Aburi attracts more dine-in guests during the pandemic using Bonus Points

How adding Bonus Points to their digital marketing strategy helped guests discover their restaurants

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Type of restaurant
Restaurant group

Locations
7 locations across
Vancouver and Toronto

Year founded
2008

178%

Increase in impressions in
top 10 spots

50%

of diners from Bonus Points
were first-timers

43%

Lower no-show rate from Bonus Points
than from phone reservations

When COVID-19 hit, Aburi Restaurants Canada—a pioneer of contemporary Aburi cuisine, a delicate fusion of traditional Japanese flame-searing married with French cuisine— pivoted to an off-premise model, offering new takeout and delivery options. But, they still wanted to retain guest confidence in their dine-in experience. To do so, they leveraged the OpenTable platform and used Bonus Points to become more discoverable and reach guests who were searching and ready to book dine-in options.

Maximizing use of the OpenTable platform

While they took a 360-approach to marketing before COVID-19, including a mix of traditional marketing, in restaurant, and digital and social media marketing, the pandemic encouraged them to try new digital marketing tactics to reach guests.

For Aburi, it was imperative to eliminate guest ambiguity on their dine-in service. They actively refreshed their restaurant profile to show guests all the ways they could engage, communicated their dine-in safety precautions, updated their availability as regulations shifted, and used OpenTable relationship management to stay connected with guests.

They also looked at OpenTable’s digital marketing capabilities and Bonus Points piqued their interest. “OpenTable is a platform we trust. It’s the go-to place for guests to discover new restaurants. With such an established brand known for its powerful diner network, we were very interested to learn about Bonus Points,” says Huy Tran, National Digital Marketing Manager.

Attracting dine-in guests through Bonus Points

While benefiting from OpenTable’s Open Door pricing relief program, it was an opportune time to test the waters and learn how Bonus Points could benefit their restaurants. Going in, they knew that Bonus Points would give them more exposure in OpenTable search while incentivizing guests with extra dining reward points to dine-in. But, they wanted to make sure that every guest who discovered and dined with them was fairly attributed.

As they learned more about its cost-per-acquisition pricing structure, they soon gained comfort knowing they’d only be charged for guests who discovered and booked because of the extra reward points offered. They also found the cost comparable to other digital programs. “The best thing about working with OpenTable and using Bonus Points is that we’re able to directly track diners who are seated from the campaign. There are no vanity metrics that we need to talk about or pay for with OpenTable because it’s all based on diners seated,” says Tran.

Based on their experience, they say the biggest benefit of Bonus Points is discovery. “Because OpenTable already has an established platform and customer base, we’re constantly able to market the Aburi brand to new dine-in customers,” says Tran. About a month into running Bonus Points, they were pleased to see that about half of the people who came in from the campaign were new customers.

Integration was also key. Because Bonus Points is a native digital marketing tool on the OpenTable platform, it’s married with their front of house. When their front of house team needs to fill tables for a specific hour of the day, down even to 15-minute increments, the campaign gives them the flexibility to customize for each restaurant location. They turned the campaign on during those times and offered guests extra dining reward points, which resulted in fuller tables across Aburi’s restaurants.

Staying discoverable and driving repeats

Since starting their Bonus Points campaigns, they’ve successfully brought in guests at times that were less popular. For early brunch and post-lunch rush, they’re now able to subsidize labour costs by bringing in more covers through the Bonus Points campaign. Best of all, they’re seeing these guests return. Beyond Bonus Points, Aburi has also been pleased with OpenTable’s overall support of their dine-in business. Tran says, “OpenTable is doing a lot of cool initiatives to drive guests to the platform and to increase discovery for our restaurants. We believe OpenTable is a strong brand and company to be doing business with.”

As they continue to blaze the trail for Aburi cuisine across Canada and introduce new capabilities, including Aburi at Home – a new online experience for guests to immerse themselves in the Aburi culinary experience through takeout and delivery – they say the most important thing is to care for their guests. Tran says, “We’re so proud to bring Aburi to Canada. But, paying the most attention to the experience for our guests and the quality of cuisine is what’s most important.”

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