Autumn is notorious for getting families out of the house to enjoy traditional fall festivities; especially in foliage-laden areas like New England. Maybe it’s because school starts in September, but it just seems like fall is the time when everyone has a plan in place. As a restaurant owner, you might be thinking: How can I make my spot part of their Halloween restaurant plans?
If you’re like many Americans, your fall to-do list might look something like this: pick apples and pumpkins, go on a hayride, drink apple cider, go to a pumpkin festival, decorate the house, visit a haunted house, find your way out of a corn maze…the list goes on until Halloween approaches on October 31.
There are even some haunted restaurants, but not every eatery can lay claim to the Halloween season year-round in such a way.
As a restaurant owner, the spirit of the season gives you opportunities to take advantage of the festivities and have a little fun at the same time. Between prepping costumes and running around town to trick-or-treat with kids, or attend a friend’s holiday bash, cooking is practically out of the question for most people on (and leading up to) Halloween, which is why you should make the most of the opportunity by coming up with some Halloween marketing ideas. With a marketing strategy, you can make sure your place is the go-to destination for Halloween deals. Not sure where to start?
Check out these five Halloween restaurant marketing strategies
1. Offer Tickets with a Purchase
Capitalizing on community events is one Halloween marketing idea that requires only a light lift on your end. Look for your local ghost tour, haunted house or corn maze and buy a limited amount of tickets. Now, run a promotion in which you give away these tickets to your customers that spend over a certain amount. Customers will want to spend more in order to get the most bang for their buck, and you can probably buy the tickets for your promotion in bulk at a discounted price. The idea of winning tickets to a beloved local event is more than enough to draw diners through your doors.
2. Whip Up Seasonal Recipes
One of the easiest restaurant Halloween deals to execute is coming out with seasonal specialties on the menu. (Need some restaurant menu design inspiration? Click here). Pumpkin soup, apple cider beef stew, pumpkin chili—let your imagination and creativity run wild.
While people are in the mood to warm their cores, be sure to provide them with a modern-nostalgic cross of seasonal treats and consider offering them as a special or at a discount from time to time to draw people in.
This goes the same for any bakery marketing strategy. This is the season for pumpkin pies, carrot cakes, pumpkin seeds and cookies, and there’s always a shortage of time in the lives of those who need to make them. That’s where you come in.
Last, don’t underestimate the power of pumpkin spiced…anything. Starbucks has created a fanaticism over their pumpkin spice latte (or PSL, for those in the know) that has spilled over into every other part of life during the entire fall season. There’s something about the flavor that people just can’t resist—sales data shows that interest is still at a peak—so make the most of it and whip up some PSL-themed treats.
While people are in the mood to warm their cores, be sure to provide them with a modern-nostalgic cross of seasonal treats.
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This goes the same for any bakery marketing strategy. There are now parties that require pumpkin pies, carrot cakes, pumpkin seeds and cookies, and there’s always a shortage of time in the lives of those who need to make them. That’s where you come in.
3. Make the Most of Ghost-Hunting and Murder Mysteries
Not every restaurant is lucky/unlucky enough to have a ghost tour in the area that brings in curious guests during the Halloween season, but there’s always room for a murder mystery dinner. The Doveberry Inn in West Dover, Vermont, offers all-inclusive Murder Mystery weekends where guests get character packets, dessert, and breakfasts, accommodations for two nights and a special candlelight four-course Murder Mystery dinner.
With a little bit of a marketing strategy, you can make sure your restaurant is the go-to destination for fall.
You may not be the Lizzy Borden Bed & Breakfast, where a theme is baked into its very existence, but it can’t be terribly hard to think of your own themes, right? For those restaurants near or inside of hotels that have ghostly rumors around them, you’ve hopefully already considered putting together ghost-hunting weekend packages for the month of October. The Stanley Hotel, amidst the Rocky Mountains in Estes Park and famous for being the inspiration for Stephen King’s The Shining, has a built-in marketing plan on their hands. Naturally, they host ghost and history tours, ghost story nights and ghost hunts.
Even if you don’t have something nearby, draw from famous haunted spots and host a themed event night anyway—people will still love it, especially if there’s a dearth of spooky attractions in the area.
4. Throw Costume Parties
Halloween parties can get rowdy, so be prepared, but an event like this has the ability to hit your maximum occupancy limit with little effort in terms of bar marketing.
If you want to do something extra special, you can team up with other bars to host a pub crawl like they’re doing in the Boston area. The Crawl-O-Ween, hosted by Barcrawls.com, is a three-day pub crawl that hits some fine Boston bars, including the Goodbar and Howl At The Moon. The event is “designed to ensure a spook-tacular evening.”
Another alternative is hosting a themed costume party à la Rocky Horror Picture Show, Nightmare Before Christmas, or any other beloved cinematic Halloween mainstays. What else could make Halloween lovers want to dine out (at your restaurant) more?
5. Start Loving Pumpkins
During the Halloween season, there is no such thing as having too many pumpkins. If you deal in design, you can sell pre-carved pumpkins. If you deal with produce, you can always sell regular pumpkins, gourds, arrangements, etc.
Easy enough, right? Either way, make sure to have the accessories on hand like tea light candles, battery-operated candles, pumpkin knives and all of that fun stuff. Before you know it, you will have transformed your spot into a one-stop Halloween shop—and your bottom line will show it.
Check out Upserve’s seasonality trend guide!