With COVID-19 restrictions having kept large parts of Australia locked down for Mother’s Day in 2020, many families are looking to make up for lost time this year. And with Australians traditionally spending around $78 each on their mums according to research by IBISWorld, this year’s Mother’s Day celebrations could be a boon for the nation’s hard-hit restaurants.
But that doesn’t mean you can sit back and expect the guests to come rolling in. We don’t have to tell you that there’s a lot of competition out there. Many restaurants will up the ante for Mother’s Day, but standing out from other venues on the day doesn’t necessarily require fireworks.
Craig Macindoe from hospitality marketing agency Darling Crackles appeared in an OpenTable webinar to discuss how restaurant owners can take advantage of current and developing marketing opportunities last year. We spoke to him again to find out how he helps his clients get the most out of Mother’s Day.
Macindoe says finding success on Mother’s Day is more about knowing your venue and identifying how you can bring value to mum.
“Mother’s Day has to feel special for mum, so restaurants should craft their message around what you are doing in your venue to make it feel like the guest will be spoiling their mum,” he says. “That might be a focus on indulgent desserts, or perhaps it’s a roaming photographer taking family photos on the day.”
Macindoe explains that the take-away point is that if you’re going to be marketing your Mother’s Day offering, you need a specific Mother’s Day experience to highlight. It can’t just be business as usual.
Know your value
Of course, some venues are more naturally suited to providing Mother’s Day experiences than others.
“Obviously high-end, waterfront restaurants don’t have to work as hard as more casual mid-market and budget-friendly venues to attract Mother’s Day diners,” Macindoe explains. “For those restaurants, the value is in the view, and that should be the focus of your Mother’s Day marketing content. It should be all about mum’s experience — not just what you can do on the plate.”
But if you run a more casual restaurant that isn’t a natural fit for Mother’s Day, Macindoe says there’s still plenty you can do to attract the Mother’s Day crowd.
“A casual, mid-market venue, for example, might be a great place for large bookings with lots of kids. So that’s the message you want to run with. Use photos of happy families enjoying the venue, and add a Mother’s Day twist with things like Champagne for mum on arrival and a bunch of flowers when she leaves.”
Go early, then follow up
When it comes to rolling out your Mother’s Day marketing, Macindoe says it’s the early bird that gets the worm. He explains that it’s important to have all your marketing content prepared and ready to go by April, then launch your campaign just after the April school holidays.
However, a one-off social media post or email isn’t quite going to get the job done. Macindoe says it’s vital to follow up with a second communication immediately before the day.
“It’s a horrible generalisation, but remember that it’s most likely going to be male partners and adult sons and daughters doing the booking, and that means a last-minute rush,” he explains.
“The first contact is to put your venue in their mind for Mother’s Day. It’s the second contact in the week leading up to Mother’s Day that will secure the booking.”
OpenTable 2019 data shows that guests made Mother’s Day bookings 9.5 days in advance on average. That’s the average, which means people are booking well before up to the day before—make sure you show up when they’re ready to book.
Set a pricing strategy
While Macindoe advises against offering Mother’s Day discounts — nobody wants to make mum feel like she’s not worth full price — he says it is important to consider how you’ll run your pricing strategy.
Most restaurants that get their marketing right will be full on Mother’s Day, so the question becomes how do you turn a full house into the most money in the bank.
“There are really two main options,” says Macindoe. “You can either do one seating at a premium price point, or do a number of seatings.”
Deciding on which pricing strategy to go with comes back to identifying the best fit for your particular venue and audience.
High-end restaurants that are all about indulgence will likely do better with a premium single seating. The more casual restaurant that is focusing on fun, happy group experiences will probably be more successful with multiple seatings at a more reasonable price point.
Maximising social media
When it comes to getting your Mother’s Day message out to your potential guests Macindoe says most restaurants will lean heavily on social media and email marketing. But there are some pitfalls to keep in mind.
“Unless you have thousands and thousands of followers, social media is pay to play,” he explains. “Unpaid posts are generally only seen by about three per cent of your total following, so that’s not many people unless you have a huge following.”
Macindoe says paid posts tend to be much more effective, but warns against splashing out a lot of cash if you don’t know what you’re doing.
“You really need to monitor your reach and return on investment to make sure the campaign is on the right track,” he says. “OpenTable has a great feature you can use to track your paid social media campaigns.”
Effective email campaigns
If you’ve worked hard to build an email database, Macindoe says email is by far the most cost-effective tool in your digital marketing kit.
“Paid social media is super powerful, but you need to run it for a number of weeks. In terms of creating a message and actually selling bookings, email marketing is number-one. It gets the best return of any form of marketing.”
OpenTable can help here too. Integrate OpenTable with your email marketing software to use guest insights to power relevant, targeted engagement that is more personalised and will make a better connection with your potential guests. OpenTable can also help you connect with the right guest at the right time through custom automated emails to guests.
Whether you’re crafting an EDM (electronic direct mail) for your email marketing campaign or thinking up your next paid social media post, Macindoe says it pays to focus all your communications around the Mother’s Day experience.
“Remember, you’re not just selling food and beverage on Mother’s Day. You’re selling an experience for mum.”