The power of VIPs and gourmet foodies

From trendsetters to revenue drivers, VIPs can be a big part of a restaurant's success. Identify ways to wow and entice them to your restaurant.



Aug 2, 2023 - 5 min read

The power of VIPs and gourmet foodies

In the world of dining, competition is undeniably fierce. Whether it is a casual eatery or a high-end restaurant, operators must constantly vie for customer attention to ensure the longevity of their business. It's a round-the-clock battle to captivate discerning palates and convert new guests into loyal customers.

For fine dining establishments like Michelin and hotel restaurants, there is an added layer of stress. Not only do restaurateurs and chefs need to constantly push for innovation, or continuously upgrade menus. but they also need to focus on better hospitality restaurant management to keep guests coming back. More signature dishes? Check. More personalized hospitality? Check.

But while there's a lot of work to achieve these standards, there are two types of restaurant clientele that can ensure a restaurant's instant success. These are the VIPs and gourmet foodies. Who are they?

VIP (Very Important People)

From fashion, politics to business, VIPs can come from a variety of fields. Due to their status or celebrity, they typically receive special privileges and often get to attend exclusive events or eat at high-end restaurants. Their influence, spending power, and higher disposable income make them important clients to target.

According to a KPMG report, VIPs are 86% more likely to promote their favorite brands than regular customers. Due to their access to high-end dining options, this power of influence spills over to their restaurant choices. The more loyal to a restaurant they become, the more likely they are to generate word-of-mouth marketing and increase the number of people in their social circle who may come and eat at their favorite restaurant.

While this extends far beyond their choice of restaurant, these VIP influencers can spend up to 10 to 25 times more than average customers according to McKinsey & Company. Moreover, they can contribute between 20% to 50% to the business’s overall revenue.

Gourmet foodies

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a gourmet is someone with a refined palate and vast knowledge of food and cooking. In other words, they are flavor explorers who go out of their way to seek new culinary experiences and unique dining settings.

They use social media to hunt for restaurants and also use the same platform to promote their restaurant adventures. Because of their expertise and vast food knowledge, gourmet foodies are often seen as influencers for other guests and leaders in the industry, including professional food critics and lifestyle media.

How to target these high-end clients

Targeting these two clientele can yield benefits, especially for high-end restaurants. It will hugely enhance the restaurant's reputation, increase its customer base and bolster financial performance. Here are some of the ways restaurant managers and chefs can attract these two important target markets to positively impact business:

1. Partner with a powerful restaurant reservation platform

Choose a restaurant reservation platform to manage online reservations seamlessly while having the capability to build rich F&B guest data. This guest information, which can be obtained at the start of the booking process – will allow restaurants to get a comprehensive overview of guests – their likes, dislikes, and specific preferences.

TableCheck's Guest Profiles is a treasure trove of data that can empower hospitality operators to deliver unique and personalized experiences that meet the high expectations and preferences of these VIPs and gourmet foodies. Unlike OTAs who act as the legal controller of guest data, with the TableCheck platform, restaurant owners can manage, control, and OWN their guest data.

Guest data

2. Train your staff to provide five-star VIP hospitality

To provide VIP hospitality, restaurant staff must give these VIPs and foodies undivided and individualized attention. Front-of-the-line staff and servers can learn the names of VIP guests, greet them properly when they arrive at the restaurant, learn their customer preferences in advance, and even study the menu so that they can explain it to guests during service.

They need to foresee visitors' demands and provide a personalized experience. They should aim to create enduring impressions and loyalty by going above and beyond to deliver a flawless and outstanding experience for these high-end guests.

RELATED: How to train staff to deliver an exceptional guest experience

3. Keep communication lines open

Sometimes VIPs may need immediate attention if they have special requests or arrangements they need to do before arriving at a restaurant. Offering VIPs various communication lines via email or phone can show the restaurant's commitment to exceptional service. Provide the necessary information on all channels in case a guest contacts the restaurant outside operating hours.

TableCheck's Guest Recognition matches guest profiles with incoming calls, making it easier for restaurant operators to personalize service for important guests. Meanwhile, the TableCheck IVR Voice Concierge allows guests to make restaurant reservations via an automated system, preventing missed restaurant bookings.

4. Manage VIP walk-ins

VIPs and gourmet foodies would usually book restaurants in advance, but they may request last-minute reservations or even make an appearance at the restaurant's doorstep without prior booking. If the restaurant follows some Pace Rules – the maximum number of guests they allow per period – they may be able to reorganize their tables to accommodate these high-end guests and provide the best VIP table available.

