8 Ways to Attract Tourists to Your Restaurant

This article was written by Kristi Turner for Food Newsfeed

According to a recent AAA Travel survey, nearly 100 million Americans – 4 in 10 U.S. adults – are planning to take a family vacation in 2019.  So, whether you are a specialty kiosk, fast-casual, or fine dining, there is additional money to be made by catering to tourists.

However, one of the biggest issues with tourists is making sure they even know you exist and how to find you. But don’t despair, below are eight low cost strategies to get travelers in your doors.

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.

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.

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.

Check with the local 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 the both locations as well for guests who prefer to dine in their rooms after a long day of site seeing.

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 times, 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.

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, 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.