How to Optimize Restaurant Websites for the Holidays
December 3, 2020
The website features and tools that help drive business this holiday season.
This December will be one of the busiest times of the year for restaurants, thanks in part to the rise in demand for online ordering, at-home meal kits, gift cards and special holiday catering packages. For restaurants, the website is more important than ever. Just as operators prepare their staff and kitchen for the holiday season, it’s a fine time to modify the website too. Here are the best restaurant website features and tools to drive business and maximize revenue this holiday season.
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Keep The Website Current
Under normal circumstances, updating the website during the high-paced holiday season might be the last thought on a restaurant’s to-do list. But now, as the website is the restaurant’s digital storefront, it’s the most important time — and way — to keep guests up to date with operations, holiday hours, holiday catering specials and other limited-time promotions. As COVID-19 cases continue to surge and cities impose further dining restrictions, guests are checking the website regularly for important information. The website should reflect all changes and updates accordingly. It’s especially important to emphasize how restaurants are responding to COVID-19 restrictions and what safety measures and guidelines are being implemented.
With BentoBox, scheduling website updates in advance is simple and intuitive. Operators can easily schedule any content to go up or down at a specific time through our scheduled posts feature. In other words, operators can create a special holiday menu to automatically come down after the holiday ends. This saves restaurant operators time, so they can focus on more important items to check off the list.
‘Tis the Restaurant Gift Card Giving Season
Gift cards are one of the best ways to boost sales over the holiday season. And many guests are looking for easy ways to help support their favorite restaurants while sharing a gift with a loved one. We know that selling gift cards online is an easy way to maximize their value—with just a few clicks, guests can buy a last-minute gift—any time, anywhere—without leaving the homepage.
Restaurants can offer guests both physical and digital gift cards more conveniently than ever. For restaurants already selling physical gift cards, there's no need to change how they currently issue or redeem them. BentoBox makes it easier for restaurants to sell them online, 24/7, and reap the gift-giving rewards. With digital gift cards, guests receive their gift cards through email, which can then be redeemed with a unique code on the BentoBox backend — making it easy for both guests and staff to manage.
Holiday Merchandise Made Easy
Ecommerce is a great way for restaurants to create a unique connection with guests while driving alternative revenue. Selling custom restaurant merchandise online is particularly advantageous over the holidays. From T-shirts and cookbooks to meal kits and gift baskets, guests can share a small piece of their favorite restaurant with their friends from the comfort of their own home. For example, Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow’s, The Meatball Shop offers up a litany of custom The Meatball Shop merch on their website, including the “Classic TMS Gift Package” for their die-hard fans, which features a “Blue Grinder Hat, Balls Shirt (please specify size in the 'note' section below), 1 Jar of TMS Classic Tomato Sauce, and a handwritten note from Chef Daniel Holzman wishing you or your loved one a happy holiday!”
A beautiful online store can be easily managed through the BentoBox platform, which allows operators to seamlessly mark each purchase as fulfilled as it ships out, add important notes for staff and export the order history.
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Bring The Restaurant To Guests’ Kitchens
Restaurants now have the ability to bring the hospitality experience into the homes of their guests. Michelin-starred restaurants like Eleven Madison Park and Manresa have incorporated at-home or to-go meal kits as a way to do just that. But it’s not just reserved for award-winning, chef-driven restaurants. Restaurants of all sizes, cuisines and operations are getting in on the action. Seamore’s is a great example of a neighborhood restaurant that offers the at-home experience online through their website. Their “Finish @ Home” program features meal kits with a mission — to bring sustainable seafood and cooking skills to the homes of their guests, while continuing to support local fishermen and fishmongers, especially as it becomes more difficult to find high-quality and fresh seafood with the closing of many restaurants due to COVID-19.
Seamore’s “Shuck Your Own Oysters Kit” features everything needed to shuck oysters together with friends and family this holiday season. Guests can order online for delivery or pickup by simply visiting and purchasing through their website.
Tickets For Virtual and On-Premise Events
People love to come together over the holiday season, meaning it’s the perfect time to host wine tastings, charity events, cocktail classes, and more. This year, restaurants can safely take it online — virtually. Special virtual events and classes are a surefire way to entice new guests and regulars by providing a special occasion for education and fun. Pondicheri promotes virtual classes like its “Virtual Baking Class: Holiday Sweets” through the website, where guests can purchase tickets directly online.
Not only can restaurants sell tickets to virtual holiday events straight from the website, it also allows operators to keep track of purchases and collect valuable information about attendees for remarketing purposes.
The Time is Here: Holiday Event Season
While December is historically the busiest month for private events, from corporate banquets to private buy-outs, restaurants must acknowledge strict COVID-19 guidelines and adjust their offerings accordingly. The key to success here is in making it easy for your guests to inquire, book and hold private events and catering requests as safely as possible — which means keeping events small and intimate. Restaurants can use their website to capture this demand through private events and/or catering pages — coupled with a guest inquiry form — which has been shown to increase private event inquiries by four times as much. Rich Table promotes “Group Dining / Family Style” on the Private Events section of the website. It quickly details important information for guests to know prior to inquiring about booking an event.
The website is one of the first places guests look for information on catering and private event offerings at a restaurant, so make sure the information is up-to-date and easy to find on the homepage. Restaurants can avoid the time-robbing back-and-forth of email or lengthy phone calls with BentoBox’s Events Management Tool. Our tool allows operators to save and manage event inquiries and profiles, build and send event contracts, and take deposits and payments with the click of a button.
As the end of year holidays are now upon us, it is more important than ever to ensure that the website is working 24/7, providing key information while promoting and converting visitors into paying customers. Want to learn more about any of these features and how they can work for your restaurant? Get in touch with a BentoBox specialist today or reach out to your account manager to learn more.
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