The end of room service? Not so fast! Reignite traveler demand for your hotel and its room service with these four hotel marketing strategies.

Hotel Marketing Strategies – 5 Types of Travelers Can Revive Hotel Room Service Revenues

While some hotels have decided that the sun has set on room service as one aspect of the service they provide to travelers, others are taking a closer look before deciding to follow suit. Before you decide to discard room service at your hotel, try turning it into a profit center by catering your room service menu to these five different types of travelers.

Like any other tactical part of your operations, room service should be viewed as a tool you can leverage to achieve your overall hotel marketing strategy. Since some hotels are calling it quits as far as room service for travelers, you may be able to carve out a competitive advantage for your hotel and improve your ability to attract new guests and ensure repeat guest visits by coming up with a creative approach to room service.

One size may fit all (or at least most) when it comes to the room at your hotel, but thinking one-dimensionally about your hotel’s room service will not fit all of your guests. Travelers come in all shapes and sizes and numbers, and not everyone is looking for chocolate covered strawberries and champagne. Use these ideas to tweak your hotel room service, turn it into a profit center and create a strategic competitive advantage.

Hotel Marketing – 5 Types of Hotel Guests Turn Room Service into Revenue

Instead of taking a “one-size-fits-all” approach, think about ALL the reasons people might want room service and create segmented room service options tailored to meet their needs, such as room service menu items for these five different types of traveler stays.

1. People who aren’t feeling well

Often the reason that hotel guests stay in and order hotel room service is because they aren’t feeling well or are recuperating from common effects of travel (not sleeping well, staying out too late, attending parties, etc.) These travelers are not looking for exotic, rich room service menu items – they need something simple.

Create a menu of room service options just for recuperating travelers with items like chicken soup, saltines and 7-up that comes with a side of antacid, Tylenol or Tylenol PM.

2. People traveling with small children

Hotel guests traveling with children may prefer room service to corralling kids who are weary from travel or tourist activities, especially if your room service options are perfectly chosen and perfectly sized for them. Think about creating room service options for travelers with kids like peanut butter and jelly picnic trays, pizza and ice cream or even kid-friendly meals bundled with an in-room family movie and fresh-popped popcorn.

3. Couples in search of romance and privacy

Attract more honeymooners to your hotel by creating room service packages with room service menu choices geared just for them. Here is where you will find those chocolate-covered-strawberries and champagne, but you can also think in terms of omelets for 2 and other room service menu options designed for couples.

4. People traveling for work

Your room service items for people traveling for work (or who may even be using your hotel rooms as temporary work spaces, meeting rooms, etc.) should be designed for quick delivery. Beyond food and beverages that you could have delivered within 15 minutes (like bagels, cream cheese and yogurt, or cheese, meat and cracker platters, veggie trays and other options that could easily be scaled for one or two or even a larger group of people) you could also put some non-edibles on the room service menu. Those traveling for work may appreciate being able to order pens, legal pads, and zip drives along with bottled coffee and energy drinks.

5. Hotel guests with special nutrition needs

It’s hard enough to “eat right” at home where people can be sure to include all they need and exclude things they cannot or should not consume; it’s doubly hard to do so while traveling! Think about guests who have special dietary needs due to allergies or who may want to subscribe to various types of vegetarian, gluten-free, low carb, high protein or other weight loss, gain or maintenance diets.

You might also like: 3 Room Service Reboots that Generate Revenue


If you need a hotel point of sale solution to more-efficiently capture guest’s room service, restaurant and other hotel credit card transactions, we can help. Get a free, no-risk quote for restaurant merchant services, even if you just want to compare it against your current card processing fees.

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They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. If that is true, then as hotel marketing strategies go, improving your hotel’s room service options could be the way to capture the affection and loyalty of guests, and help boost revenue, too.

Hotel Marketing Strategies – 3 Room Service Reboots for Hotel Loyalty and Referrals

In the second of two articles on hotel marketing strategies, we lay out three more tactics that can help you turn room service into a point of differentiation to grow a hospitality business.

In part one we gave the first of our four hotel marketing ideas that can help you reboot your hotel’s room service in order to make it cost effective and create a competitive advantage for you with travelers, which was to stop thinking about room service as an elaborate menu or as a one-size-fits-all menu. Instead, we advise that you think about five different types of hotel guests that might choose your hotel, and create room service options that are personalized based on guest personas.

Now we will continue the conversation with three more hotel marketing strategies based on improving room service in your hotel. And it’s worth pointing out that these same tactics could help you attract customers and boost revenue for a hotel restaurant, not just room service.

Hotel Marketing Strategies – 3 Room Service Reboots Spark Guest Loyalty and Referrals

Add Value

Travelers stuck in their rooms due to weather, fatigue, illness or who are traveling with others might want to watch a movie, read a book or surf the internet.

Create room service options bundled with selections, such as a continental breakfast and WiFi package for travelers or a movie, pizza and popcorn bundle for guests traveling with kids.

Buy copies of a book of the month based on popular reading lists. Or collect books left behind and set up a library where guests can leave something they finished reading and take something they haven’t.

Provide copies of local interest magazines (wineries, restaurants, museums, state parks or local attractions) and encourage local publishers to provide your guests with in-room copies featuring local tourist destinations, shopping and other destinations that will help boost the local economy.

