Throughout the year, there are a number of holidays and events which your business can choose to take part in, in order to promote itself. We believe that Halloween is overlooked by many independent eateries as an opportunity for promotion, with many doing only the bare minimum, despite Britons spending a record £419 million on Halloween goods and activities in 2018 alone.
But how can the average cafe or restaurant owner take advantage of this spooky season and generate additional profit for their business? Today, we’ll be outlining fun and creative ways for those in the food and drink industry to capitalise on Halloween.
Decorations Are Crucial
Decorating the inside of your cafe or restaurant is one of the best ways to give your eatery a Halloween makeover. As the interior of your eatery will impact each of your customer's experiences with your business, this is a crucial first step in promoting your business over the Halloween period!
Your decorating abilities will, of course, be limited by your premises physical layout and current look. It may be that space is cramped already, meaning you'd have to take a minimal approach to your Halloween decorating or you may have loads of additional space, yearning to be filled by spooky skeletons and creepy crawlies! Whatever you're working with though, there are a number of ways to thrill your customers.
Whilst there are plenty of decorating options around, there are few revolutionary ideas when it comes to Halloween decorations, so you don’t need to wrack your brains too hard. What does matter, though, in our opinion, is that you aim for good quality. Cheap and cheesy works fine at a kids’ venue, but since most coffee shop customers are adults, if you’re going spooky, do it well.
Window decals are widely available – off the shelf or custom-printed – and, provided that you specify easy-peel, are an effective way to draw the attention of passers-by. If you’re on a high street, locals get used to their environment, so a splash of colour catches the eye as often as not. If you’ve got a chalk A-board, get in touch with a local artist and commission a bespoke Halloween decoration. Again, that focus on quality makes a difference. It’s also an opportunity to highlight Halloween-specific hot drinks and snacks.
Inside, this is the one time of year when it’s ok to have creepy-crawlies seeming to wander across your coffee machine and over the food displays. Rubber spiders are the go-to choice, of course. Cotton-wool or white netting forms spiders’ webs, an old broomstick in the corner, a cauldron, a skull, a carved-out pumpkin…or mini pumpkins in an old-fashioned jar - you know the stuff as well as we do. You could even order Halloween-themed stirrers to use instead of the usual teaspoons.
Don’t forget your window displays either! Changing your display to suit the season can really help you to make a killer impression on passers-by and to entice customers into your business. You can also use your windows to promote any special offers or events that you will be running. Give your windows the ultimate Halloween make-over by replicating your inside accessories using LED candles, pumpkins and cobwebs to give your shop-front a fun and festive feel.
Spooktify your Menu
Hot drinks and sweet dishes tend to lend themselves best to Halloween modifications. Let your creativity run wild and come up with new variations of traditional food and drink staples, such as “pump-cupcakes” and “zombie fingers”. These dishes will inspire your loyal customers to get active on social media, sharing images of your cafe or restaurant online. Who doesn’t love a bit of free publicity?
Make sure you have offerings at the other end of the spooky scale though, for customers who just want to enjoy a regular meal around Halloween. These dishes can be making use of reasonable vegetables (locally sources if possible) to create something enticing. Be sure to stress the fact that these dishes are limited time only - scarcity is known to be a key motivator when people are making purchasing decisions.
If time is against you, why not consider ways to tweak some of your existing menu items to give them a fun or spooky twist?
Pumpkin spiced latte, anyone? Winter is the time when all those different syrup flavours really come into their own – think apple, caramel, raspberry and pumpkin for starters. Go Googling for Halloween coffee recipes and you’ll find a host of easily prepared options. And start perfecting Halloween latte art. A ghoul cast in the frothy foam is going to be Instagram heaven – and that’s free advertising for your coffee shop.
You could also temporarily rename a few bestsellers to add a little Halloween flair. Simply renaming a few menu items will give your restaurant a fun Halloween vibe.
Partner With Local Businesses and Attractions
Seasonal times such as Halloween and Christmas are great times to partner with your local businesses. Look to partner with the local scary attractions, such as haunted houses. Come up with a shared arrangement, whereby perhaps customers receive a free ticket for every 4 large coffees sold.
By partnering with local businesses, you will be extending and building upon your existing network, making your business more prominent in your local community.
Dress to Impress
Encourage your staff to dress up as their favourite Halloween baddy, within reason, and as an incentive, hold a costume competition between your staff members.
Having your staff dress up for the occasion can be a great way to give customers a fun and memorable experience. Many neighbourhood restaurants are known for celebrating Halloween by dressing up their staff — a great way to get some word-of-mouth publicity.
Whatever you decide to do, letting your staff dress up will put them in a great mood, which will guarantee great service for both new and existing customers.
Host a Social Media Competition
Here at Nationwide Coffee, we bang on a lot about social media. This is because social media is a powerful tool for cafes and restaurants and can be used to inform and engage with customers.
One way to create excitement and engagement around your cafe or restaurant this Halloween is to hold a digital fancy dress competition. Encourage your followers on any social media platform to share their best Halloween costumes, making sure to tag your respective businesses accounts. Offer the winner of the competition a voucher to spend within your cafe or restaurant, as people who use gift cards on average spend 40% more than the value of the voucher on purchases in store or online.
Fancy dress not your thing? There are tons of other opportunities for your business to use Halloween to engage customers on social media. Perhaps encourage your loyal customers to submit pumpkin carving entries or Halloween themed treats. The possibilities are endless.
Promote both in-store and online
As always, whether you decide to offer Halloween promotions throughout the week or partner with a local business, be sure to shout about it! If you plan to offer a special menu for a limited time, for example, you can leave inexpensive printed versions on your bar leading up to the date, or placed neatly on tables. These can also be distributed to other businesses in the area.
Social media is your best friend. Use your social media platforms to announce any Halloween promotions you may be running, and your customers will be appreciative of being kept in the know - you may even attract a few interested new followers in the process.