Right alongside candy and flowers, one of the main expenses of consumers celebrating Valentine’s Day is eating at restaurants. Everything from classic chains to elegant, one-of-a-kind local restaurants brace every year for the holiday. There is much to be done in preparation for Valentine’s Day feasting.

How Consumers Spend on Valentine’s Day

In 2018, it was estimated the average American consumer would spend $143.56 on Valentine’s Day, according to Forbes. The most significant spending would be on significant others, while children, pets, friends, etc., might receive a little bit of the love.

This year, experts estimate Americans will spend even more on the holiday. Ranked in order, the things consumers spend on to celebrate will likely include:

  • Candy
  • Greeting cards
  • Evening out
  • Flowers
  • Jewelry

Given that $3.5 billion is estimated to be spent on an evening out to celebrate Valentine’s Day, according to The Balance, it’s no surprise that restaurants gear up for the holiday.

Numbers That Help Restaurants Prepare

As with any one-day event, restaurants have to make preparations based on what will offer the best return on investment (ROI.) Scheduling too many extra staff or creating a special menu that requires expensive ingredients which might not get used will lead to a negative ROI. The numbers suggest:

  • The average cost of a Valentine’s Dinner in 2017 was $286.56.
  • Valentine’s Day gives an average of 18% sales increase to restaurants and bars, making it the sixth best holiday for the industry, according to Womply.

What Valentine’s Day Preparations Look Like in the Industry

Everything from a restaurant’s look, menu, staffing, and prices can require extra preparation when it comes to Valentine’s Day. Consolidated Food Sources says that typical advice for those in the restaurant industry includes basic tips like to decorate, add chocolate dishes to the menu, get creative, and promote ahead of time. Pushing Valentine’s gift cards is also common advice, since this is the favorite gift on average of men celebrating the holiday.

For restaurant managers, communicating about the special elements of Valentine’s Day to patrons in advance is especially important. Encouraging reservations through advertising, for example, serves multiple important purposes. Reservations prevent patrons from long wait times that may negatively affect business. At the same time, reservations help manager estimate the quantity of staff, food, etc., needed for the event.

How Technology Can Improve Valentine’s Day for Restaurants

As technology changes, restaurateurs should expect to adapt if business is to increase on Valentine’s Day. Many people considering where to make reservations (or even just where to go in the spur of the moment) will check map apps for restaurant hours and reviews.

Restaurants should prepare ahead of time by encouraging positive reviews and submitting special event hours to map apps like Google Maps. Since it is also common for patrons to select restaurants (especially for special holidays) using review apps, restaurants should also be sure to have updated info on OpenTable, Resy, or similar apps.

In the restaurant itself, technology like CAKE’s Guest Manager and OrderPads can increase sales by improving efficiency and reducing wait times. CAKE reports that full service restaurants using two or more OrderPads gained a 74 percent increase in average transactions. It is best for restaurants to make changes like these ahead of time so that staff are prepared to offer efficient, enjoyable experiences to patrons on the big day.

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