Give Away Samples

Grocery stores, big box retailers and countless other types of retail businesses have been marketing products and even services using samples for decades. Why not promote your room service options the same way?

Set up a guest hospitality station right in the lobby with a few choice samples and photos of some of your most popular room service items. On your display, note how quickly you could have the menu item delivered to their room or point out cost and time benefits vs. local dining options.

Providing guests with a sample of one of your menu items upon check in or arrival in their room could set the stage for an order during their stay, especially if you have done your homework and attempted to provide them with an item personalized to the traveler persona they most represent.

Do the marketing needed to make using and ordering room service as convenient and appealing as possible.

If people don’t know that your room service is something special, you can’t blame them for disregarding it.

Promote services with strategically placed advertising in-room (perhaps by the phone and television), with posters on elevators, hallways and walkways, using digital displays, in engaging lobby displays, leaving pool areas, leaving fitness center, etc.

Don’t neglect digital options in the tactics of your hotel marketing strategies. Send emails featuring your guest-favorite room service items to registered guests a few days before their arrival or even during their stay. Allow them to pre-order and pre-pay for room service items at a discount, digitally. Feature your segmented room service options on your website and social networks.

Give desk staff scripts to deliver based on traveler persona at the time of check in noting the room service option most suitable to them and giving them a room service voucher featuring a special offer at the time of check in (especially for repeat visitors or those loyal to the chain.

If you have a display or samples in the lobby, set up computer (or even old-fashioned paper form and pen) to encourage guests to take advantage of a special offer and order right from the lobby for later.

Over the years hotels have provided room service as a standard, but many have done so without approaching room service as a strategic part of their hotel marketing mix or expecting it to be a profitable and important part of the hotel guest experience. With hotels discontinuing room service due to lack of ROI, the door is opened to others to turn it into a selling point that helps to differentiate their hotel and become more profitable.


We offer hotel financing that can be ideal for hotel renovations or improving room service as part of hotel guest amenities. In addition, we can partner with your hotel to create an efficient hotel credit card processing solution that boosts revenues through easy impulse buying and hotel loyalty marketing.

Get more information or request hotel financing rates using the quick quote form below.


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Hotel Marketing Ideas – For hotels and motels, having a thriving loyalty program could bring serious business right to their doorstep, even during slow seasons.

Hotel Loyalty Programs Among Hotel Marketing Ideas that Bring Guests in More Often

A thriving loyalty program could be one of the key hotel marketing ideas you need to implement to grow. Recent data tells the tale, with some loyalty marketing programs accounting for nearly 80 percent of online bookings. If your hotel rewards or loyalty program is ho-hum, it’s not likely to do the job of maximizing occupancy and getting recommendations and word of mouth marketing from guests. On the other hand, some hotels are seeing big returns from even small investments in loyalty rewards; for instance:

  • TravelClick – loyalty program members account for almost 80% of all nights booked through a hotel’s website (
  • Starwood Hotels & Resorts – more than 50% of its occupancy during the second quarter came from its Starwood Preferred Guest program (

6 Hotel Marketing Ideas for Loyalty Programs that Engage

These are six types of hotel loyalty rewards that can help increase brand awareness, and cultivate enthusiastic brand advocates and brand ambassadors for your hotel or motel.

1. Sign EVERYBODY up! This:

  • Opens up regular marketing communication for top of mind brand awareness
  • Creates opportunities for two-way dialogue and gaining valuable feedback
  • Enables social sharing and makes it easier for hotel loyalty members to make personal recommendations and share your emails and social updates with their own networks
  • Makes it much more likely that travelers will go to your website to check out room availability (vs. booking flight plus hotel on a travel website or simply looking for lowest cost room available)
  • Creates an implicit agreement or relationship

2. Go beyond the expected (and boring) “buy 9 get the 10th night free” punch card mentality.

“Programs used to be comprised of a simple points system, but as the number of programs grows, companies are finding they have to differentiate by offering personalized experiences or rewards,” (from “Loyalty Programs are Worth the Cost” on

  • Use surveys, polls and other feedback to find out what individual travelers value and personalize their rewards accordingly
  • Don’t give away free rooms, give away free upgrades! Rewarding hotel loyalty members with automatic upgrades when better rooms are available makes a big impact without affecting your bottom line

3. Gain brand advocates by mixing convenience and luxury with loyalty; such as, 

  • VIP and exclusive “perks” make people feel special; people like to feel special!
  • Low cost, high impact loyalty rewards might include throwing in the WiFi and movie channels or gifting hotel loyalty program members with free salon and spa services, massages, yoga or fitness instruction and other personal services that people really appreciate – but don’t always indulge in
  • Free meals at your hotel’s restaurants or room service during their stay could save them a lot and cost your hotel very little, they also provide a valuable point of convenience for travelers
  • Partnering with a local car rental or limo service to make free or upgraded transportation available as a redemption reward could provide travelers not only with a convenient reward but may also satisfy a desire for prestige or luxury

4. Partner up and gift grab bags to your hotel loyalty program members with items such as:

  • Tickets to local concerts, plays and other cultural events
  • Passes to local movie theaters, comedy clubs, bowling alleys or other entertainment venues
  • Restaurants
  • Golf courses
  • Fitness centers
  • Independent boutiques and neighborhood stores
  • Salons and spas

5. Surprise them with something after the sale.

Cap off a great guest experience at your hotel with a post-stay thank you (such as a gift card to shop online on or delivery of branded hat, shirt, etc. or another personalized gift) along with an invitation to leave feedback via survey, your social media networks or leave an online review or rating.

