Fully Automated Restaurant Marketing: The 4 Step Guide

Automation and personalization are revolutionizing restaurant marketing. We show what it takes and how best to go about it.

Klaus Preisner
November 8, 2021

Today, consumers have more options than ever before. And they have become more selective. For restaurant operators, attracting the attention of potential guests is therefore an enormous challenge. Fortunately, there are now sophisticated tools that can automate restaurant marketing to a large extent.

This means that guests can be addressed in a personalized and individualized manner. In addition, these useful helpers support the optimization of occupancy and sales as well as the maintenance of a loyal guest community. However, up until now, these possibilities have been used far too little in the restaurant sector. A wasted opportunity, but this is not witchcraft. Rather, restaurateurs can let the data work for them independently.

In this article, we show how marketing automation can help restaurants to maintain guest relationships on a large scale through highly personalised interactions.


How do you get guests, in the first place and return customers. You have to know what they love: Oysters. What they avoid: Nuts. And all this information is in a guest database. Used in automated marketing. Offered and served accordingly in the service. This is how to make guests happy efficiently and effectively. Magic moments! A dream? Yes - possible now!


Automated marketing: the three basics

Data - Marketing - Automation. The golden triangle that makes a restaurant the Bermuda Triangle to which all guests are drawn! What is it all about? Here are the three basics.


Data: Don't miss important information

Data is the fishing net. And not to bait the one fish, but to catch the whole school: All the guests. What is needed is the most detailed information possible about the people. Not just their names, addresses, e-mails and telephone numbers. What counts just as much are specific preferences and behaviour. So that the offer fits the guests. And so does the restaurant marketing.


Marketing: Show people what they like

The most attractive offer is useless if nobody knows about it. You have to make it known and popular. And do it precisely: specific offers for the respective guest segments. What makes the different guests happy?


Guests who dine in groups might be open to tavolata, shared tables for mixed groups, for example. Romantic candlelight dinners for couples, brunch for families, tastings or the food-wine pairing events for wine-lovers. And of course, you should primarily address locals when it comes to last-minute promotions or announcing that seats are still available at a certain event.

On the other hand, you scare away potential guests if you send them countless e-mails with offers and services that do not interest them at all. In the worst case, these emails end up directly in the spam folder. It's a completely different story if the emails contain relevant information.


Software takes over tedious tasks

Data only turns to gold when it is automatically collected and processed. Meaning: when a certain situation occurs, an action is automatically triggered, e.g. sending a message.

Why not automatically send every guest a thank-you email via Mailchimp after the third visit - guests tagged as "regular guest" - that as a regular guest he or she can book online at shorter notice and receive the better tables or even earlier information and invitations to events? And that's exactly what guests love: special treatment, magic moments!

And all this automatically for each respective guest without time-consuming, error-prone typing. Sexy? Very!

Automated marketing: The most important steps and use cases

Step 1: Collect data automatically

The be-all and end-all for targeted marketing is detailed and correct guest data. And that is already the first challenge for restaurants. Because making reservations by phone - chatting and typing - costs stress, time, and money. But above all, the data collected in this way is usually not digitised - and if it is, it is often incomplete or incorrect. A name is easily misunderstood on the phone.

The easiest way is automated online reservations - for restaurateurs and guests. The latter can make reservations around the clock and see when a table is free. And the best thing about it: they enter and disclose their data themselves. Owners and service staff don't have to lift a finger to know who makes reservations, when and how often, and much more.

The more you know about your guests, sometimes before they have even been there, the more precisely you can respond to their needs. In marketing as in the restaurant, the happier you can make them, the more loyal customers they become.


Step 2: Connect data

Data is like jewelry. If it lies unused in the safe or box, it are of no use. Being able to write to guests with just one click is a great thing. In addition to guest data, all that is needed is a link to a newsletter tool. In short: a smart data transfer.

Open reservation systems like aleno can be easily connected with other open systems - for example with Mailchimp. This means that the guest data is available in Mailchimp for the mail dispatch. Step 1.

And if a guest makes a reservation for four people, why not offer the other three an espresso in exchange for a newsletter sign-up. You have many more GDPR-compliant opt-ins and the possibility to reactivate thousands of guests at any time. Very clever.


Step 3: Individual tags for targeted marketing

You don't want to invite vegans to tomahawk steak night. But it's really good to pair the personality with their interest: meat lovers to steak, vegans to kale, wine lovers to sparkling wines, families to brunch, regulars back to the restaurant.

All you have to do is tag each guest. In state-of-the-art reservation systems, each guest can be categorised with one click, or several times, as a wine lover, nut allergy sufferer, VIP, troublemaker, regular guest, gluten-free, etc. which are also important categories for the restaurant. You can see the tags in the backend - gold value in the service. And you can use them for targeted marketing. The offer arrives exactly where it is supposed to arrive, and only where it is supposed to arrive. And that's what marketing is all about. Create the good feelings, avoid the bad ones. Targeted marketing. That would be Step 2, already quite hot.


Step 4: Targeted automated marketing

However, it only gets really cool when automation is added to data and marketing.

An example: A guest comes to the restaurant once, twice, three times. The reservation system automatically defines the guest who comes three times as a regular guest and sends him/her an email on the third visit to the restaurant, telling him/her how nice it is to be able to receive and entertain him/her again, that from now on he/she can make reservations at even shorter notice, and that he/she will be seated at the best tables.

The software does all this by itself: it sends the mail AND places the guests at the best tables. Special treatment, magic moments, great guest experience - FULLY AUTOMATIC.

And the guest doesn't even have to come to the restaurant regularly to know what he or she likes. The guest likes the post about the Tomahawk steak on Instagram and is automatically tagged as a beef-eater in the reservation system and receives the invitation to the next barbecue and game week. Awesome? Awesome! And that's just one of the 6 best use cases.


The new Art Restaurant Marketing

With the new possibilities to let data and algorithms work for them, restaurant operators have completely new ways to get more guests, which provide significantly higher sales and even take over part of the advertising.

The most important tools are available. The only thing left to do is to use them. Some restaurateurs still shy away from this. A mistake. Once the foundation has been laid with open systems, they can be expanded step by step and ideally tailored to their own needs. In this way, the restaurant quickly stands out from others in terms of marketing and fully pays off in terms of the guest.


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