Stay up to date

Restaurant Marketing

How Restaurants Use Special Events to Boost Sales

Picture of ItsaCheckmate
By ItsaCheckmate on May, 2 2023
Live music at restaurant

With over 1 million restaurants generating $899 billion in sales in 2020 in the United States alone, the restaurant industry is a fiercely competitive market. To stand out from the crowd, restaurants need to employ creative strategies to attract customers. One popular approach is hosting special events, such as themed nights, live music performances, holiday brunches, and cooking classes.

Special events can be highly effective in driving sales. According to a survey by OpenTable, 93% of diners are more likely to make a reservation at a restaurant that offers special events, and 61% are willing to pay more for a special event menu. Additionally, 72% of restaurants say that special events have a positive impact on their bottom line.

The Aviary in Chicago is an excellent example of a restaurant that excels at creating unique experiences. This high-end establishment offers a range of immersive dining experiences, such as the "Kitchen Table" option, where diners sit at a table in the kitchen and interact with the chefs as they prepare their meals. The Aviary's creative approach has earned it numerous accolades and a loyal following of diners willing to pay top dollar for a truly memorable meal. By offering special events and unique experiences, restaurants can differentiate themselves from the competition and attract a loyal customer base.

Stand Out and Build Community: Hosting Special Events at Your Restaurant

Types of Events to Host

Hosting special events is a popular strategy for restaurants to provide customers with a unique and memorable dining experience. These events can range from wine tastings and trivia contests to military appreciation events and live bands, attracting customers and differentiating the restaurant from its competitors.

  • Wine tastings are a common event that attracts wine enthusiasts and curious customers interested in trying something new. Trivia nights are also popular, encouraging repeat business and customer engagement through team competitions on various topics. Bingo is another event used during off-peak hours to attract seniors.
  • Live bands and music events create a fun and lively atmosphere, particularly on weekends when customers are seeking a night out on the town. Themed parties tied to holidays or special occasions, such as Halloween or New Year's Eve, are also popular.
  • Community events celebrating local heroes and their efforts attract a loyal customer base and create a sense of community and appreciation among customers. These events can include military appreciation events or fundraisers for local charities.

Overall, hosting special events is an effective strategy for restaurants to attract and retain customers, generate sales, and create a unique dining experience. By offering a variety of events, restaurants can cater to different interests and preferences, ensuring a diverse and engaged customer base.

Benefits of Hosting Special Events
Hosting events at your restaurant can have numerous benefits for your business, including a positive impact on your bottom line. By providing a unique dining experience, events can add value to the overall experience, creating excitement and novelty for customers. Additionally, events can attract media attention, increasing awareness and ultimately boosting sales.

Beyond financial benefits, events can also lead to increased foot traffic and longer dwell times, which can translate to repeat business. By providing customers with a reason to come back, events can foster customer loyalty and create a sense of community around your restaurant.

Overall, hosting events can be an effective strategy for restaurants to differentiate themselves from competitors, generate buzz and media attention, and ultimately increase sales and customer loyalty. With a variety of event options available, restaurants can cater to different interests and preferences, ensuring a diverse and engaged customer base.

Driving Business with Wine Nights

Wine nights can be a powerful strategy for driving business and creating a memorable dining experience. By offering customers the opportunity to sample different wines, learn about wine pairings, and gain knowledge about the winemaking process, restaurants can attract both wine enthusiasts and curious diners looking to try something new.

Pairing wine with food is a popular aspect of wine nights, as it can enhance the flavors of both and create a satisfying dining experience. Restaurants can offer small plates or tapas-style dishes to pair with different wines, appealing to foodies and wine enthusiasts alike.

In addition to tastings and pairings, educational sessions led by a sommelier or wine expert can provide customers with a deeper understanding of the wines being served. This not only enhances the customer experience but also creates a sense of community and loyalty among customers who appreciate the knowledge and expertise being shared.

To further increase sales and engagement, consider offering themed tastings such as wine and cheese or wine and dessert. These events can create a unique and memorable dining experience while also driving sales of both wine and additional food offerings.

When scheduling a wine night, Wednesdays are a popular day for restaurants.  Many though also host wine nights on Friday or Saturday when customers are more relaxed and open to trying something new. By creating a fun and inviting atmosphere, restaurants can increase foot traffic and attract new customers while also fostering loyalty among existing patrons.

To promote wine nights, restaurants should consider the following marketing strategies:

  • Collaborate with influencers: Reach out to food bloggers, wine experts, and local influencers to promote the event on their social media platforms. They can create buzz around the event and attract a new audience to the restaurant.
  • Create a visually appealing menu: A well-designed and visually appealing wine and food pairing menu can attract customers and entice them to attend the event.
  • Offer special discounts or deals: Restaurants can offer special discounts or deals for customers who attend the event, such as a discount on a bottle of wine or a complimentary small plate.
  • Host a giveaway: Restaurants can host a giveaway on their social media platforms, offering a chance to win a free wine tasting or a gift card to the restaurant. This can attract new customers and create excitement around the event.

By implementing these marketing strategies, restaurants can successfully promote wine nights and attract a new audience to their establishment.


