14 December 2022

Marketing for restaurants to drive January bookings

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Marketing for restaurants to drive January bookings
Annabel GibsonWritten ByAnnabel Gibson

Annabel is the Marketing Coordinator at Propeller, taking on the production of social media communications, creating copy for articles and contacting external agencies for collaborations.

Following the festive rush of December, January is a slow month for the restaurant industry. People are hell bent on saving money, eating healthier, and giving up alcohol for Dry Jan. Plus, it’s freezing! And without the pull of Christmas menus and mulled wine, people are more inclined to bunker down and stay home.

So when the odds are stacked against restaurants, how can they drive January bookings?

Here are our top digital marketing tips…

Make an offer they can’t refuse

Where would marketing for restaurants be without some appetising offers to tempt people through the doors?! Consider giving away 10% on any January bookings made in advance, or a free starter with every meal.

Prepare these discounts in advance and let people know about them throughout December by handing out promotional cards with every bill.

Create an experience

Why not use your space to host an event? A live music event, an art class, or even a cooking class. Offer a complimentary drink or nibbles on arrival and chances are, once people are through the door for the event, they’ll be spending money behind the bar too!

Two heads are better than one

Partner up with other local businesses and run co-branded offers.

Run partnered campaigns on socials with local small businesses offering discounts on products for every booking.

Perhaps also tap into the fitness market. Whilst the ‘New Year New Me’ rush is great for fitness businesses, it’s also highly competitive. When considering marketing for restuarants, why not reach out to a local business and offer their prospects a little something extra?

Don’t forget your regulars

Say thank you to your loyal customers and offer them an exclusive discount over email or SMS to encourage them to make January bookings. Make it personalised to make them feel special.

Speak to the resolutioners

If you can’t beat them, join them! Adapt your messaging to speak to people’s new year’s resolution. Marketing for restaurants involves highlighting the healthy options that you have on your menu. Let them know the calorie counts of your grilled menu (if it’s reasonable!). Offer healthy alternatives to their favourites. Develop a mocktail menu for the Dry-Jan-ers.

Or, take a tongue in cheek approach and speak to the resolution quitters! In 2021, 2.7 million people had given up on their Dry January attempts by 6th January! Offer them a consolidatory beverage for their efforts!

Market to local work crowds

Tweak your messaging to appeal to the office workers in your neighbourhood. Offer space for breakfast meetings and working lunches. Teams will be busy with 2023/24 financial year planning so offer them a change of scenery for their meetings. Make your WiFi available to guests so that people can come and work (and of course buy a coffee while they’re at it!).

Line up local press

Make the most of your free tables in January by hosting press and bloggers in exchange for write ups.

Have a digital spring clean

Use the downtime to make sure your online journey and digital marketing strategy is working to the best of its ability.


Audit the local SEO on your site to make sure it’s performing well. Ensure you’re verified and optimised on Google Business, Google Maps, Trip Advisor.


Take a look at your UX design and make sure your direct booking buttons are front and centre across your website and socials. Here are some more tips on UX design best practice.


Make sure your images are on point and your menus are up to date. Take a look at how we made a premium dining pub stand out online here.


Take a look at how your email list is set up and how you are speaking to your customers. Optimise your CRM so that you can send personalised offers to your customers based on their personal preferences. Need to work on your email list? Take a look at our article on driving database sign ups.

In summary

Whilst the January slump can be challenging for hospitality businesses, it also comes with many opportunities to get creative and test out new offers, partnerships, and initiatives that help drive January bookings. If you’d like support with your digital marketing for restaurants or website design, get in touch with Propeller.

We are experts in driving restaurant reservations with over 20 years of experience working with food and hospitality brands such as ASK Italian,  ZizziCoco di Mama and Young’s.We use digital marketing channels, creative advertising, strategic planning, data analytics, and conversion-optimised websites to achieve measurable success.Our industry expert team will work with you to achieve a fully integrated digital strategy that delivers measurable, tangible results.

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