrons of your Halloween party plans and consider printing table tents and signage to help promote your ideas.
On Halloween, encourage your wait staff to come to work in costume, and make sure to give out prizes to customers with the most authentic, the scariest, the funniest and the most outrageous costumes of the evening. If you’re short on funds, you can ask other local businesses to donate a prize in return for promoting their business.
As Halloween nears, people will soon be wondering what to do, or where to go. This can help get more of your loyal patrons in the door, as well as new customers.
Add Seasonal Menu and Drink Items
Consider adding or changing menu items to relate to the Halloween atmosphere. Some restaurants even print a Halloween Menu that showcases the Halloween-related food and drink items and adds a few everyday items, but with spooky new names.
Don’t forget to get creative with your drink menu as well. And consider adding dessert items like pumpkin pie, carrot cake, or a multi-person “death by dessert” item.
And remember, nothing is hotter right now than pumpkin-spiced <insert any food or drink item here>!
Another great idea is to set up a small section of your front-of-house as a scary, Halloween-themed photo booth. Have customers take selfies and post them on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Make sure your logo or restaurant name is in the background.
Encourage guests to join in the photo fun by offering prizes to random posters who use a specific hashtag in their post on Facebook or Instagram, for instance.
Get Into The Pumpkin Spirit
Halloween is all about pumpkins – jack-o-lanterns, actually. In the days and weeks leading up to Halloween, why not sell whole and pre-carved pumpkins at, or near, your main entryway. You can also offer pumpkin carving kits, tea candles, gourds, and other Halloween-themed decorating item for adults and children.
This will not only help your guests get into the Halloween spirit, but it offers a great space to promote your costume contest, Halloween menu, photo booth and social media hashtags.
Don’t Forget the Kids
Although adults have made Halloween a holiday for all ages, let’s not forget that it’s really about the kids. Unfortunately, not all children can have candy and other sweet treats, so consider giving all your pre-teen guests a goodie bag filled with other things, like vampire teeth, stickers, pencils, rubbery bugs and other items.
This allows you to please the kids (who might later ask mom and dad to go back to your restaurant) without singling out those who cannot have the sugary sundries.
Promote, Promote, Promote
You can have the best Halloween plans in the world for your restaurant, but if nobody knows about them, it’s not going to do you much good. So you have to promote your plans to your customers and local community. And make sure to ask them to "tell your friends!"
If you’re using a WiFi marketing platform, or you are collecting customer email addresses, you can send an email out to your customer list. If possible, send separate messages to the separate audience groups (ages, genders, parents, etc.) so that you can showcase the specific things that would appeal to them.
If you already send out an established, regular newsletter or email to your customer base, make it Halloween-themed this month. It will grab the reader’s attention and help them get the word out.
If you advertise in local media, make sure to advertise all the amazing things you’ll be doing at your restaurant on Halloween.
Likewise, you should be using social media to get the word out. Post on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you have images, make sure to include them. And if you have video, that’s even better.
Make It a Long-Term Play
Make sure that all of these customers are logging into your WiFi to post on Instagram or check-in on Facebook. By logging into your WiFi, you’ll be collecting their customer contact information, and you’ll be able to track their behavior while at your location every time they revisit – whether they log into WiFi or not.
This gives you a valuable opportunity to increase the size of your customer profile database, and remarket to them, getting them back through your doors over and over again, all year long. This will increase your customer lifetime values while driving advertising costs down.
To learn more about WiFi marketing and analytics, check out our page “What is WiFi Marketing?”
What will you be doing at your restaurant for Halloween? Let us know in the comments below.
We hope these ideas spark your creativity and allow you to have a successful All Hallows’ Eve at your establishment.