6. Last but not least, don’t take hotel loyalty program members for granted!

Even if you are giving away freebies and upgrades, it’s a mistake to think that you don’t need to exceed hotel guest expectations throughout their experience as your customer. Generating word of mouth marketing, referrals and repeat business depends on gaining top of mind awareness and building a strong affinity for your hotel brand among travelers.

“The hotel loyalty program’s value is derived from the intrinsic value of the brand of which it is a part, Barnello said. If guests value the brand, they will also value the loyalty program as an extension of that.” — Michael Barnello, CEO LaSalle Hotel Properties, as quoted on

You might also like: Hotel Trends – Renovations that Generate New Hotel Revenues

Coffee shops aren’t the only third spaces. Find out how hotel renovations — from low cost to large scale — are helping to boost hotel revenues and attract more guests.

Hotel Trends – Hospitality Spaces Working Hard to Become the Next Big Thing

With a little ‘third space thinking,’ you can make simple renovations in your hotel, motel or bed and breakfast in order to bring in new guests and increase profits and sales in your hospitality establishment.

Although only recently made part of the lexicon of the US consumer, third spaces existed long before the popularity of Starbucks® as a business or social flex space brought the term to the forefront. With a little ‘third space thinking,’ you can make simple renovations in your hotel, motel or bed and breakfast in order to bring in new guests and increase profits and sales in your hospitality establishment.

The third space (also called the third place) is a term which refers to social spaces separate from home (the first space) and work (the second space). These third spaces become gathering places and accommodate a variety of community building activities, from purely social affairs to business and networking groups, gatherings for people with common interests or hobbies, extended offices and more.

While modern US coffee shops like Starbucks® have adopted the phrase, third spaces existed decades before coffee houses monopolized the term. For years, the barber shop and salon served as an unofficial neighborhood meeting place; also, gathering places like country clubs and civic clubs (like Eagles and Elks organizations) and sometimes even neighborhood restaurants and bars have served as third spaces in US communities for hundreds of years.

Generally, third spaces share some or all of these characteristics:

  • Admittance is free or inexpensive
  • Though not essential, food and drink are often important
  • Highly accessible, often within walking distance
  • Patronized by “regulars” but also a place where new as well as old ‘friends’ can be found
  • Welcoming and comfortable

Hotels, motels and bed and breakfast type hospitality businesses that engage in third space thinking are boosting revenues by redesigning common areas to keep hotel guests from wandering outside for meals, meetings and entertainment, and using these same spaces to help bring in new hotel guests, too. It’s a great example of hotel trends that are helping hoteliers re-imagine the role of their facilities.

Here are a few of examples of hotels that created third spaces – and boosted bottom line revenues:

  • Marriott International© remodeled lobbies as “great rooms” with free Wi-Fi, comfortable seating and menus featuring small dishes and local craft beers.
  • Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide© revamped its Sheraton brand by remodeling Sheraton lobbies with communal areas, modern furnishings and décor, improved lighting, and upscale wine lists and flat screen TVs at the bar. Afterward, the Chicago Sheraton sold 24 percent more wine during the first six months than it did the previous year.
  • Sheraton© lobbies were first remodeled with guest amenities in mind way back in 2006, when, in partnership with Microsoft, it provided free computers for guests; soon after they found themselves also selling coffee and snacks. While 5.8 million Sheraton hotel guests use the gym, more than 15 million use the computers every year.

“As people spent more time in the lobby, they were more willing to purchase food and beverages.”—Hoyt Harper, Senior Vice President – Sheraton

Hyatt Regency hotels in Chicago, New York, Atlanta and San Francisco have added clusters of chairs and couches as well as a grab-and-go marketplace and restaurant that over flows into its lobbies.

Hotel Trends - Renovations that Generate New Hotel Revenues

“The lobby establishes the pricing of the hotel.” —Bjorn Hanson, dean of New York University’s hospitality school

It stands to reason that guests will pay more to stay at a hotel that offers better guest amenities – amenities that go beyond the hotel room into the common areas of the hotel itself. Not only will they pay more to receive more, but they will also be more likely to return as a loyal hotel patron, refer friends, family and colleagues to the hotel and leave positive reviews and ratings for the hotel online.

Hotel Trends - Renovations that Generate New Hotel Revenues

“People want to go where people are… If [people] are more comfortable in the space and surrounded by others, they will stay and spend more money.” —Michael Slosser, Destination Hotels and Resorts

Obviously when it comes to these hotel trends, hotel renovation and remodeling projects can be expensive – but they don’t have to be!

Here are four low-cost ways to quickly renovate your hotel lobby and common areas in order to attract new guests, garner repeat hotel stays and hotel guest loyalty and generate positive word of mouth, referrals and online reviews for your hotel:

Hotel Trends in Marketing: Generate New Revenues by Rethinking the Hotel Business

1. Create multi-purpose micro-lounges

Remodeling an entire room – or even an entire floor – within a hotel can be costly; creating conversation areas within a lobby can be done for a fraction of the price! Create conversation areas or mini-seating areas conducive to families, business meetings or computer use.

