Using Digital Marketing to Increase Group Dining Bookings

Group dining bookings are an essential source of revenue for many restaurants. Here’s how to maximize group bookings through smart restaurant marketing.

The restaurant game isn’t for the faint of heart. Roughly 60% of new restaurants fail in the first year, and 80% fail within five years. That’s the kind of math that will momentarily subdue even the giddiest new restaurant industry entrepreneur.

Developing a significant and sustainable pipeline of corporate and group bookings is one of the best methods for ensuring your restaurant beats these grim odds. Yet, many restaurant owners simply have no idea how to implement this strategy.

Let’s take a closer look at how smart digital restaurant marketing can jumpstart your group bookings business.

The Power and Reach of Digital Restaurant Marketing

Digital technology has radically disrupted countless industries and altered consumer behavior in innumerable ways. Streaming services, for example, allow people to enjoy on-demand films in the privacy of their living room — something that has led to US movie theater attendance dropping to a 25-year low.

Restaurants, however, have been insulated from this trend. While there have been efforts to let consumers have meals prepared by chefs in their own homes, these concepts haven’t gained much traction. Right now, people still enjoy eating in a communal setting.

Digital tools, however, have changed the playing field for how restaurants secure business. Major platforms such as OpenTable transformed how reservations are handled; Yelp now acts as a critical guide for consumers looking for new places to dine; platforms such as Instagram are bursting with photos and videos of plated food.

Savvy marketers take advantage of the new digital paradigm by doing the following:

  • Building a robust online presence. This includes a dedicated website and accounts with major reservation and aggregation sites.
  • Social media outreach. Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat are all critical channels for engaging with customers and advertising and marketing new menu items, discounts and specials, etc. 
  • The creation of a valuable online brand. Today’s diners are looking for experiences, rather than just meals, when they visit higher-end eateries. Digital branding plays a key role is promoting awareness and establishing cachet in a local market.
  • Taking advantage of the latest digital marketing tools. One example is geo-fencing, a mobile marketing technique that allows restaurants to push notifications to the smartphones of people within a pre-defined geographical distance.

Gobbling Up Group Booking Revenue

Most of the above techniques are also useful in terms of stimulating more group bookings. Digital marketing plays a crucial role in surfacing your restaurant to the people who determine where to schedule their bookings.

Another sound idea: Designating a dedicated person to help with group dining outreach. Many restaurants use a similar model for organizing group meals onsite by hiring an event planner. Should you designate someone to handle group business development, that person can use digital marketing tools to identify corporate decision-makers, and to engage with regular restaurant patrons prior to birthdays and other celebratory milestones.

Taking an active approach and contacting potential group clients in advance of these milestones is a great way to increase bookings, as people generally dislike having to search for group dinner locations. By taking the initiative through digital outreach, you can remove this task from their plate.

One note: When reaching out to corporate customers for holiday-related group dinners or other special events, it’s essential to do this well ahead of time. Corporations often begin planning such affairs weeks, if not months, ahead of time.

Why Bigeye is the Perfect Restaurant Marketing Partner

At Bigeye, we have an insatiable appetite for designing compelling group dining marketing campaigns — and we have all the right ingredients on staff to make it happen. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your grow your group dining business.

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