restaurant footfall with carbonara app

7 Ways to Sustain Restaurant Footfall in 2024

There’s loads of ways to reel customers back to restaurant tables after their first visit. If you’re currently thinking about how to increase your restaurant footfall, read our 7 ways exploring the simplest, cost-effective options available right now.

Don’t forget to consider how a free restaurant app can help you increase your customer satisfaction levels. Contact us to learn more.

1. Dish Out Rewards

It’s simple to be rewarding. Restaurants can offer free desserts for well-written positive reviews online or enter reviewers into a raffle to win a gift card. Inventive rewards like these are always effective. They build customer interaction outside the restaurant. Other methods include loyalty programmes and reward setups — let’s focus on them.

In the hospitality industry, a loyalty programme helps build a psychological attachment to the venue. They help drive footfall in individual restaurants because they increase the chance that customers will favour one place over others.

Harvard Business Review has shown that loyalty programmes work, helping to maintain restaurant retention rates, increasing profitability — if designed correctly.

To create an effective loyalty programme, restaurants have to consider:

  • Proximity to other restaurants. The path a customer takes to reach a restaurant makes a sizable difference. For instance, if they pass two or three other restaurants on their way, then a loyalty programme will help members pick that restaurant over others.
  • Customer spending habits. What are the best sellers on the menu? Which dishes are most profitable? This analysis gives restaurants the ability to find out who buys the most items, then choose which customers are more likely to enrol onto a programme.
  • A good email list. A targeted loyalty programme is the best way to produce results. As the Harvard Business Review puts it, “it’s all about rethinking how you approach targeting”. Send emails to customers with a historical spending rate. These increase the likelihood a customer will sign up.

2. Give Customers a Reason to Return

Guest incentives are important — especially during slower times in the year. As our guide, “6 Ways to Attract Restaurant Business on Halloween” advises: “Coupons, for instance, are a sure-fire way to encourage steady trade [. . .] the rationale is this: filling seats is better than witnessing empty ones”.

A great way to offer vouchers, coupons, and discounts is on holidays. Customers searching for the best restaurant deals are attracted to the best bargains they can find. One restaurant’s offer of “bottomless beer” for father’s day is guaranteed to attract many customers looking for a special day out.

“Eat, smile, eat, repeat” by Roy Katzenberg via Flickr (Creative Commons 2.0)

3. Book Online, Eat On Time

This one is easiest to implement. With online reservations in place, restaurants can make it exceedingly easy for customers to book tables. Going with the best online reservations system — one that provides an easy-to-use interface to navigate — can help customers book tables in minutes.

A good online reservation system also supports mobile access. Smartphone users search, find, and click on a restaurant web link and within seconds they’re booking a time for a table favourable to them. In literally a few taps, restaurant customers are able to book online without hassle. This incentivises restaurant footfall because it:

  • takes less time than alternative methods (i.e., telephone, email)
  • reminds guest automatically about their reservations, using notifications to help bring them in on time
  • provides a zero hassle experience

In an increasingly connected world customers expect restaurants to provide online reservations. With millions of people using smartphones everyday, it’s no surprise that online reservations ranks highly as a preferred method to book tables.

4. Connect via SMS and WhatsApp

To reduce the number of no shows, a proven method to maintain restaurant footfall is to connect with guests via smartphone messaging features.

It’s a simple explanation: most guests have good intentions at heart and want to make their reservations, but forget. 

Restaurant reminders alleviate this issue. Reminders sent via text and WhatsApp alert the guest(s) on their upcoming visit. A friendly notification message does the trick. Restaurants can also use templates to further simplify the process. 

Did you know SMS features are completely free with Carbonara App? Restaurants have nothing to lose. Talk to us and discover what this means for you.

5. Adopt New Hospitality Fashions 

Some customers prefer traditional recipes. Some prefer experimental dishes. Yet for many new and fashionable dishes brings them back.

Veganism and sustainable sourcing are two top trends at the moment. If bringing new dishes to the table, restaurants need a good way to advertise their changes too. On a website, for example, write about the thought that goes into dishes. The world’s 50 best restaurants all have sections dedicated to mission statements, including what their dishes stand for.

6. Make Generous Use of Social Media

When it comes to social media, there is no such thing as “less is more”. This is a very easy method to help spread the word about your venue. 

“A strong social media presence reflects the positive flavour customers will taste at your restaurant,” says our guide, “10 Great Ways to Attract Restaurant Customers”. Make regular posts and find as many photo opportunities as possible. This will help your restaurant to reach ideal customers and build brand awareness online — and since it’s public and out there your restaurant will have a global outreach without any cost at all.

“Waitress taking customer orders” by WineCountryMedia via Flickr (Creative Commons 2.0)

7. Build On a More Efficient Dining Experience

With restaurant retention rates in mind, the likelihood of a guest return really depends on the kind of experience they have with you.

Fostering ways to create the smoothest restaurant experience possible could be your best bet to set you apart from the competition.

It’s important to get table service right. This is the main point of contact between restaurant and customer. So why not improve it?

Carbonara App provides a free drinks pre-ordering feature to keep customers engaged.

  • Give customers choice in what drinks they’d like to be served with as soon as they arrive
  • Offer them the option to pre-pay for your restaurant’s best beverages. For example, a Gin and Tonic can look very attractive when shown on a smartphone menu. Great presentation will lead to purchases and encourage customers to look forward to the experience ahead
  • Save time as waiters and bar staff know exactly what guests want, assigning drinks to guests, knowing beforehand which tables to deliver to

Is your restaurant hoping to increase restaurant footfall with today’s best methods? Keeping track of customer drink orders is a great place to start.