In the evening, turn these micro-lounges into a space where guests can enjoy a cocktail, wine or beer before going to your restaurant (or going out) for dinner, or where they can relax with a beverage prior to returning to their room for the night.

2. Provide for one meal a day – or more

Adding a grab-and-go marketplace, coffee or wine bar to your hotel can be done in a much smaller space – and for a smaller price tag – than trying to add or remodel a large hotel restaurant. Think about your guests in terms of segments (families, business travelers, etc.) and plan for a small buffet or grab-and-go type options that would be perfect for business breakfasts or lunches.

3. Accentuate local crafts, artists and artistry

Cities – and even neighborhoods – often have their own unique “flavor” in terms of local food and beverage favorites, art and music. Why not infuse some of the local ambiance into your hotel lobby in order to leave a lasting impression with guests? Feature the work of local artists, offer tastings of local craft beers and wines and feature live music – right in your lobby.

4. Think convenience

If you have a smartphone or tablet, you have the technology at your fingertips (literally) to make the one constant of every hotel much more convenient for your guests: The hotel check in process. Make it as easy as possible for guests to check in and offer up digital coupons for use in your hotel’s restaurants, bars and other guest amenities during their stay.


From hotel merchant services and credit card processing to hotel financing, we have great resources for growing a hotel business through renovations and revenue-boosting third space ideas.

Get a free, no-risk quote for hotel payment processing or a hotel cash advance: 


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Most restaurants evolve over time and changing a restaurant menu will often be part of the process. Here are seven things you’ll want to do if it’s time to make big changes to your restaurant’s menu.

7 Things to do Before Changing a Restaurant Menu

We recently read an entrepreneurial success story about the restaurant industry on where a restaurant owner said that if there was one thing they would do differently, it would have been to have designed their kitchen differently, because their menu has grown and changed so much in the decade since the restaurant opened.

This is probably true for a lot of restaurant owners. The menu items that inspired your restaurant concept to begin with have probably evolved since you opened, and you’ve probably tested and added many other new food and beverage options over time. Some of these were probably easy to do given your current setup; others, not so much. And there may have even been some things you wanted to try but couldn’t due to facility limitations.

It got us to thinking about what it would take for a restaurant owner who wanted to make major changes to the menu or even – essentially – launch a whole new restaurant concept including a complete change of menu within the confines of their current location and space. From changes to the competitive marketplace, regional consumer demographics, or rules and regulations governing the food service industry, there are many reasons why you might be thinking about changing a restaurant menu. Here are seven things you can do to help ensure the success and growth of your business as you make these changes.

7 Things to Consider When Changing a Restaurant Menu


Whether you are opening your first restaurant, making tweaks to your menu or changing a restaurant menu completely, there’s no question that your facility’s layout, equipment, kitchen, storage, etc. has the ability to limit your options or even put the kibosh on your plan.


Whether proposed changes mean you need to make updates and buy equipment in order to add new menu items or your entire facility will need to be remodeled in order to accommodate a complete overhaul of your overall restaurant concept, it’s highly likely that you may need some time of restaurant equipment financing to complete the project.

Our restaurant cash advance financing might be an ideal option for you. It can be used for a wide variety of purposes, even including covering payroll and expenses if your restaurant renovation means that your doors will be closed for a short period of time. Since a restaurant cash advance financing can provide funding in a matter of days (not weeks), you can even consider this restaurant financing tool mid-renovation if need be. It’s a great financing alternative for businesses that expect to add new revenue, as might occur when changing a restaurant menu to add new menu items or renovating in order to attract more people in the local area.

Existing Customer Base

Obviously you don’t want to change your restaurant’s menu only to find that you have lost loyal customers as a result. If retaining people from your existing customer base is important, then it’s also important for you to consult them along the way as you consider making major changes to your menu or facility. Use surveys, hold focus groups and invite some of your most loyal customers to be part of the brainstorming and planning process.

Regional Demographics

If the demographics of consumers in your local area is evolving then it’s going to be important for you to change your restaurant over time as well. Staying on top of census information, trends, and information such as an influx of new residents or major employers entering or leaving your region can all point to areas of opportunity for your restaurant.

Major Players

If you are making major changes to your restaurant menu or completely changing your restaurant’s concept, it would be wise to touch base with influencers who can help to make sure that these changes bring in new customers. Major area employers, city leaders, civic influencers (such as Rotarians, Chamber of Commerce, Clergy, Educators, etc.) and internal VIPs such as board members, investors, vendors, and suppliers could all potentially go on to this list.

Available Talent

One really important thing to consider when changing a restaurant menu is sustainability; in other words, is there enough available food service talent in your local area to staff and run your restaurant under it’s new concept. If your concept is innovative, requires special skills or knowledge, or is unfamiliar to current and/or prospective staff, plan for a longer learning curve and a formal training program.

While the downside might be a more expensive orientation and training program, it’s important to remember that the customer experience is key. The more you invest in ensuring a unique, intriguing, buzz-worthy restaurant experience, the more likely you are to generate public interest, word of mouth referrals and repeat patronage.