Engaging Customers with Interactive Events

Interactive events are a powerful way to engage customers and create a lively atmosphere in your restaurant. Not only do these events increase customer interaction and create a sense of community, but they can also generate buzz on social media and through word-of-mouth marketing.

To ensure the success of these events, it's important to choose the right activities and games that will appeal to your customers. Trivia nights, board games, darts, video games, and bingo are all great options that can attract a wide range of customers. Hiring a knowledgeable host can also make the evening more enjoyable for your guests.

Offering prizes is another way to add excitement and encourage participation in these events. Prizes can range from small items like gift cards or free appetizers to larger items like dinner for two or a weekend getaway.

How restaurants promote their interactive events:
Social media is a powerful tool for reaching a wider audience and generating buzz around your event. Email marketing is another effective way to target existing customers and encourage them to attend. Additionally, partnering with local organizations or businesses can help spread the word and attract new customers to your restaurant.


Creating a Vibrant Atmosphere with Live Bands and Music Events

Live bands and music events can significantly contribute to creating a vibrant atmosphere in a restaurant, enhancing the overall dining experience. To make sure the music matches the restaurant's style and cuisine, it's essential to choose the appropriate genre and volume levels. For example, jazz or modern pop with sophisticated touches may be suitable for gourmet cuisine, while punchier music may complement a bar-and-grill concept.

In addition, considering the season and adapting the music to match the mood can help create a more immersive experience. Upbeat, happy, and danceable music may be more appropriate for spring and summer, while singers, jazz, or more subtle styles may be better suited for fall and winter.

Analyzing customers' musical preferences using social networks like Facebook can provide valuable information for selecting the right music genre and style. Social media can also be an effective tool for promoting music events, allowing restaurants to reach a wider audience and generate buzz.

To further promote live music events, restaurants can consider the following marketing strategies:

  • Create a schedule of upcoming events: A well-publicized schedule of upcoming events can help build anticipation and excitement among customers.
  • Offer special deals or promotions during the event: Restaurants can offer special discounts or deals during live music events to encourage customers to attend.
  • Collaborate with local artists: Partnering with local artists can help create a unique and authentic experience for customers while also promoting the event through their social media platforms.
  • Create a sense of exclusivity: By limiting the number of seats available, restaurants can create a sense of exclusivity and make the event more desirable to customers. They can also offer early bird pricing or VIP tickets for a premium experience.
By implementing these marketing strategies, restaurants can successfully promote live music events and attract a new audience to their establishment, creating a vibrant and memorable atmosphere.


Leveraging Themed Parties and Events

In addition to holiday and seasonal parties, themed events can also be based on popular culture, such as viewing parties of popular shows or a Harry Potter trivia night. These events can attract fans of the franchise and create a fun and engaging atmosphere.

It's important to plan these events well in advance to ensure that all aspects of the theme are executed properly. This includes not only the decorations and menu but also any entertainment or activities that are part of the theme.

Partnering with local businesses can also enhance the themed experience. For example, a Harry Potter trivia night could include a partnership with a local bookstore to provide prizes for the winners or a Game of Thrones re-watch party could partner with a local brewery to offer themed beer specials.

By leveraging themed parties and events, restaurants can create a unique and memorable experience for their customers while also attracting new business and fostering loyalty among existing patrons.

Measuring the Success of Restaurant Events

To evaluate the effectiveness of special events, it's crucial to track key performance indicators (KPIs). Essential KPIs that restaurants should track include increased sales, customer retention, and social media engagement. Restaurants can measure the impact of special events on revenue by comparing sales during the event to the same day and time in the previous week or month.

Evaluating repeat visits and customer feedback can help assess the success of the event in retaining customers. By tracking social media followers, likes, shares, and comments, restaurants can determine the event's impact on brand awareness and customer engagement.

To collect and analyze data, restaurants can use tools such as point-of-sale systems, CRM software, and social media analytics tools. By analyzing data, restaurants can determine the ROI of special events and make informed decisions about future event planning.

For example, a Miami-based restaurant evaluated its weekly trivia night event through KPI tracking, which led to increased revenue, customer engagement, and repeat business. This demonstrates the importance of data analysis in measuring the success of special events.


Special events can be a powerful tool for restaurants to attract and retain customers. Whether it's wine tastings, game nights, themed parties, or live music events, restaurants have countless options for creating unique and memorable experiences that resonate with their customers.

By tracking key performance indicators such as increased sales, customer retention, and social media engagement, restaurants can evaluate the effectiveness of their events. For instance, comparing sales during the event to the same day and time in the previous week or month can help measure the impact on revenue. Analyzing repeat visits and customer feedback can help determine the success of events in retaining customers, while social media metrics can reveal their impact on brand awareness and customer engagement.

By incorporating special events into their marketing and business strategies, restaurants can set themselves apart from the competition and create deeper connections with their customers. Real-life data and case studies show that special events not only generate buzz and excitement but also provide a competitive edge in today's crowded restaurant market.

Stay up to date

Get the latest articles directly in your inbox, stay up to date