Customer Success Resources

How to Use TouchBistro Reservations to Increase Bookings & Promote Your Valentine’s Day Restaurant Specials

By Megan Lee

Interior of a restaurant called Tango Nuevo.

Choosing restaurants for Valentine’s Day celebrations seems to be the way to go for the majority of people out there. According to a recent Popmenu study, “most adults (85%) plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day, and of those celebrating, 74% expect to dine out or order takeout/delivery from restaurants.” As a restaurant operator, it’s imperative that you take advantage of this lucrative opportunity to boost your own sales this Valentine’s Day. However, as with any popular and busy holiday, this focus on sales needs to be balanced with proper planning and staff preparation, which includes organizing your bookings and flow of service. 

So, how can you ease the preparation process, manage tables for the big day, and promote your Valentine’s Day restaurant specials? The answer: TouchBistro Reservations.

To help you celebrate Valentine’s Day at your restaurant, while also delivering an exceptional experience for your guests, we’ll walk you through: 

  • What TouchBistro Reservations is
  • 7 ways TouchBistro Reservations software helps restaurants manage Valentine’s Day
  • Marketing tips for your Valentine’s Day restaurant specials

If you’re already using TouchBistro Reservations at your restaurant, you can continue reading. 

However, if you’re looking to get your restaurant set up with TouchBistro Reservations, please feel free to get in touch with us and we’ll help you get started.

What is TouchBistro Reservations?

TouchBistro Reservations is a POS-integrated reservations management system that’s fully equipped with all the tools needed to maximize revenue, deliver a great guest experience, and optimize service. Our reservations management system is specially designed to help restaurant operators simplify bookings and improve the flow of service, especially during busy holidays like Valentine’s Day. 

Exterior of Tango Nuevo restaurant decked out with Christmas decor.

Introducing Tango Nuevo

To better illustrate how real restaurateurs are using TouchBistro Reservations to manage their Valentine’s Day reservations and execute their promotions successfully, we sat down with Pamela Furter, Manager of Tango Nuevo, to get an operator’s perspective.

Tango Nuevo is a fusion tapas restaurant, located in Kingston, Ontario, that serves guests an array of impeccable food paired with exceptional customer service. Equipped with TouchBistro Reservations, Tango Nuevo has successfully streamlined its flow of service and optimized booking management. Tango Nuevo also has two sister restaurants, Bar Mayla and Le Jardin, which are also powered through TouchBistro Reservations. 

7 Ways TouchBistro Reservation Software Helps Restaurants Manage Valentine’s Day

Restaurant reservation systems likeTouchBistro Reservations are specifically designed to help operators like Pamela successfully navigate busy holidays. 

Let’s explore the seven ways TouchBistro Reservations’ can help your staff manage the flow of service, increase bookings, and improve the guest experience this Valentine’s Day.

1. Set up an Exceptional Schedule

An exceptional schedule is when you change the reservation schedule and availability for a specific time period, such as a busy holiday, in this case Valentine’s Day. Using the exceptional schedule feature through TouchBistro Reservations allows you to limit online bookings or add more tables for that day. You can also choose to lock table groups and prevent them from being reserved. This feature is especially valuable for Valentine’s Day because most bookings will only be for two guests. 

On top of setting up an exceptional schedule, another way of keeping the flow of service moving smoothly on Valentine’s Day is adjusting your reservations intervals (time slots) by setting up dedicated seating times. For example, you can seat those interested in dining with you on Valentine’s Day at 5 p.m., 7 p.m., and 9:00 p.m. You also have the option to adjust those turn times, depending on how many guests are dining together at each table. Pamela mentions, Tango Nuevo has a “two-hour seating limit,” for Valentine’s Day. This way couples can enjoy their meal without feeling rushed. You can follow Tango Nuevo’s lead and offer the same seating limit to your own guests!

2. Extensive Reporting Capabilities

Scheduling is definitely important to consider. However, customer data can play an equally critical role in how successful your restaurant will be this Valentine’s Day. With TouchBistro Reservations, restaurateurs have access to comprehensive reporting on past and current reservations made at your restaurant. And with this information, you can identify any trends, plan ahead, and strategize your marketing efforts accordingly.