Build Up Buzz Marketing

Sometimes how you launch is every bit as important as what you launch. Whether you are just announcing a few new restaurant menu items or you have done a complete restaurant renovation, the direct and email marketing, social media, restaurant website updates and public relations you put to work to let people know about what you are about to do (and/or what you’ve just done) have the power to put customers in seats. This is important not only in terms of validating your decisions (especially if board members or investors have doubts) but is also important for creating buzz, generating referrals, paying off any debt incurred in the process – and of course for the sustainability and success of your business in the future.

You might also likePrep for Growth – 9 Ideas for Growing a Restaurant

These customer service stats pave the way for turning point-of-sale customer happiness into increased revenue, repeat visits, positive reviews and new customer referrals.

Turn point-of-sale customer happiness into referrals, reviews and repeat visits. published a list of 22 customer service statistics that got us thinking about how, specifically, these stats can be turned into actionable point-of-sale marketing insights. After all, the point-of-sale is often one of – if not “the” – last moments in a customer’s buying experience. Making it a more positive one can lead to all kinds of actions that you want the customer to take next:

  • Recommending your business to someone they know
  • Posting a positive review about your company
  • Giving your brand a shout out on social media
  • Deciding to come back again soon
  • Feeling good about their decision to do business with you

Customer happiness can lead to all these actions and more. If your point-of-sale marketing strategy is inadequate or non-existent, it’s doing nothing to contribute to customer happiness. Now is the time to take a closer look to see what you can improve.

You might also like4 Ps of Loyalty Marketing that Make Our Customers Love Us

6 Ways to Improve Your Point-of-Sale Marketing Game

  1. Ask and Answer

Think about how hard you work to attract customers. Now imagine being able reach nine new prospects every time you made just one customer happy. Happy customers tell an average of nine people about their experience with a brand. One simple thing that you can do at the point-of-sale is to ask the question: Have we made you happy today?

Conversely, For every one customer who voices a complaint, twenty six other unhappy customers might not even speak up and give you the chance to make things right. When a customer complains they are doing you a favor! They are giving you a chance to improve the customer experience in a way that matters. They are giving you a chance to show that you really do care, that the customer truly is #1 with your company.

Customer happiness can lead to 9 referrals, customer dissatisfaction could cost you 16 potential customers. (American Express)

  1. Upsell and Cross-sell

Making recommendations for comparable items or suggesting add-ons, accessories and so on can produce an immediate return on investment. Why do you think waitstaff are trained to ask if you want dessert even while they are handing you the check? Why do you think ecommerce sites show you “you might also like…” and “customers who purchased this also bought…” items when you add something to your cart or prepare to check out?  Even if your happy customer doesn’t take action right away, you’ve also planted the idea, planting the seed for return visits and future purchases.

You’re 14x more likely to sell to an existing customer than a new one (Marketing Metrics)

  1. Get the Sign Up

Getting that email address should be an essential part of any point-of-sale marketing strategy. That email sign up represents a happy customer giving you permission to:

  • extend offers
  • tell them about events and sales
  • invite them to leave reviews
    • on your website for products/services they would recommend to others
    • on review websites such as Yelp, Google, Facebook and others
  • suggest add-ons and accessories
  • give them more reasons to like your brand
  • encourage them to share your content with friends, family and co-workers
  • invite them to follow you on social media

A 5% increase in retention rate can produce profit increases from 25% to 95%. (Bain & Company)

  1. Roll Out the Red Carpet

Have you stood in your customers’ shoes to know where they experience pain at the point-of-sale? Long queues, clunky processes and a general feeling that they don’t matter to you at the point-of-sale undermines any claims you make about customer service.

The happiest customers spend 140% more annually than the unhappiest customers. (Medallia)

Not only do you have to eliminate unnecessary hurdles at the checkout to make things faster, you also need to go slowly enough to give the customer your full attention and let them take all the time they want.

86% say they’re willing to pay more when the customer experience is better. (American Express)

  1. Say Something, See Something, Do Something

When a customer is gracious enough to say something went wrong in their experience, it’s up to you to see what you can do about it, then do it. Whether their dissatisfaction arose from something that happens to every customer or it was a fluke that just happened to them, whether it’s something that occurred inadvertently or on purpose, when the customer says something, your reaction is everything.

Customer happiness increases 37% when compensated with something of monetary value after a brand makes a mistake. But when the brand adds an actual apology, customer happiness increases 2x as much – to 74%. (Carey School of Business)

  1. Be Human

Are some customers in a hurry? Sure. But even more of them want you to remember that they are people, first, even at the point-of-sale.

“Human service” was ranked more than 2x as high as any other factor (number of channels, rich content, web assistance, social communities) when 9000 consumers ranked the most important aspects of customer support. (Genesys)

Taking time to make a personal connection that has nothing to do with the transaction itself can be a powerfully positive moment at the end of the customer experience.

Bank customers were 6x more likely to feel engaged when they got help quickly, but they were 9x more likely to feel engaged when the bank’s rep offered empathetic service (courteous, willing to help, expressing an understanding of how the customer felt, etc.) (Gallup)


Are you ready for a point-of-sale credit card processing solution that will work with – not against – your efforts to make the customer experience better? We can help! Reach out to us for a free, no-obligation quote for merchant services including payment processing and point-of-sale customer loyalty programs:

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Short of biting back, how can you respond in order to make sure that your reputation isn’t hurt by a bad restaurant review?

