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Nine Ways to Attract Tourists to Your Restaurant

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Jenny Day
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Will 2023 be a good year to travel?

Spring and summer travel usually means family vacations, meandering road trips, or exploring new cities. According to a recently released report by American Express Travel, a majority of respondents say they not only plan to take more trips this year than last, but they will also spend more money on travel in 2023 than in 2022.

What are the 2023 travel trends?

Travel + Leisure states that in addition to “set-jetting” (destination decisions that are heavily influenced by a binge-worthy show or Hollywood film), there’s a renewed emphasis on food-focused travel, wellness and self-care on vacation, and traveling off the beaten path. Surveyed travelers say they want to shop at small businesses and spend more during a vacation if they know it supports the local community. 

How do I attract tourists to my restaurant?

So, whether you are a local café, fast-casual, or fine dining establishment, there is additional money to be made by catering to tourists. Below are eight low-cost strategies to get travelers in your doors.

Read also: 12 Steps for Hiring Quality Restaurant Seasonal Employees

Think like a tourist.  You most likely created your website, Facebook page, and other social media accounts thinking about your local prospects. Now go back and think about what you have to offer that appeals to tourists and play up those attributes.  Do you have great views? Maybe a long history with locals or an interesting story about your origins? Nostalgia appeals to tourists who are out creating memories.

Add seasonal flair to your menu. Locally sourced, regional cuisine is always a big hit for visitors because it adds to the overall cultural experience. If you are tempted to try a seasonal menu but still not convinced, try an abbreviated menu to test the waters.  The results of the trial can let you know if it works for your target demographic.

Clearly display menu outside. Displaying menus and specials on your windows or a sandwich board can increase the number of drop-ins during high traffic times. Often, tourists don’t know what to expect when it comes to local fare and prices. Knowing what to expect before they enter your restaurant sets them up for a better experience.

Promote yourself online.  Set up accounts on popular websites such as Google, TripAdvisor, Zagat, and Yelp. These sites are a great source of information for travelers.  Be sure that your website is optimized for mobile devices as tourists are more likely to be on mobile devices. It is also important to monitor and respond promptly to reviews as many travelers may have limited information about your restaurant available when deciding where to dine.

Make your location a check-in hotspot.  Everyone loves to check-in on social media when they are on vacation. Make your mark on social media creating a unique photo opportunity and a few hashtags that reach both broad and specific tastes.  The more eyes that see #beacheats next to happy diners on the patio, the more customers want to come experience it for themselves.

Ask satisfied customers for online reviews. When researching new places to eat, diners are far more likely to trust their peers for reviews than any other form of advertising. When conducting table visits, it is acceptable to ask happy patrons to conduct an online review and share their positive feedback.

Check with your airport and car rental offices. Some airport information desks, and car rental offices are open to passing on coupons to travelers, so be sure to check with yours.  It can be anything from a 20% coupon to simply a free appetizer or dessert.  If you offer delivery, be sure to leave menus with both locations as well for guests who prefer to dine in their rooms after a long day of site seeing.

Reach out to nearby hotels.  Go to nearby hotels, introduce yourself to the concierge, and invite them to visit your restaurant.  Be sure to let them know why their guests would be interested in your restaurant.  A good concierge wants to have many offerings for a variety of guests’ different preferences so adding another option for them is a win-win. Once you have the trust of the concierge and they are comfortable in suggesting your venue to guests, offering vouchers to be handed out to guests will help fill your place.

Brief your employees prior to each shift.  Make sure your employees are experts on local sites, cultural events, music festivals, sporting events, and more. Tourists are likely to ask staff about what to do in the area, so you be sure your staff is armed with the right information and recommendations to provide.


There is no single secret ingredient for bringing in tourists, so keep trying different tactics to see what works for your venue.  Remember to ask guests how they heard about your restaurant so that you can begin to focus on the right channels moving forward.