The COVID crisis has called for limited indoor dining. The solution for the Spring and Summer months was a very productive one. Clearing sidewalks and streets for outdoor dining allowed restaurants to stay in business and happily serve customers. This was a huge hit as the ambiance of eating outside during sunset was quite enjoyable. However, the warm weather does not last forever. Restaurants now have a fear of struggling financially during these winter months. Thus, new and creative ideas must emerge for both the business and consumer to enjoy a dining out experience.
One way to keep customers in is by investing in igloo structures, pergolas, or tents. Creating an outdoor experience of different sized igloos for parties of 2-10 will give your restaurant a new-age edge. Igloo dining is a unique experience that will intrigue people into coming to your restaurant for more than just the food. Consider offering the igloos for private parties to make the most of the investment. When it comes to tents, however, you must be careful about the safety of your customers. You cannot have an enclosed heated tent, as it is unsafe. You must decide between an enclosed tent or heaters. Choosing a tent with flaps may be a better option and you can add heat sources throughout.
Adding heat lamps and fireplaces is not only a comfortable solution, but it will give the customers a warm and homey feel. While you can scatter the lamps and fireplaces around your area of dining, adding table heaters to each table will provide direct warmth for each dining party. This combination will provide an overall heated experience. As a backup option to ensure complete comfort, have blankets available for any customer who may still be chilly.
Use this as an opportunity to create a Winter Wonderland. Focus on creating an ambiance and aesthetically pleasing atmosphere to draw customers in. Add both fake and real plants to make the dining experience enjoyable. Plants are natural air filters, which will help with any toxins in the air and they add a touch of humidity-- and every little bit of warmth helps!
Change Your Menu and Play Up Your Strengths
Make sure you are staying fiscally responsible. Making purchases like igloos and tents can be expensive. Make the most of your options. Highlight lunch specials to encourage people to come for lunch when you may be slower and while the sun is still out and during the warmest hours of the day. Offer new promotions to draw in a crowd. As for the dinner customers, provide hot and hearty meals; slow cooker-type meals that are sustainable and warming. Consider deals like a free hot chocolate or a cup of coffee. Get creative with your menu to make the customer’s experience enjoyable so they know you care about their comfort and come back.
Create and Monetize Virtual Events
Use this time to strategize ways to get your customers to interact with you online. Create virtual events like cooking classes, wine pairings, or how to make a charcuterie board. If you host events like Quizzo or Karaoke, give people the option to do it online.
Creating Merchandise is the perfect way for customers to support your business. Clothing items like T-shirts, sweatshirts, and hats are the perfect way an enthusiastic customer can feel like they are part of your restaurant’s team. For those coming to dine-in during these cooler months, have the option of a signature blanket they can purchase if they are cold. Most importantly, if they forgot a mask, make sure you have ones they can purchase. Create promotions where if they purchase any of these items they get a free drink or appetizer next time they come in. Our friends over at Northbrook Press have multiple capabilities and work well in B2B relationships!
We’re Here to Help!
Still unsure of where to begin? Skigital is here to help! This is a stressful time and calls for big and creative changes to what your business has been doing for years. If you are struggling with ideas or execution, Skigital can help aid you in services or consultations that will ramp up your sales going into the cooler months ahead.
As the weather continues to get colder, it is inevitable that you will have to restrategize your outdoor dining experience. It may seem stressful, and it is going to be hard work, but following these tips will help you be successful in the long run. More importantly, it will keep your customers happy and allow them to continue dining at their favorite restaurant even during the winter.
If you have come up with creative ideas already, that’s great! But, understand that it doesn’t stop there. Now, more than ever, it’s important to communicate these updates, changes, and fun ideas to your potential customers throughout every channel you can. Use Skigital as a crutch to send that information out through avenues such as social media, blogs, email marketing, text messaging, ads, and more!
For a quick conversation, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.