OpenTable partnered with Kristen Hawley, founder of the popular Chefs + Tech newsletter, to create the How to Grow & Thrive in the Restaurant Business e-book, the ultimate guide to serving guests and growing your business at every phase of a restaurant’s lifecycle. We’re sharing excerpts from each stage, so follow along and download the whole guide here.
Martin Williams opened M Grill and M Raw in 2014, and he used OpenTable reservations to strategically generate more opening buzz. Here’s how he did it.
A month in advance of opening, we sent out messaging as an OpenTable exclusive, giving people a pre-booking opportunity, like a concert presale.
Those who booked via the exclusive received a complimentary cocktail or glass of Champagne in our private members’ lounge, and then a tour of the venue from me. This worked in tandem with our PR efforts; people had already heard about us, knew our background, and knew the brands we had worked for previously. We made it very exciting.
This offer alone generated about 2,000 to 3,000 covers in both sites before we’d even opened the books to the general public. This gave us the confidence that we’d be full and do a successful opening off the back of it.
The offer worked in tandem with our PR efforts. Whilst we were making a lot of noise about our unique offerings, location, and staff profile pieces, we were able to add a call to action. Someone who reads a profile of our chef has no direct way of being converted to a booking. By supporting this PR campaign with a marketing initiative, we took the media excitement around the opening and converted it into bookings.
This was so successful that we released a press release sharing that demand for M’s new opening was so strong it jammed the phone lines and our website went into distress mode—and that we’re fully booked for the first month. That then created another story which was PR-able. It flipped back on itself.
This also gave us the opportunity to create new regulars and engage with the people who are interested in restaurants. What’s nice about OpenTable VIPs, in particular, is that they’re keen to engage and connect to the management team or owner and be loyal to them. It’s quite easy to convert them into regulars.
Want to learn how to use PR to maximise a restaurant opening? Download the guide and visit page 18 for Elizabeth Hamel’s, Wagstaff Worldwide, tips for capitalising on the big impact an opening will have in the media.
Photo credit: Jodi Hinds