How a high-end restaurant group pivoted from traditional marketing to digital to achieve their goals during the pandemic
Type of restaurant
12 locations across
TX, CA, IL, DC, FL
Increase in total impressions on
OpenTable search in top 10 spots
Return on marketing
Truluck’s, a privately held restaurant group known for its commitment to serve the finest quality sustainable seafood, crab, and steaks across its 12 U.S. locations, needed to drive clientele to their newer restaurants. Over the past 28 years, they’ve relied on brand, traditional marketing, and strong word-of-mouth to fill seats. The pandemic forced them to close all of their restaurants, furlough staff, and operate on a shoestring budget. They had to figure out how to keep their newer locations alive, ramp up revenue at existing locations, and bring back staff. That’s when they decided to transition to digital marketing. Using OpenTable boost campaigns and Bonus Points as part of their digital marketing strategy, they saw sales jump by over $20K week-over-week and achieved a 32X marketing ROI.
To begin their climb back, the partners at Truluck’s evaluated what reopening their restaurants would look like. “To say that we shifted would be an understatement,” says Todd Perry, managing partner. Local regulations meant every location required a different approach.
At their newest restaurant in Rosemont near Chicago O’Hare airport, they relied on relationships with hotel owners and local businesses to bring in out-of-towners. But with reduced travel due to the pandemic, almost no banquet business, and little brand recognition in a new area, Truluck’s pivoted to digital marketing to reach a different audience: locals willing to drive 20-30 minutes to try a new restaurant.
They signed on to OpenTable’s Open Door pricing relief program and with their OpenTable marketing consultant, Perry and his partners started exploring digital marketing opportunities for Rosemont. “The idea of capturing diners searching on OpenTable who are interested in trying a new restaurant and who spend more was a compelling idea to us,” says Perry. “We’re a high-end dining experience, so it was important for us to welcome new clientele in the door who we could build lasting relationships with.”
Using boost campaigns and Bonus Points, Truluck’s increased their total impressions by over 11X in the top 10 spots on OpenTable search and introduced their Rosemont location to a new audience. “The marketing programs that OpenTable put together for us were something that quite frankly we had no idea would work in any way,” says Perry. “The eye-opening moment for us was when sales exceeded our weekly targets and cover counts jumped up by one-third from week to week. When we looked at the results the campaigns drove for our business, the actual cost-per-acquisition of the campaigns were much lower than they looked on the surface.”
For Perry, the ability to track the results of their efforts was key for testing a new marketing approach. “At OpenTable, the trackability trumps all. We can track every dollar spent and the return on our dollar in real time, which is something that traditional marketing and, to a certain extent, other digital marketing has not been able to provide us. That was paramount in our decision to try OpenTable marketing and keep our campaigns going. When we saw results, we were so happy, we high-fived. Not only were guests trying us for the first time, but they were coming back a second or third time.”
Control was also an important factor for Truluck’s. Perry and his team met with their OpenTable marketing consultant every other week to go over detailed reporting and easily adjusted their campaigns to improve results along the way. “The reporting that came with these campaigns was well beyond what we imagined it would be,” says Perry. Now, they look at their campaign reporting on OpenTable daily to inform their business planning and to help them stay aligned.
Given the success of their campaigns, they’ve extended their OpenTable marketing programs across their Truluck’s properties, which have over 20 years of brand recognition. “While we’re well-known, we see the value of the incremental diners OpenTable brings us and the difference in their marketing. We’ve done it all—TV, radio, direct mail, you name it, all the traditional marketing avenues. But, the ability to always tie back our cost-per-acquisition, track results in real time, and tie each reservation to the actual spend of the customer, makes all the difference,” says Perry.
When they look back at the challenges they’ve overcome to keep their business alive, there’s one thing that keeps them going: connecting with people. “From our team members and leadership to our guests and community, the ability to bring those connections back is what matters. Truluck’s has always been people first,” says Perry. “Making good things happen for other people is what it’s all about.”
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