How deep is your (guests’) love?


How deep is your (guests’) love?

How deep is your (guests’) love?

You don’t need me to tell you that Valentine’s Day is an important event in the hospitality calendar. In fact, according to research by the British Hospitality Association, it’s the most booked day of the year for UK restaurants.

The annual day of love poses a great opportunity to make guests fall in love with your brand, turning them into loyal customers. With the same token, however, Valentine’s Day service should be just like any other service.

While you want to make guests feel special on the night, of course, that personal touch and attention to detail should be a year-round attitude. It’s all about making sure your team provides the sort of service and experience that guests are expecting (or, better still, go above and beyond to exceed their expectations), each and every time they visit.

Finding out guest expectation

Diners make a conscious decision to eat in your restaurant, based on a number of different influences, e.g. recommendations by a family member or friend. From what they’ve seen and heard, they’ll come with a vision of what to expect upon walking through your doors; they may even have formed something of an emotional connection already, due to the personal recommendations they’ve been given, and are desperately wanting to be impressed. Think of it like this: every person who enters your restaurant could be choosing you due to a recommendation; they’ve thrown their trust into you, so it’s up to you and your team not to let them – both the referrer and the new customer – down.

Now, you might not know exactly what has influenced their decision – but it is possible to find out their expectations by engaging with them, listening to them and asking the right questions, at the right moments. I honestly think that gauging the guest and reading the occasion, then using the appropriate language (whether that’s cracking a joke or asking a question) is a truly honed skill. Nobody wants to be presented with a blanket-approach spiel; they want to feel special and individual, and it’s all about having the awareness to make them feel this way.

If the front-of-house team’s focus is just on selling the menu and taking orders, they’ll often miss the signals that guests give off about their expectations and what’s important to them.

Get your team on board and on brand

If you’ve got your marketing and promotion right, at least part of your guests’ expectations will be based on what you’ve told them to expect. So, first things first, you’ve got to make sure that you and your team know who you are as a brand – only then can you deliver the experience and service to match.

People buy from people. Every word your team says to diners and every behaviour and attitude they exhibit is a reflection of your brand. While it’s important to get the team ‘on brand’, they need room to be able to tell their story so that they can personalise their service without feeling like they have to stick to a script.

When the team feel informed and comfortable, their personalities will start to shine through, building an emotional connection with customers. So, let them taste the menu and understand what goes into making the food, helping them to build an emotional connection with your brand, which will be reflected in how they interact with diners.

Ultimately, you can only expect your staff to be passionate about your brand if you’re providing them with the platform to express themselves in an informed manner.

Don’t be too pushy

Like any good relationship, it takes work. But you can’t force guests to love you – you’ve got to allow them to come to that conclusion all by themselves. By all means, try hard to foster that deep emotional connection, but don’t resort to pushy sales tactics to create ‘loyalty’; that sort of relationship never lasts.

So, when you’re sending out emails, make sure there’s a good reason for doing so. Don’t just spam them because they came for dinner once. Sure, update them on what’s been going on at the restaurant and reward them for their loyalty – but let them decide when they want to engage with you.

When trying to attract new admirers this Valentine’s Day, put faith in your team to deliver the service and experience that diners’ expect. But, to do that, you need to ensure they’re clued up on the brand and comfortable injecting a bit of their personality into their service – not just for one night of the year, but also the other 364.

To discover what your guests think about your offering and provide them with a guest experience they won't forget, get in touch with our team today on 01225 470999 or email

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