Happy diners: 6 tips to build guest loyalty

Elevate your restaurant marketing strategy to turn first-time diners into loyal customers



May 12, 2022 - 2 min read

Happy diners: 6 tips to build guest loyalty

Having repeat guests is essential to the success of a restaurant business.

According to multiple studies, repeat guests spend more than one-time diners and it costs far less to retain them than to acquire new ones. It’s easier to upsell to loyal guests as they are already familiar with the brand which equals a return on investment (ROI) in the long run. But apart from their purchasing power, repeat guests can also boost a restaurant's visibility when they make referrals, which is more powerful than any other marketing method.

From revamping menus to giving special giveaways, there are multiple ways that restaurants can convert their diners to repeat guests to bring in more profit to the business.

1. Gather guest data

Building guest profiles is the first step that restaurants can do to create memorable experiences and stronger relationships with their guests. Guest profiles help restaurants understand their guests’ preferences while finding out other important information that they may need to be able to provide a more personalized dining experience for their guests.

Tip: The TableCheck all-in-one platform allows restaurants to capture rich guest data like names, contact details, birthdays, anniversaries, and dietary restrictions to help them elevate their guest experience. By using guest data, restaurants can provide impeccable customer service and make their guests’ visits truly memorable and one-of-a-kind.

A waiter offers a bottle of wine to guests

2. Treat them like VIPs

Repeat customers have high expectations. They demand quality and expect consistent top service each and every time they visit a restaurant. By using guest data to get an insight about their guests beforehand, hospitality operators can build a strong impression from the get-go and make their guests feel like VIPs. They can provide personalized greetings upon their guest's arrival and seat them at their favorite table if it is available. If it’s the guest’s birthday or anniversary, a restaurant can provide a free cocktail or a free giveaway to make the day extra special and memorable for them.

3. Slow nights no more

It’s the nature of the restaurant business to have busier days and slow nights. In order for restaurants to keep their loyal clientele, they have to find ways to turn these slow nights into exciting unique dining experiences. One way to generate more interest for customers is to create happy hours or themed nights. These can be "Ladies Night", "Decades Night", live entertainment or wine-tasting events.

These themed nights are sure ways to bring in more guests back to venues when coupled with special treats only available only that day. How about kicking off Monday nights with a special menu?

4. Celebrate special holidays

While Christmas, New Year, and Valentine’s Day bring in lucrative businesses for restaurants, there are many other important celebrations and events that hospitality owners can implement in their restaurants to boost reservations. Here are just some of the key calendar days that restaurants can add to their marketing calendar to retarget their guests and boost more bookings.

  • Chinese New Year

  • Ramadan – starts on April 1

  • Easter Sunday (dates TBC depending on the year)

  • Mother’s Day is May 8 in the US and other parts of Asia

  • International Day of Families May 15

  • Father’s Day June 19

  • International Day of Friendship July 30

Tip: Restaurants can use email marketing to inform their guests about these upcoming events. Restaurants can retarget their loyal clientele with emails when they are hosting these types of celebrations. Consider using automated email systems to send your guests the right message at the right time.

5. Listen to their feedback

Surveys provide insights into the customer’s preferences and habits and can help restaurants improve every aspect of hospitality much more quickly. Whether it is about the restaurant booking, the food, or the customer service, when restaurants take customer feedback into consideration, it is a win-win situation.

Tip: Surveys are also a good tool to help collate guest data which restaurants can use to opt-in guests for their marketing campaigns to attract them back to the restaurant. It is much easier for customers to answer surveys when it is written in their native language. The TableCheck guest survey is available in 18 languages.

Guest surveys

6. Loyalty scheme

Loyalty programs are one of the best ways to increase restaurant repeat bookings. Restaurants can create discount packages, a "welcome back" pack, or as simple as providing a free drink to attract these guests back to their venue. It is important however to create packages aligned with the preferences of guests. The more personalized it is, the more it can capture the guests’ hearts and help turn them into loyal customers.

7. Revamp your digital channels

Image is everything. Restaurants should ensure that their digital channels–from the booking form, and website to social media– are all well-designed and updated. The more consistent they are in the look and feel and messaging, the more chances that guests can connect to the restaurant brand and retain them as guests for life.

Restaurant website and mobile sites

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