Take Tango Nuevo as an example. “I use the reports to see [the number of] no-shows and to see the people that book a lot, so we can mark them as VIP,” says Pamela. “This way, the staff at Tango Nuevo can go above and beyond on the day of the VIP guests’ booking.”

So what else can you do with your extensive reservations data and reports? One pro marketing tip is to extract a list of customers who visited your venue last year for Valentine’s Day, and then input those customer’s emails into an email marketing platform to send them information about this year’s promotions and Valentine’s Day restaurant specials. These reminders can encourage your past customers to return again this year, and maybe even make your restaurant their annual Valentine’s Day destination.  

3. Reservations Notes

One easy way to deliver exceptional service even before guests set foot into your restaurant is to use the notes feature available through TouchBistro Reservations. 

The reservations notes feature allows restaurateurs to add a public-facing note to customers about how service will change for Valentine’s Day, such as the serving of a prix fixe menu instead of the usual offerings. Guests can also use this feature when booking a table to indicate whether they are planning to celebrate an anniversary or birthday, so that staff can plan accordingly. 

Ahead of Valentine’s Day, Tango Nuevo uses the reservations notes feature to indicate all sorts of messages applicable to that day. a reservation. As Pamela explains, “if someone tries to book a reservation for Valentine’s Day, they get a note that says we’re only serving a set menu.” Tango Nuevo also uses this feature to recommend a seating time of an hour and a half for tables of two or three, while two or more hours for a table of six or more. 

Beautifully plated spicy chocolate lava cake from Tango Nuevo.

4. Two-Way SMS and Email Communication

With reservations notes, you’re able to see how important communicating key information is to your guests. Every relationship work must have top-notch communication between both parties, even between guests and restaurant management or staff, for it to work.

To further enhance that communication, TouchBistro Reservations allows restaurateurs to communicate with their guests before they even reach your dining room. By using two-way SMS and email communication capabilities to send guests reminders and confirmation messages, you give them the opportunity to confirm, modify, or even cancel their reservations for Valentine’s Day if necessary. This way, as a restaurant operator, you’ll ensure your guests are serious about dining with you and look forward to dining at your venue, ultimately reducing no-shows.  

On busy holidays like Valentine’s Day, you want to ensure your guests show up to their booked reservation, so you avoid losing potential revenue at the last minute – something that’s especially important for small restaurants like Tango Nuevo. 

Tango Nuevo combats no-shows by using the SMS and email feature to effectively communicate with guests well in advance of their booking. “A message is sent to the guest through the texting option to reiterate the set menu, cost, and any other valuable information. Most of the time, the guest texts us back, otherwise, we can give them a call.” Pamela explains. And as a result, by communicating with people ahead of their reservation, Pamela can figure out who is committed to dining at Tango Nuevo’s, ultimately preventing no-shows and minimizing last-minute cancellations. 

5. Reduce No-Shows

On the topic of no-shows, an important feature available to restaurateurs through TouchBistro Reservations is the option to ask people to provide a credit card when booking online. This way, if guests fail to show up for a confirmed reservation, you can charge their credit card the day after to recoup some of the costs of that no-show table. 

Adding a credit card to the reservation can serve as a “financial safety net” for restaurant operators that hold tables for a reservation that doesn’t show up. Tango Nuevo takes advantage of this feature by taking credit card information when guests book a reservation for five or more people around the holidays, and charging a small no-show fee if needed. By taking credit card information, Pamela explains, “That shows commitment [on the guest’s part], so that’s super handy.”

6. Notes Section for Staff

As mentioned, two-way communication between guests and restaurant staff or management is important. However, what’s equally important is the effectiveness of that communication between staff and management. This is critical to master this to ensure everyone is putting their best foot forward on such a potentially profitable day.

WithTouchBistro Reservations, there is a feature that allows restaurant management to leave important service notes for staff members. Let’s say you have some restrictions for dining service on Valentine’s Day. With this capability, you can leave notes about any changes to the menu, seating limitations, etc. 

The notes feature can be beneficial when guests try to call at the last minute to book a reservation. As a result, your team is equipped to answer any questions regarding change of service, specifically for Valentine’s Day, without you, the manager or operator, having to be present.

