By Danilo Mangano, Managing Director, International at SevenRooms (www.sevenrooms.com)

With warmer weather and an extended bank holiday fast approaching, UK restaurants should be preparing for their busiest period yet. In order to take full advantage of this time, it’s important to plan ahead and consider how takings can be maximised. From taking control of guest data to levelling up marketing strategies, there are various steps restaurants can take to ensure that they keep patrons happy and profit margins high this summer.

Utilising guest data
As restaurants prepare to welcome a rush of patrons, it is vital to ensure that operations are running smoothly. Technology and data have an important role to play in this. Understanding and catering to the unique preferences of customers helps forge deeper relationships with guests while boosting customer loyalty. For those wanting to stay ahead of the curve and anticipate diners’ wants and needs, unlocking and utilising guest data is a necessity.

Operators should take full advantage of technology to gain better insight into customer preferences. Collecting and leveraging more customer information is essential, and drawing upon your own experiences and interactions is a great place to start. In every establishment, staff have a wealth of knowledge about their regulars, from their favourite items on the menu to how they prefer to be served. Getting to know more customers on that level is possible with the help of technology.

For example, using SevenRooms, staff can create a profile for each guest and easily ‘tag’ important information like allergies, wine preferences, or birthdays. Utilising this information can help you develop the best offerings for your guests while leveraging marketing automation to get more guests through your doors during the summer period and into the autumn months. This could include targeting rosé wine drinkers for summer ‘Wine Wednesday’ specials, or shellfish eaters for ‘Oyster Happy Hours’ at your venue. If marketed correctly, operators can benefit from increased sales on a long-term basis.

Level up your marketing strategies
Implementing automated marketing allows restaurants to market smarter, not harder. Setting up targeted email campaigns with a restaurant marketing automation tool like SevenRooms enables restaurants to reach out to the right customers, at the right time, with the right offer. For example, configuring your platform to send “we miss you” offers to guests one month after they last dined with you can help put your establishment at front-of-mind for customers who are looking to eat out with friends, family or colleagues this summer.

Integrating guest data into your marketing can help operators coordinate outreach in accordance with guests’ preferences. In the same way, making the most of this data will allow you to target the right audience for your offerings; if you’re planning a summer vegan menu, for example, reach out to guests who have a vegan tag in their guest profiles to let them be the first to reserve tables.

Planning ahead for special events will also encourage guests to gather and celebrate at your restaurant. Inviting couples to celebrate their anniversary with you is an easy way to maximising bookings. Send any diners with an anniversary that month an email a few weeks before the big day to let them know you’re thinking of them, and offering a complimentary champagne toast upon arrival, enticing them back to your establishment. You can also apply this strategy to national events taking place during summer, such as Father’s Day. Whether you’re creating a ticketed, prix-fixe meal to mark the occasion, or developing an entire marketing campaign around the day, promoting it via email and social media is a great way to encourage families to dine and celebrate with you.

Convert third-party guests to direct guests

In addition to focusing on owned marketing channels, making an active effort to bring guests back directly will increase engagement and loyalty in the long-term. Influence guests to book through your website by explaining the benefits of booking directly with you. Implementing direct delivery can also help you distinguish your brand and drive loyalty with the ability to add surprise and delights into takeaway bags based on a customer’s unique order history with your brand. Plus, don’t forget to create special offers for customers ordering a bank holiday takeaway, like 10% off their next delivery bill, to encourage them to place an order directly through your website next time around.

The summer months are a huge opportunity for restaurants to maximise revenue. This busy period should be about more than just opening your doors and welcoming the increase in covers. Taking control of customer data and creating personalised marketing strategies can help build stronger relationship with guests, ensuring that takings are maximised over the summer months and standing you in good stead for the rest of the year.