A Menu of Options for Responding to a Bad Restaurant Review

Did someone post a bad restaurant review about your business? Find out how to repair the damage, salvage customer relationships and recover after someone posts a negative review about your restaurant online.

It’s no fun to discover that a consumer has posted a negative review about your restaurant on social networks or a public review site. Few in the restaurant industry missed the social media storm that hit “Kitchen Nightmares” restaurant reality show featuring the owners of Scottsdale, AZ’s Amy’s Baking Company. Not only did the show’s host, Gordon Ramsay, actually give up on his attempt to help the company, things seemed only to go from bad to worse, including an onslaught of scathing social media posts on the company page and across the internet.

While it’s unlikely that your restaurant would ever find itself in a media meltdown, it points to the importance of having a plan for how you will deal with a bad restaurant review, customer complaints and social media slights that could damage the reputation of your restaurant and impact profitability. Your plan should also ensure PR training for employees, who could find themselves in the position of a spokesman needing to defend the reputation of your restaurant.

Who, What, When, Where and Why – Tips for Responding to a Bad Restaurant Review

Who Should Respond to a Bad Restaurant Review

While the first choice for “who” should be the one to respond to a negative review, social media post or customer complaint might be the restaurant owner or a designated marketing or public relations officer, it’s also important that a back-up be identified in the case that an individual is traveling, ill or unable to respond in a timely manner for some other reason.

What Will Merit a Response

Remember that it’s impossible to please everyone all of the time. Few (if any) restaurants receive 5-star ratings from every patron. A few negative comments here and there are not likely to damage the reputation of your restaurant or deter patronage provided there are several positive reviews and good ratings to offset them.

Every negative comment will not merit a response. Your media policy should include a general outline of the type of bad reviews or negative social media updates that will (or may not) require a response. In general, you only need to respond to bad reviews or negative ratings you feel have real potential to hurt your business in some way.

When to Respond to a Bad Restaurant Review

Depending on the topic of a bad review, you may want to delay your response until you have a chance to take other actions; such as:

  • investigating the complaint
  • contacting the individual personally
  • deciding what type of amends you want to offer
  • exploring the options available to you depending on the policies of the platform where the review was left (Yelp, CitySearch, Facebook, Google+, etc.)

When you do respond, make every effort to keep the conversation positive. Focus on the merits of your restaurant, staff, menu and other positives. Offer amends that can lead to a positive outcome for all parties. Avoid making comments that could be construed as personal insults or insinuations.

Keeping to the high road when you respond could be enough to protect the reputation of your restaurant from potential damage. Likewise, it can even bring in new business and motivate loyal customers to come back more often, not only offsetting any potential lost profits but actually increasing them.

Where to Respond

Ideally, you would be able to leave a response directly at the source. For instance, if the poor review came in the form of a social status update, the best place to respond might be as a direct reply or private message. If it’s not possible to leave a direct reply, you may need to post an open response on your own social media pages, blog, website or even include a response in your email newsletter.

Why a Bad Restaurant Review Can Be a Good Thing

Bad reviews can produce positive outcomes and these could come in many different forms, such as:

  • Discovering inadequacies in the customer experience
  • Identifying the need for staff training in general, or in specific areas
  • Fixing sub-par menu items or recipes
  • Providing opportunities to make amends with an unhappy customer
  • Giving you a chance to garner the attention of local press and build brand awareness
  • Laying the groundwork for better online marketing and reputation management

With the industry revenues projected to increase, restaurateurs will have many opportunities for growing a restaurant if properly prepped for growth. 

Growing a restaurant a real possibility, as half say restaurant sales will rise over the next 6 months.

52 percent of restaurateurs reported an increase in sales in January, down from 60 percent who said the same in December. Despite the drop in numbers, half of the respondents said they believe sales will rise over the next six months. However, not all restaurants are in the best position to grow. Here are nine key ways you can position and equip your restaurant to grow this year.

9 Tips for Growing a Restaurant Faster than Your Competitors

  •  Reassess Standards

From standards of service to the style and ambiance you want for your restaurant, now is a great time to reassess in order to identify areas where your restaurant can improve.

  •  Put the Right People in Place and Equip them for Success

Reassessing standards may reveal areas where staff lack in skills or fall short when it comes to the mindset and attitude you want to characterize in your organizational culture. To position your restaurant for growth, you will need everyone pulling together; this may involve reorganizing your staffing structure, providing training or re-training in needed skills, team building or strategic hires and layoffs.

  •  Identify New Target Markets

If your customer base is not large enough or your target market is a fairly small portion of local demographics, you need to identify new target markets and determine how you will reach out to them. Likewise, if in your reassessment you made significant changes to what your restaurant will be like in the future, you will need to plan how you will help to transition your current customers into the new format and/or how you will reach out to the buyer types most likely to respond favorably to the organizational changes you’ve made.

  •  Line Up Financing

Making repairs, renovating, redecorating – whether planning to make major or only minor changes, you still may need to line up financing in order to be prepared to capitalize on growth during your busiest months, seasons or holidays.