TableCheck has a Pace Rule feature and also a Waitlist Management solution to make managing walk-in guests easier. Guests can conveniently book a table in advance using their own devices while being able to view menus or head to the bar while they wait for their table. They will be notified by SMS or email once their tables are ready, eliminating the need for staff to chase down diners or use old-school paging methods. This improves restaurant operations while creating a seamless guest experience that drives profits for the restaurant.

5. Collab with other celebrity chefs

One effective strategy for attracting high-profile customers is to offer exceptional food quality and unique culinary experiences. This can be achieved through inter-kitchen collaborations.

Inviting an already-established chef to the restaurant to collab with the in-house Head Chef, such types of collaborations can give VIPs a new thrill. Meanwhile, these events provide a new creative experience for the restaurant staff while also increasing the restaurant’s popularity and the possibility of reaching new VIP clients.


6. Provide Chef's Table experiences

Chef’s Table experiences are exclusive or intimate dining opportunities offered by some restaurants. With the extra services required to serve these guests, there are usually only limited seats.

At Chef's Table, VIPs and foodies are taken on a culinary ride where they enjoy special and one-of-a-kind menus to satisfy their culinary cravings. But the highlight of the experience is being able to see the preparation of their meals right in front of them and have conversations with chefs directly. Events like these require chefs to not only sharpen knives but also their presentation and conversation skills to make for a lovely lunch or dinner service.

7. Create a seasonal menu

Seasonal menus demand chefs to unleash their creativity, conjuring up dishes that showcase the freshest ingredients available.

Creating seasonal menus help restaurants to stay on top of the food trend and be sustainable. For example, in Japan, most high-end omakase and kaiseki restaurants, which are popular with international guests, usually use seasonal ingredients to create their award-winning dishes.. This allows the restaurant to attract gourmets who always seek new once-in-a-lifetime culinary experiences.

8. Offer tasting menus

A tasting menu is perfect for those with adventurous palates. It allows the restaurants to repackage and reinvent what they do best into a set of small courses, allowing the gourmet foodie to experience what they love most: new culinary adventures.

Tasting menus usually last between 2-3 hours due to the number and diversity of courses served; the experience allows clients to share more fond memories with their friends.

Hanoi’s TUNG Dining stated, “Every time you enjoy our tasting menu, it is like going on a travel trip. We take you from one unique experience to another, curating a memorable journey.“

9. Work with top food influencers

Some VIPs and gourmet foodies follow other food influencers to search for new restaurants. Working with individuals with a substantial amount of followers on social media can help raise the visibility and exposure of the restaurant, and also attract the type of clientele that the restaurant is targeting.

While these food influences are not exactly professional critics, they are becoming trusted sources of information. Collaborating with top food influencers should be part of high-end restaurants' overall marketing strategy to enable them to engage and tap into new audiences.

10. Tailor your email marketing for VIPs

Gourmet foodies are always on the lookout for the newest gastronomy trends and the most exclusive culinary offers. Restaurants that offer this can make their VIPs feel more special and more likely to identify with the brand. Here are some ways to use EDM marketing campaigns for VIPs and gourmet foodies:

  • Craft the message to individual preferences and dining history

  • Create VIP-specific communication and messaging for VIP guests, different from campaigns with regular diners

  • Use EDM to promote exclusive dining experiences such as tasting menus, Chef's tables, private dining opportunities, and invitations to private events and special occasions

  • Share exclusive behind-the-scenes content and trends

  • Encourage these high-end guests to answer your guest survey to improve the dining experience

TableCheck EDM helps restaurants to run successful EDM marketing campaigns. Restaurants can automate sending emails to VIPs, foodies or other selected list of clients on a certain day and time.

11. Offer exclusive membership to VIPs

Restaurants have traditionally used discounts to incentivize customers to enroll in loyalty programs. However, this method not only puts pressure on restaurant margins, it also reduces the value of the brand.

Instead, restaurants can start offering exclusive memberships more suitable for the VIPs' demographic and interest. Restaurants can start giving access to secret menus, invite-only events, or VIP-only gifts.

According to Modern Restaurant Management, these benefits can be more effective than discounts at driving engagement and encouraging repeat visits, as exclusivity can be a powerful motivator for VIPs.

TableCheck helps restaurants build their guest data and foster stronger connections with their most important clients, leading to enhanced guest loyalty.

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