How to use contests to boost your restaurant trade

During the pandemic, we here at The Stone Grill in Blackpool looked at every type of incentive we could use to boost trade once we could reopen again. As it turned out, thanks to our lovely loyal customers, we didn’t need to use many of them.

Rather than let them go to waste, we thought we would share one with you.

Competitions to help boost restaurant custom

People love competitions. They love being competitive and low the idea of getting a prize in return for a little effort.

As restaurateurs, we can use that to boost engagement on social media or while dining. Here are a few ideas you could use to do that.

Share for giveaways

Share an image of you and your dish on social media in return for a prize, discount, free dessert or something else.

This could be used as a standalone incentive or as part of a competition to see who gets the most tags or comments. Use whatever works best for your target customer.

Share a video of you trying to recreate a signature dish

Video is amazing for engagement so encouraging customers to share videos of them trying to recreate a dish you sell could work. Whether it’s cooking a steak perfectly or cooking a signature curry, whatever works best for your target customer.

Whoever gets the most shares, most comments or makes the funniest video wins.

Question and answer

Question and answer contests can be simple general knowledge or something more specific. We saw a restaurant that would ask customers what a particular server was wearing at the weekend. Correct answers got a free drink with their meal.

While you don’t have to go that far, creating something that requires a presence in the restaurant helps increased engagement, and hopefully, bookings.

Refer a friend

While not technically a competition, the refer a friend offering is too good to ignore when it comes to engagement. Offer an inducement of some kind to the referrer and tell them their friend must either accompany them or bring a random kitchen item with them, like a wooden spoon or something.

As long as you don’t advertise what that item is and only tell the referrer by email or DM, the contest should stay intact.

Guess the ingredients

Guess the ingredients can be done in two ways. One, guess the ingredients of one of your signature dishes. Guess the herbs or spices in the dish and get it free.

Two, blind taste test a la Hell’s Kitchen. Take five core kitchen staples, blindfold the customer and ask them to identify them. Keep it safe, keep it simple and it can be a showpiece in the dining room and something sharable on social.

Those are just five of many contest ideas you could use for your restaurant. We’re sure you can think of others!

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