Love is in the air! As Valentine’s Day approaches, one thing is clear: your guests’ needs are changing. Although fewer people are celebrating this holiday, overall spending continues to rise and the reservations for Valentine’s Day will soon be filling up the books. This year, the National Retail Federation predicts Americans will spend a record-breaking $20.7 billion on February 14th.

While you may see fewer couples in your restaurant that evening, many guests are excited about anti-Valentine’s Day celebrations. Some are planning to treat themselves to a fancy, solo meal; others are organizing large get-togethers with other single friends. It’s important that your restaurant be ready to accommodate groups of any size. Use these guest management tips to make them feel welcome, whatever their relationship status may be.

 

Reserve the Right Way

Every guest has their own unique preferences. Some like to call in and reserve a table; others will only book a reservation if they can do it online. Accommodate all your customers by offering several options for planning their special night. It’s also important to clearly communicate your capabilities for the night: can you seat large groups? Do you serve adult beverages? Give your guests the best possible experience by letting them know what to expect when they make their reservations for Valentine’s Day.

After they reserve a table, communication only gets more important. Seating guests is all about the flow: you don’t want to rush anyone out, but it’s also a good idea to make incoming guests feel welcome. Strike a balance by clearly telling your guests how long their wait times will be. Some Guest Manager software even allows you to send them text notifications, so they can sit at a bar or go for a walk while waiting for their table.

 

A Warm Welcome

When your guests that made reservations for Valentine’s Day arrive at your restaurant, they like to be greeted personally. This may not be an option for first-time walk-in guests, but everyone else’s dining history can easily be recorded in your Guest Manager system. Train your hosts to look up each customer’s dining history when they come in the door. Your staff can greet them by name, seat them at their favorite table, and best of all, upsell dishes they might enjoy.

A little personalization can go a long way. Whether you’re hosting a romantic dinner for two or a large group of friends, it’s equally important to make every guest feel welcome.

 

Serve with a Floor-ish

After they’re seated, your Valentine’s Day guests expect the best possible table service. It’s essential for your staff to strike a fine balance between being available, but not interrupting any private moments. To achieve this, set your servers up for success with a great floor plan.

With certain Guest Manager systems, you can edit your floor plan online, assigning the right server to every section as you go. This kind of modularity makes it easy to accommodate quiet couples and large parties at the same time. You can also use some finesse when deciding which employee would be best suited for which section, and be sure every guest will get the experience they’re looking for.

Because Valentine’s Day is one of the few major holidays that doesn’t focus on family, it offers a unique opportunity for restaurants to build relationships with a variety of people. Use this holiday as a chance to spread word of mouth about your restaurant. Advertising limited-time offers on social media is one great way to attract new business for this special day.