In today's world where safety protocol announcements are as important as special offers, marketing management is a necessity for food and beverage establishments like bars and nightclubs.

While U.S. consumers grow more willing to visit restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, hesitation lingers. According to a November 2021 survey conducted by Morning Consult, two-thirds of U.S. adults said they feel comfortable dining out—a jump of more than 20 percentage points from March 2021. Nearly half of U.S. consumers (46%) are dining out at least once a week, and while Omicron has triggered a recent dip, the long-term trend is encouraging news for food-and-drink establishments clawing their way back to pre-pandemic norms.

Marketing plays an important role in reducing concerns and encouraging visitors. By blending an earnest attention to safety with relevant offers and enticing experiences, you can attract guests and strengthen your business.

In our increasingly digital world, tech-powered solutions are key for restaurants, bars, and nightclubs to communicate with and service guests. Here are five ways your establishment can leverage technology to market itself, ease customer concerns, and remind guests you're open and ready for business.

1. Use digital channels to spread your message.

Email and social media remain valuable and cost-effective communication and marketing vehicles. You can use it either to promote your new bar menu or handcrafted cocktail list or to showcase contactless payment solutions like QR codes on menus that provide convenience as well as safety.

And don't overlook your website. Make sure your home on the internet—perhaps your operation's greatest marketing tool—shares accurate information and clearly communicates, in words and pictures, how you're serving your guests. Note the health and safety protocols your establishment is taking to protect people, and share photos of cozy outdoor spaces or appropriately spaced tables to help ease concerns about in-person visits.

2. Offer reservations and/or waitlist.

Most guests want to know they can grab a table before leaving home for a bar or nightclub. By promoting your online reservation and waitlist system, you can reassure your guests they'll have what they need. What's more, you can create VIP-like experiences—greeting guests by name when they arrive, acknowledging the special occasion prompting their visit, and proactively addressing specific requests they might have such as outdoor seating.

3. Leverage a loyalty program.

With a thoughtful loyalty program, you can attract longtime patrons to return and cultivate deeper relationships with new guests. For example, you can share personalized offers such as automated birthday rewards or special deals tied to guests' purchase history to spur traffic and revenue. You can also use your loyalty program to offer member-exclusive deals or early access to special events or experiences like the launch of a new seasonal beer or VIP access to a radio station's live on-site broadcast.

4. Promote online ordering and delivery.

If two-thirds of Americans reported feeling comfortable dining out, that means one-third remain skittish. That said, you shouldn't give up on earning their business.

In email and social media campaigns as well as through your loyalty program, champion the ease and safety of online ordering and delivery. As many states and municipalities now allow restaurants to deliver beer and alcohol, your customers can enjoy unique dining experiences at home. Some bars have even introduced at-home cocktail kits or designed musical playlists recreating their in-house vibe.

5. Lean into the data to fine-tune your approach.

Marketing management blends art and science. It means creating compelling messages for your guests and then evaluating the success of those outreach efforts. Comprehensive reporting tools should provide objective data to inform decision-making. Examine what's resonating with your guests. Is it the new appetizer menu? Exclusive offers to your loyalty program members? If so, which ones? Double down on the most successful initiatives to stimulate additional business.

Striking the right marketing balance.

In a COVID-cautious world, marketing management requires more than clever taglines and happy hour deals. As health and safety concerns linger, many consumers want to know they can have a positive, safe experience at your restaurant, bar, or nightclub.

From your website to your online reservation system to your loyalty program, technology helps you ease concerns and customize experiences. Marketing the full range of your capabilities, whether that's holding a table on the patio or delivering a themed food-and-beverage package, positions you to earn guests' business and power your establishment's comeback.

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