Setting the Mood for Valentine’s DayJanuary 18, 2012 By: Alissa Ponchione
Hosting a Valentine’s Day promotion can be hit or miss. As a bar owner or operator, you know that it’s a day that will draw in crowds, but it doesn’t mean you’re exempt from putting something together. Your customers want to go to a place that’s doing something special on what is considered a very special day. Although Valentine’s Day isn’t the biggest holiday for bars and nightclubs monetarily, it’s important enough that it will get your name out there and establish you as the place to be.
The promotions experts at Patrick Henry Creative Promotions, a Houston-based food-and-beverage marketing firm, talked with us about hosting an event, noting that owners should “make it a commitment to be the best for your guests. They deserve it." Here are some more helpful tips and advice from the PHCP experts for hosting a Valentine’s Day promotion that will have guests engaged in your business for years to come.
Promo Power (PP): Why is it important for bar or club owners to throw a Valentine's Day promotion?
Patrick Henry Creative Promotions (PHCP): Valentine’s Day is like St Patrick’s Day. Guests expect there to be some kind of special promotion, deal or experience wherever they go. If you have nothing, you risk losing guests to another location that is doing something. The decision to go somewhere else is easy only if you make it easy.
PP: Is Valentine’s Day a popular night for bar and club owners?
PHCP: Valentine’s Day is popular for everyone. It doesn’t always make sense, but it’s like New Year’s Eve. People will make it out to mark the occasion — to celebrate romance or even to celebrate an anti-couple “Lonely Hearts” night.
PP: Is hosting a Valentine's Day promotion different from hosting other holiday promotions?
PHCP: It’s typically very female-driven. Ultimately, things are packaged in bundles of two or more to encourage the "date" crowd.
PP: What tips do you have for owners and operators hosting a Valentine's Day promotion that can differentiate them from the competition?
PHCP: Make sure that whatever you feature has value and that it makes sense for your guest. Many places will completely abandon their normal business model for this particular day. What may differentiate you is that you found a way to integrate the holiday in a way that fits your current way of doing things.
Also, some of your guests might not want to go out on such a busy night to avoid having to fight all of the other couples. If you make it easy for your guests to enjoy themselves without feeling like herded cattle, it’s better. Offer up specials for the days right before and after to overcome this potential guest dilemma.
For bars and clubs, it should be more singles-themed events. For restaurants, it should be a more romantic experience because dining lends itself to that. Include upgradable packages that make it easy to indulge — Champagne to start the night for $10; dessert and an after-dinner drink for $15. Add a bottle of wine or bubbly for $25, and so on, as well as sharable food or small plate tasters.
PP: What are some examples of a really good Valentine's Day promotion?
PHCP: Any unique cocktails, free chocolate-covered strawberries or Champagne toast with pre-fixe order can really elevate a guest’s experience. Speaking of chocolate-dipped strawberries and Champagne, The Melting Pot offers an intimate atmosphere for couples and is known as a couple’s spot for Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day packages vary by location, but typically include a welcoming Champagne toast accompanied by a four-course dinner, special framed photo of the evening and a $25 return gift certificate.
PP: Valentine's Day is a night associated with couples, but how do owners attract single people to go out on the holiday, as well?
PHCP: Valentine’s Day is not always about romance for everyone. Sometimes it is just the opposite. Create a haven for anti-Valentine’s Day crowds or create a singles event so those people have the hope of meeting a potential Valentine. There are those with and those without. You can’t target both. Those without want to party, mix and mingle — so make it fun! Those with want a romantic experience: Make it one. To capture additional revenue, offer a romance package to-go. It has everything you need to have a romantic dinner on your own turf, including food, dessert, drinks, candles and so on.
PP: How successful can a Valentine's Day promotion be for owners and operators?
PHCP: It is a great time to push your premium spirits and wine, especially by the bottle! But make sure you are prepared and stocked for this night. Compared to New Year’s Eve, this is the one night a year people are willing to purchase sparkling wine by the bottle and upgrade to that super-premium spirit. For some restaurants, it’s one of their most important times of the year.
PP: What is one big mistake that owners or operators always make when planning for Valentine’s Day?
PHCP: Do acknowledge the holiday and have something. Don’t wait until the last minute, and don’t understaff, especially the Saturday before the holiday. Again, just like New Year’s Eve, people who never come out all year long will show up to mark this occasion.
Don’t give a guest any reason to abandon you for someone else. Guests are smart, they will find another place steps from you having some kind of special or discount.
PP: What other advice or ideas do you have for owners and operators when throwing a promotion like this?
PHCP: Acknowledge couples who have been married more than seven years (or another pre-determined number) with a free dessert or appetizer. Do a promotion that the couple who has been married the longest gets dinner on you. Also, be the place to be for couples to get engaged on the most romantic night of the year: Reward guests who get engaged at your location by giving them a free bottle of Champagne.