A restaurant cash advance could provide your restaurant with a quick infusion of working capital, based on its own sales trends, which can be used to make repairs, replace equipment, for remodeling or redecorating or even expansion. Since a restaurant cash advance is not a loan, approval doesn’t come down to a credit score or collateral, and it doesn’t affect personal or business credit.

  •  Build or Revise Your Website

Today, growing a restaurant requires an online presence. Without a restaurant website optimized for local search, chances are your restaurant is already losing out when it comes to attracting new customers. Studies show that restaurants are the most-searched-for industry on mobile. What’s more, when people do search for a restaurant, 64 percent convert immediately or within 1 hour.

  •  Add Mobile Apps and Compatibility

A significant portion of all web traffic now occurs on mobile devices; and for restaurants, even more. Often a local consumer is using their Smartphone or tablet while in the car, out shopping, after attending an event or on the road for some other reason to find nearby dining options.

If you don’t have a website with responsive design, chances are your website doesn’t provide a good user experience (if it gets found in online search at all). However, there are mobile apps which can instantly create a mobile version of your existing website. You should be able to customize the app to match your brand for just a few dollars each month and mobile restaurant apps abound to help you attract and convert new customers online. Even better? Ditch that lackluster obsolete website for a bright shiny new WordPress website, instead. Choose a template that features responsive design and gives you the ability to customize the site to align with your restaurant’s brand. There are thousands of free and inexpensive WordPress themes and plugins available, giving you the ability to put forward a professional digital brand image in a website that generates foot traffic, as well as web traffic.

  •  Review Your Layout

Growing a restaurant may require that you add more square feet or rework your restaurant’s design. Expanding to a new location or adding more square feet to your restaurant is one way to increase your restaurant capacity; however, it’s not the only way. You may be able to increase capacity by redesigning your restaurant’s physical layout. You may already have ideas on how this can be done, or it may be well-worth hiring an efficiency expert to assist. If cash reserves are standing in your way, restaurant equipment financing can provide the working capital needed for repairs or replacing aging equipment.

  •  Remodel and Redecorate

Over the years, colors, artwork, furnishings, tableware and other décor that was once en vogue may now be out of style. Likewise, the years take their toll in wear and tear. Now could be a great time to redecorate your restaurant in order to reflect the ambiance you want it to have, the attitude you want to project or the target markets you want to attract.

  •  Master Social Skills

Mastering social skills today means something different than it did before. Today, mastering social skills requires that you identify, acquire and adapt your restaurant’s social presence online, on the social networks where your target markets are most likely to find you. While most social networks are free to use, you may also consider some strategically paid placements or boosted posts in order to keep your brand in front of local consumers, grow your networks and attract customers.

While Supplies Last!  6 Reasons to Offer LTO Restaurant Promotions Create Customer Cravings and Get Them In the Door of your Restaurant, Bar or Coffee Shop

LTO Restaurant Promotions Spark Demand by Limiting Supply

Restaurant chains are on a spending spree when it comes to advertising. In fact, as the economy began to recover from The Great Recession, spending on restaurant advertising rose as much as 5x faster than total U.S. ad spending. In part, this was an effort by chain restaurants to steal market share from competitors using limited-time-only offers. You probably can’t outspend your competitors, but LTO promotions (limited time offers) could help you spark demand among local patrons.

Why do big restaurant chains and coffee shops offer customer favorites like rib-filled sandwiches and pumpkin spice lattes only for a few months every year?  Because it works!

And if LTO restaurant promotions work for big restaurants and coffee chains, it can work for your restaurant too. We came up with six ways to create customer cravings that can only be satisfied in your restaurant.

How LTO Restaurant Promotions and Time-Limited Offers Work to Increase Revenue

1.  Signature* menu items create new fans and build customer loyalty. 

Creating signature menu items – in and of itself – provide you with unique opportunities to promote your restaurant to new market segments.  When someone becomes a fan of something they can only get at your restaurant, coffee house or bar, they have to come back to get it.

*Just what is a signature menu item?  Just like a person’s handwritten signature, signature restaurant menu items should be unique to your restaurant and outside of the norm of what is available from competitors in your area.  It should be something that your establishment can become known for (and none of your competitors can offer, or match).

2.  LTO (limited time only) signature menu items create demand. 

When your unique menu items are offered only for a limited time, it gives you the ability to boost demand among your loyal customer base as well as individuals who are fans of that signature menu item with a sense of urgency, because that menu item will be going away in the near future. In fact, seasonal menu items may well bring in customers more often than they normally return, and even create a subconscious habit of returning more often to your restaurant, bar or coffee shop in the process.

3.  LTO restaurant promotions with signature menu items ignite consumer interest.

  • Customers will be looking for – and reading – your digital and offline communications with greater interest as they hope to see that their favorite signature menu item is coming back (or which one is coming next)
  • “Foodies” in your area are always on the lookout for something new to try, time-limited menu options help to satisfy their cravings and give your own customers a reason to try something new
  • Word of mouth and buzz marketing occurs as customers spread the word to family, friends, co-workers and social networks that they simply “must try” your LTO before it goes away again
  • LTOs have many of the characteristics of a “publicity stunt,” all on their own, providing you with many opportunities for PR, events and other press-worthy activities

4.  LTO signature menu items can help you steal market share. 

The word of mouth, publicity and intrigue that accompany your time-limited menu options can bring in new customers – not just regulars – and give you an opportunity to expand the ranks of your repeat customer base by providing them with an exceptional experience.

