Offering experiences or meals for discount rates can be an effective part of a well-researched marketing plan, says Nikki Gibson
While the deal industry may be maturing, with key offer providers consolidating or exiting the market entirely, the appetite and spending power of customers searching out value continues to rise.
For those responsible for growing revenues and tasked with profiling their venue to new guests, promotions can act as an important part of a rounded marketing plan. When delivered correctly, ‘deal' doesn't need to be a dirty word.
10 ways to structure a deal
1 Zero in on your target audience
The quality of guest you're trying to acquire must be front of mind. Gaining an affluent local is an attractive prospect from both a revenue and repeat-custom standpoint. Delve into the deal provider's demographics and geo-targeting capabilities before selecting a partner.
2 Consider the calendar
Plan ahead and design a promotion to stimulate demand for specific need periods in your reservations diary, whether they be softer times during the week or distinct seasonal slumps. Don't displace full-paying custom at your busiest times.
3 Strategic deal structure
Deal structure is paramount. Build value with low-cost yet desirable items, such as a welcome drink or room upgrade, while leaving opportunities for your experienced team to upsell. Deep discounts are not always necessary, and added-value carries weight. Build in luxury upgrade options. Your chosen deal partner should be able to advise you.
4 Work the numbers
Ensure your deal makes financial sense by sense-checking margins on the advertised package. Additional spend builds your revenue stream, so carefully track it throughout the campaign. Sue Jones from the Michelin-starred Harrow at Little Bedwyn found that guests spent 80% of a voucher price again, enjoying a "matched flight of wines, extra cheese courses and coffee".
5 Welcome groups
Build in an upsell for larger parties at a slightly incentivised rate, as groups typically spend more on drinks. Do you have a private dining area or chef's table which goes unused at quieter times? Offer a package to fill it.
6 Retain a mix of marketing
Special offers blend nicely into a varied marketing mix, complementing, but not replacing, traditional channels. Tactical, targeted deals should supplement your existing custom to provide truly incremental business.
7 Data is key
It's surprising how few businesses take the time to collect email addresses from the new customers they gain from running a deal. Make the effort and build your own marketing database. Direct bounce-back offers are a great way of retaining your new guests.
8 It's a gift
Utilise key gifting periods when consumers spend generously on their loved ones. A Travelzoo survey found that 53% would rather gift a memorable experience than a traditional present, with a third of people buying dining experiences. Consider running a promotion over Christmas, for redemption through January to March, for example.
9 Showcase your wares
Working with a deal provider allows you to showcase your business to a large number of potential customers. Shout about awards and great reviews. Famed for your tasting menu? Launching afternoon tea? Consider announcing it to a high-quality closed user group via a time-limited special offer.
10 Embrace your new guests
Together with your deal partner, you've done the hard work of attracting top-quality new guests, so make sure they have such a great experience they can't wait to return. We've heard horror stories of deal customers being treated like second-class citizens. Instead, embrace your new guest. From the point of designing the deal, to when your customers leave your venue, think about how you can put your best foot forward.
Nikki Gibson, head of local and entertainment, Travelzoo