2019 Restaurant Holiday Trends to Jump On

Trends are everywhere from fashion to food and can change at the drop of a hat, which means businesses must be flexible with what they promote. The holidays bring about a new set of trends and challenges to go along with that. Whether you plan to revamp your menu, deck out your restaurant Hallmark Movie-style, or haven’t had the time to think about the holidays, don’t worry — we’ve got you covered.

We’ve made a list (and checked it twice) of the predicted holiday trends so you can prepare your restaurant accordingly. And if you’re trying to decide whether you should remain open on the holidays, check out our previous post for some data insights from seasons past. 

Digital Ordering Upswing

Millennials’ habits have reshaped a lot of pieces of the restaurant industry, and holiday dining is on that list. In fact, millennials consume food in a restaurant or bar around 30% more often than any other generation. But when the weather turns cold, your dining room may not be overflowing with guests. 

Instead, we predict your carryout and delivery counter will be bustling. If you don’t yet have digital ordering capabilities, talk to your POS provider about the integration options they offer, or partner with GrubHub or UberEats directly. This will keep your phones from ringing off the hook all season long and, with the right POS system, you can even streamline digital orders directly to your kitchen without the added burden of a server manually ringing in the to-go items. 

Gift Card Surges

Gift card sales are one of the many traditional tactics for restaurants to guarantee repeat guests as well as benefit your diners, because who doesn’t love gift cards? A 2018 Prepaid Consumer Insights Study conducted by FirstData revealed that over 80% of consumers with a fine dining, fast casual, or drug store gift card spend more than the value of the card. 

Gift cards can be further used to entice guests by giving the purchaser a gift card for spending a certain amount, such as “Spend $100 on gift cards, receive a $20 credit for yourself!” Additionally, you can make these credits redeemable beginning January 1, ensuring your business will be booming after the holiday glitter has settled.

“Fall” for a New Menu

Use the seasonal specialties to your advantage by creating a menu that offers seasonal yet cost-effective produce. Apples, cranberries, and sweet potatoes are aplenty in November, while mushrooms, broccoli, and brussels sprouts are abundant in December. Offer unique recipes to showcase these items that your guests will flock to try. For further encouragement, offer a “naughty or nice” survey that allows diners to rate which items will return to your menu next year. 

Use your POS menu management functionality to update the menu at all locations from one terminal including your online ordering menu so that you can quickly 86 an item or stay competitive with the latest trends. 

Consider Dietary Needs

According to Toast’s 2019 Restaurant Success Report, 39% of diners have some kind of dietary restriction. That’s a pretty big audience to ignore, particularly when you consider groups selecting restaurants to accommodate their entire party. 

While you may not be able to accommodate every guest’s dietary needs, your dishes and seasonal offerings should have enough variety to be able to appeal to the majority of your guests. Consider providing gluten-free options as well as one or two vegetarian dishes. Allowing guests to make simple modifications, like substituting proteins or offering plenty of side options, can score you some major brownie points as well. 

Seasonal Stunts

November is when you should begin advertising your seasonal offerings to your guests. Get creative with your offerings—give family discounts, have “Turkey Tuesday” in which you offer a free meal to anyone dressed like a turkey, host a social media campaign to win a gift card for the best Thanksgiving recipes, or offer a drawing to win a Thanksgiving dinner for every full-priced meal purchase. 

During December, offer photos with Santa in your dining room, advertise an original 12 days of Christmas schedule, or create a give-back opportunity to a local homeless shelter through meal purchases. And don’t underestimate the impact of decorating your restaurant. Get crazy with lights and decorations to make your restaurant stand out, or go for a cozy ambiance that reminds your guests of their grandparents’ living room.

Lastly, create a New Year’s offering that sets your restaurant apart. Many bars and restaurants offer a free glass of Champagne to each New Year’s diner. What better year than 2020 to go beyond this ordinary staple with a throwback night? Host a party highlighting a different era and offer a prize for the most on-point dressers. Own multiple types of restaurants? Offer a shuttle to each location, ensuring a different theme for each establishment. Other ideas include offering free Uber vouchers or hosting a discounted “Recovery Brunch” on January 1 for patrons that celebrated the ball drop with you.  

It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like… Success

The holidays should be enjoyable for everyone, including you and your restaurant staff. By properly preparing for all the trends (and hardships) the season may include, you can give yourself the gift that keeps on giving — delighted guests that keep coming back, long into 2020.

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