5.  LTO signature menu items can help you make up ground during slow seasons.

We help many restaurants maintain cash flow during slow months or seasonal lulls with restaurant cash advance financing.  Offering signature menu items during your slower months or slow season can boost demand and build restaurant traffic, helping to offset periods when you historically experience a slowdown in traffic and lower profits and revenues.

6.  LTO restaurant promotions help you guide customer demand and become more profitable.

Guiding customer demand with time-limited options may improve your ability to forecast demand overall, allowing you to better control costs and even save money at the same time you are increasing revenues – making your restaurant more profitable.


We offer restaurant business loans, advances and equipment financing solutions. Find out more how to use our restaurant cash flow and working capital financing tools to grow your business by requesting a free, no-obligation quote.

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Find out why contests work and learn how to use restaurant contests to intrigue local customers and get them to visit your restaurant, and come back more often.

Get High Returns on Low Cost Restaurant Contests

When it comes to promoting a restaurant, well-executed restaurant contests can generate new customer traffic, boost the average ticket, fill seats during slower hours, bring patrons back more often and expand your contact database – if you do it right. Find out how to maximize your chances of getting high returns using low-cost contests to promote your restaurant.

Franchise restaurants and independent restaurants looking for new ways to promote a restaurant in their area may consider running a one-time contest or on-going restaurant contests in order to attract new customers or turn occasional customers into loyal, repeat patrons. As you brainstorm the details and customize a contest to highlight the strengths of your restaurant, here are some things to keep in mind.

An article provided some great tips for restaurants who want to use contests to promote their business, including two important psychological factors: “Your fans… evaluate their odds of winning by looking at the incentives provided and effort needed.”  In other words, they have to believe they can win, and they have to want whatever they get when they do.

5 Prize-Wise Tips for Attracting New Customers with Restaurant Contests

1. Prize-Wise, Bigger is Not Always Better

If you haven’t tried using restaurant contests to attract customers because you didn’t have a lot of money to spend on prizes or give-aways, it should encourage you to learn that bigger is not always better when it comes to contest prizes.

In fact, the bigger the prize value, the less likely people believe they are to win. Smaller prizes or running contests or drawings where more than one person will win will lead more people to believe they can win, which means more people will participate in order to try to win.

2. Make it Easy or Hard to Win, Depending on Prize-Size

People expect to have to do something that takes real effort or sacrifice in order to win something big. By contrast, it should be easy to enter or participate in order to win low-cost prizes.

Therefore, if you want lots of people to enter (whether entry occurs via restaurant visits or signing up to follow your restaurant via email or social networks, you should increase the (perceived) probability of winning by offering more prizes.

3. What Your Prize-Implies: Contest Type Impacts Perceived Ability to Win

Contests (where winners are chosen through some kind of subjective evaluation) may also be perceived to be more difficult to win. Be sure that you clearly lay out contest guidelines including how entries will be judged, measured or evaluated, and who will conduct the evaluation, in order to determine who wins. The more equal people perceive their chance of winning to be, the more likely they are to enter.

On the other hand, subjectively-evaluated and awarded contests that require more effort may result in fewer entries. If you are conducting a contest and want to boost its effectiveness, publicize the limited number of entries, so that you incentivize participation by implying better odds of winning among a relatively small pool.

Customers may feel they have a more equal opportunity to win when prizes are awarded via drawing, especially in drawings where any one participant only has one chance to win. Conversely, you can incentivize customer behaviors by providing them with more entries based on how often they visit your restaurant, how much they spend, visiting on slower days of the week or during slower hours, buying certain menu items or engaging in other desired customer behaviors.

4. Prize-Vies: You Win When Contestants Battle It Out

A contest where people enter by voting on line (such as voting for their favorite menu item, the menu item they would most like to see added to your menu, best looking dish or some other preference) can help you swell the number of names in your email and mobile marketing contact lists as well as the numbers of local patrons following your restaurant on social networks.

To maximize short and long term gains with a vote-based contest, set your contest up with an internet gateway which allows you to collect contact information or requires that someone “likes” your Facebook page in order to enter or vote.

5. Don’t Forget to Prize-Publicize

No one wants to run a contest that flops; whatever contests or drawing you ultimately decide to run to promote your restaurant, publicizing your contest in advance, during and afterward is critical for getting the highest return on your investment of time and resources.

If you let people vote in your contest or enter online, be sure that there’s an automatic share or an option for them to share out their participation status on social networks. This is a great way for people to let other local friends, family and co-workers know about the contest or drawing so they can enter (or vote for a specific entry).

When the contest is over, make sure you plan for a photo op and get a quote from the winner/s to use on social networks, in press releases and on your website.

You might also like: 5 Positive Restaurant First Impressions that Will Bring First-Timers Back


Did you know? You can marry your restaurant’s credit card processing POS solution to your loyalty marketing strategies. Following up with new customers with automated and personalized email marketing could turn that first timer into a long time fan. Reach out to us to find out how it works:

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