7. Turn Off Digital Wait-list

The digital waitlist feature on TouchBistro Reservations can be the ultimate game-changer for you and your guests, and it’s right at your fingertips. Diners can easily add themselves to a digital waitlist from anywhere, and receive real-time updates whether their table is ready or not, and plan accordingly.

While our digital waitlist feature can help streamline efficiency with the flow of service in your restaurant on most days, it can be a good idea to turn it off for Valentine’s Day. This is because it’s a common practice that most guests will have booked well in advance for a holiday that typically has restaurants’ dining rooms filled for the evening. The goal is to avoid disrupting the flow of service as much as possible to ensure your staff deliver a top-notch dining experience for Valentine’s Day (and achieving that goal means reducing walk-ins).

Valentine’s Day Restaurant Specials Marketing Tips

Now that you know how TouchBistro Reservations can be your partner this Valentine’s Day, let’s walk through some additional tips to help you prepare to celebrate with your guests and promote your Valentine’s Day restaurant specials.

Encourage People to Book Online and Early

The first tip when it comes to any holiday, especially when you’re planning your Valentine’s Day restaurant promotions, is that earlier is always better. Making tables available for guests to book well in advance of the big day allows you to plan ahead and gives you ample time to staff your restaurant accordingly.

Pamela shared with us that Tango Nuevo usually starts preparing its Valentine’s Day marketing ideas in November and December, but goes full speed ahead after the New Year. This shows that promoting early can be the key to filling your dining room early for Valentine’s Day!

Run Limited Time Valentine’s Day Promotions

There is no point of promoting your Valentine’s Day early if your restaurant isn’t offering anything special, or anything that will give you an edge over your competitors down the street. Valentine’s Day is a very special day for couples who plan on celebrating and if those couples choose to celebrate this special day at your restaurant, the least you and your staff can do is offer exciting limited time promotions. Offering a special prix fixe menu and sharing it online when people book their reservations for your restaurant can be one of the best Valentine’s Day restaurant ideas to help your restaurant stand out.

Tango Nuevo and its sister restaurants, for example, offer a special menu for Valentine’s Day. “Every year we do a set menu for Valentine’s Day, so we don’t offer a regular menu, but it’s similar to our normal offering. We will do something just a little more special,” says Pamela. As a result, guests who have visited before know exactly what to expect, and the bar is set high for the evening.

Promote Your Offerings on Social Media

Pamela suggests that “people need to get out on social media sooner than later.” Instagram and TikTok are just a few social media platforms that you can use to share with people what to expect if they choose to make reservations for Valentine’s Day at your restaurant, whether it’s a special chef’s tasting menu or a live music event. 

Beautifully plated scallops dish from  Tango Nuevo.

Extend Your Valentine’s Day Offering

Lastly, capitalize on your Valentine’s Day extending your offerings as much as possible. For instance, one of the many Valentine’s Day restaurant ideas you can use is by offering special seatings both before and after February 14th. This can allow people who may be working or simply not available on the 14th to enjoy what your restaurant plans on offering. For example, celebrating “Galentine’s Day” has become widespread in recent years, which can make it the perfect opportunity to extend your Valentine’s Day restaurant special ideas to another day. More people can take advantage of your special offering by extending it to women to celebrate with their friends.

With these Valentine’s Day restaurant ideas and equipped with TouchBistro Reservations, you can tackle this lucrative holiday at your restaurant, like just Tango Nuevo does. As Pamela puts it, “a hundred percent TouchBistro Reservations helps us maximize busy holidays. If you look at the majority of our reservations, anyone that [is] booked online comes up with a green symbol, and anyone that calls in their reservations is in blue, and you can see it’s 99% green, so people are definitely booking online.” 

Equipped with TouchBistro Reservations, Tango Nuevo continues to fill its dining room with happy guests and increase online bookings. You can join restaurants like Tango Nuevo and benefit from using TouchBistro Reservations to increase bookings and promote your Valentine’s Day restaurant special ideas this February 14th. And if you’re not already set up with our reservations platform, and looking to save time and money, book a demo today!

by Megan Lee

Megan is the Content Marketing Specialist at TouchBistro, where she uses her passion for food to write about the restaurant industry. She’s a big “foodie” at heart, and you can always find her enjoying a delicious meal at a restaurant with friends and family, or cooking one up at home. She also loves relaxing with a good book and making progress at the gym.

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