Restaurateurs can turn their competitors green with envy by taking advantage of St. Patrick’s Day parades and promotions to excite their customers and welcome spring.
St. Patrick’s Day has great potential for increasing revenue for many days before and after the holiday. Restaurateurs and bar owners can do many things beyond offering green beer and Irish Coffee to market the holiday, increase revenue, attract new customers and get regular customers excited.
Choosing a Promotional Angle
Getting the most mileage for a St. Patrick’s Day event depends on the restaurant’s type of customers. Most people plan to visit a bar or restaurant on the holiday. Since the holiday is on a Tuesday, some restaurants promote the drinking and celebrating aspects on the previous weekend.
Restaurateurs get more mileage from the holiday by holding promotions from Friday evening until Tuesday. Lots of cities schedule their parades on Saturday the 14th. Restaurants can offer Irish dishes, special menus and Irish bar favorites for an extended period.
The following five ideas offer some insights into what makes a successful St. Patrick’s Day promotion:
- Special Irish Menu
Offer special Irish foods. Corned beef and cabbage are traditional, and restaurants can serve a boiled dinner of corned beef with cabbage, onions, celery and baby carrots. Provide Irish soda bread, or serve potato soup. Bars can offer special selections of Irish beers and signature “Irish Coffee” beverages.
- St. Patrick’s Day Scavenger Hunt
Restaurants can host a search for a pot of gold by providing clues or tasks that customers must complete prior to the holiday and get more mileage from the promotion. This type of event can generate a lot of Internet publicity through the social media.
- Crank-up Rowdy Celebrations
St. Patrick’s Day is known for drinking and partying, so restaurants and bars can hire rock bands or even feature Celtic music for several days prior to the event to generate interest. Upscale and cerebral establishments might consider hosting a moody Irish poetry night with poetry readings. Other ideas include open mike nights, karaoke and similar kinds of entertainment with an Irish theme.
- Offer Special Services
St. Patrick’s Day often results in people become too intoxicated to drive. Restaurants can sponsor events like free meals for designated drivers and free services to arrange rides for people under the influence. Urban restaurants might partner with a nearby hotel to create a St. Patrick’s Day weekend getaway. Restaurants can tap into social networking by hosting contests and posting photos of costumes or foods. Family-oriented restaurants can offer readings of Irish fairy tales and arrange an in-house photographer or artist to capture the fun and excitement of the event.
- Host a Community Party
Restaurants can also engage their business neighbors to host a community party for the holiday with music, entertainment, Irish food and an outdoor “green beer” garden. Block parties can engage new customers for the restaurant who get exposed to the restaurant’s brand and cuisine.
Decorating and Promoting
Restaurants and bars can decorate in various styles, but simple cutouts and green decorations usually suffice for people who often celebrate by overindulging in parades, dressing up and enjoying alcoholic beverages.
Crowds pouring in from a parade won’t notice subtleties, but upscale diners might appreciate traditional green shamrocks or green centerpieces on each table.
Another idea is to add just a few green accents strategically that regulars will notice and appreciate. Green tablecloths or linen napkins also add just the right touch for classier restaurants.
Decorations include lots of green and gold, and sustainable restaurants can bring in some live greenery to enliven the atmosphere.
The more festive your interior, the more likely it is that groups will take photos, hastag, and geotag your location – this means free user-generated advertising!
Traditional St. Patrick’s Day decorations don’t need to be expensive and can include:
- Green frostings and toppings on cakes and pastries
- Leprechauns, wee folk, shamrocks, pots of gold and rainbows
- Green-glowing necklaces, light-sticks and beer-mug blinkies
- Green leis, magic hats and shamrock beads
- Green carnations for the staff
- Gold and green balloons
- Special green-decorated menus or inserts
St. Patrick’s Day advertising is easy when restaurants have mailing lists for emails. Restaurants can promote their events through local media outlets, contact the people who sponsor the local St. Paddy’s parade or advertise in local newspapers, magazines and radio and television outlets.
Other marketing ideas include digital signage, posters, press releases, the restaurant’s website and social media networks. Remember that many celebrants will be consulting their smartphones after parades, parties, and events to find the perfect place to dine.
Preparing for the Big Day
Try to offer something special that makes the restaurant’s promotion different and more appealing than what every other restaurant is doing. Ideas might include having a door prize, sponsoring a costume contest, providing entertainment or ensuring a safe place to party.
Party goers tend to overdo on this holiday, so offer cab rides home or extra security to prevent physical altercations and injuries. Make sure to prepare staff for dealing with rowdier customers, and hold a refresher course in the restaurant’s or bar’s security procedures for handling unruly customers. Celebrating the holiday with fun activities in a safe environment will generate the maximum promotional value.