Grab engagement and appetites: 4 creative restaurant contest ideas

Add some fun and flavor to your marketing strategy with these social media contest ideas to boost customer engagement and sales

TableCheck

TableCheck

Mar 29, 2022 - 3 min read

Grab engagement and appetites: 4 creative restaurant contest ideas

In recent years, contest marketing has become an exceptional marketing strategy for businesses that are seeking to attract high levels of customer engagement and build their restaurant brand. On average over 34% of new customers are gained through contests alone, and thus, more and more businesses are beginning to host contests and giveaways as a means to spread brand awareness quickly and efficiently. 

Businesses, including restaurants, can now easily host contests and giveaways on social media, which has proven to be extremely effective for its timely and more interactive nature. In fact, research has shown that, on average, Instagram contest posts receive 64 times as many comments than a regular Instagram post and accounts that hold contests and giveaways are likely to increase their followers 70% faster than those that don't.

However, contests and giveaways can risk becoming repetitive and generic, often with the same entry methods and the same rewards.

Stand out from the crowd and raise the bar with these four creative and original contest ideas to maximize customer engagement.

Contest ideas on mobile

1. Suggest a collaboration

Collaborations and partnerships between businesses can generate a lot of buzz and attention since it allows both businesses to reach newer and wider ranges of audiences. This applies to partnered contests as well, with Instagram contests that are jointly held between collaborators having a 79% higher engagement on average in comparison to solo contests.

Feature guest chefs, sommeliers, and experts to host a conjoined contest giveaway, such as special collaborative project on your restaurant. Customers can also suggest collaborators as a way to enter the contest. This way, the dream team that everyone wants to see can come together, raising customer satisfaction in addition to engagement.

Tip: If you are running a contest on social media, don't forget to integrate a 'Book now button' on these social platforms to entice these participants to your restaurant. TableCheck integrates with both Facebook, Instagram and Reserve with Google. Find out more here.

Sample menu

2. Name the menu

Ask customers to send in an original name of their own for the next new dish on the menu as another more interactive, creative contest idea. This is a great way to get people’s brains and appetites going, not to mention the comment section as well. For maximum engagement, promise to pick the name with the highest amount of likes. This will encourage customers to spread the word about the contest and their entries, and though it might not guarantee full satisfaction for the name on the restaurant’s part, it will definitely guarantee increased exposure. 

As a reward, offer winners the chance to try the new dish before anyone else. An exclusive sneak peek into the restaurant’s new endeavor will be sure to get everyone’s creative juices flowing. Besides, who wouldn’t want to brag about having been involved in the production of a restaurant menu? 

Champagne

3. Decorate the restaurant

Perhaps the restaurant is in need of a quick revamp or a slight change of mood. If in search of new decor or table settings, look no further than the comment section, and turn that search into a quick little contest. Ask customers to suggest their favorite artists, small businesses, or local brands that they think will become excellent additions to the restaurant. Boost customer engagement by involving customers directly in the creation of their dining space and make the dining experience more personal and intimate. 

Winners can be given their own set of recommended table settings, whether that be plates, cutlery, glasses, or salt and pepper shakers. This is an alternative giveaway idea to the usual dining invitation gifts that can attract customers to the restaurant in a fresh and original way. 

Tip: Incorporate contests in your booking forms to get as much participants as possible. TableCheck allows restaurants to create branded booking forms to make their brand stand out right from the very start of their guest journey. Find out more here.

Selfie

4. Classic photo contest with a twist

Last but not least, photo contests are a classic but foolproof way to attract customer engagement. To change things up a bit, give customers a different theme for their photo contest each time, for example, seasonal themes such as Christmas and Valentine’s day. Not all photo contests have to be related to the restaurant; asking customers to share their own personal stories and lifestyles is also an excellent way to engage with your audiences. Not only that, photo contests also create user-generated content that can be used for social media as well as word of mouth marketing that will help spread brand awareness. 

Similarly, vary the rewards per prompt to keep the contests interesting, such as food and/or drink coupons, free meal tickets, cooking classes, or kitchen tours. This constant change will attract existing customers as well as new customers, especially previous winners who will be motivated to enter the contest again and also visit the restaurant, thereby driving repeat guests.

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