Digital And Traditional Marketing Strategies To Make Your Restaurant Thrive Over Christmas

One would think that restaurateurs around the world are rubbing their hands together at the prospect of the inevitable Christmas rush.

After all, Christmas is a proven time of robust economic activity where people are giddy with the gleeful anticipation of a little time away from work to over indulge with their friends, family and loved ones. The pervasive mentality seems to be “spend now, worry about it in January”.

You might also like: The Ultimate Guide To Local SEO For Restaurants

For better or for worse, it’s the perfect opportunity for savvy entrepreneurs in the service industry to capitalise. From businesses looking for the right place to host their office parties to hungry Christmas shoppers looking for a quality lunch, the season is ripe with opportunity.

If you’re concerned about your restaurant’s financial wellbeing there is absolutely no excuse for your profits to slump over the festive period.

Here we’ll look at some ways in which you can attract and retain custom to ensure that business is booming all through the winter through a combination of strategies both on the premises and in the digital realm.

The strategies here will involve minimal or no costs to yourself, although ordering more supplies in to accommodate the increased demand is always a good idea, especially when it comes to non-perishables.

Now is the time to invest however you can to ensure that you’re able to meet the spike in demand without compromising quality or choice.

Remember… Image Is Everything

Christmas is a time when memories are made and consumers of all kinds are aware of this. They want to make sure that when they dine out they do so at a place that offers the kind of atmosphere and experience they’re looking for. This means that you must show that your restaurant is a fun and jovial place to gather over quality food and drink.

Since many people will have exhaustive Christmas shopping lists to get through, they’ll take any extra value they can get too (more on that shortly). Your restaurant needs to create an atmosphere that is a warm, welcome reprieve from the dark, cold and dismal weather outside.

You need to use your decor and lighting to bring out warming colors like reds, oranges, golds browns. Be sure to add a little rich green here and there for that festive feel. Don’t go overboard with the seasonal affectations, however, you don’t want to hammer the point home so much that it becomes unsavory for people who don’t “do” Christmas.

Take a step outside and if what you see through your window doesn’t make you want to rush in immediately and order something hot, something needs to change.

While this should be your strategy when it comes to foot traffic, how will you get hermetic customers suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder to leave their homes when the world outside seems so cold, dark and forbidding? Here’s where social media will be your new best friend….

Get Social And Tell Your Story

They say that the first bite is with the eye, and the presentational flair with which you design your every dish should also be ascribed to your social media and content marketing campaign.

If you don’t already have a presence on social media, get one. Now! Your competitors are already using social media to get in front of new customers, promote their seasonal offers and dishes and build a clientele of loyal, repeat customers and every day that you don’t embrace social media your competitors get one step ahead of you.

Make sure that your social media feed is chock full of delicious food, sumptuous wines, warming seasonal cocktails and indulgent desserts. With the winter comes a human hibernation instinct that compels people to indulge their taste buds and engaging this desire will be instrumental in your success in getting people out of their homes and around your tables.

Social media is a wonderful platform upon which to build good customer relations and give customers a peek behind the curtain, introduce them to your staff and alert them to special promotions like happy hours. It’s also a great place to promote your content.

If your business is not embracing content marketing you should remedy this as soon as possible. It’s vital in telling the story behind your business and helping customers to build a personal relationship with your restaurant. Blog posts and videos are great for giving the place a sense of personality and character. If you haven’t updated your web site since 2003 now’s the time to endow it with these customer-catching accoutrements.

Make Your Place The Place For Office Parties

Every restaurant accommodates office parties, but yours needs to be the place for office parties. Encourage customers to tag you in images they post on social media so that their friends and family will see what a great time they’re having. This is also the time to build value into your Christmas dinner experience.

Build in extras like a free bottle of wine for parties over a certain size or promise a level of quality that they won’t get from your competitors. You should also incentivize customers to refer their friends to join you for their office parties.

Embrace Market Trends

Over Christmas, as at all times, an entrepreneur underestimates the trends of the market at their peril. While the majority of your custom may be coming to you for Christmas classics, a sizeable proportion of people are embracing vegan diets. While most restaurants offer vegetarian options to diners, many alienate themselves from a fast growing market by neglecting to offer delicious meals that are entirely plant based.

Don’t be one of them. Putting your vegan options front and centre in your advertising or social media posts will draw you an appreciative and loyal stream of custom.

Enforce Quality

Of course, all the marketing wizardry in the world won’t amount to a thing if the in-house experience doesn’t match what people see on their social media feed.

Now is the time to make sure that every dish is expertly cooked, every member of front of house staff is smiling, welcoming and courteous and to make sure that when someone steps through the door this Christmas they’ll want to keep coming back again and again through next year.

I’m Dan, and I’m an award winning SEO consultant and technical lead based in the United Kingdom. I work with brands around the world, ranging from SaaS, fintech and retail, to travel brokers, agencies and airlines.

SEO In Japan: A Guide To Japanese Organic Search

In Japan, Yahoo! is very much the dominant search engine. While the majority of SEO best practice for Google applies to Yahoo! it’s important to understand the differences between how users search in Japan, and how search engines behave in Japan compared to other countries.

It’s also important to realise that Yahoo! Chiebukuro (Yahoo! 知恵袋) is very powerful in Japan, or as we probably know it best – Yahoo! Answers.

Search engines in Japan include Yahoo! JapanGoogle JapanGooInfoseekBing JapanExciteFresh eye and Biglobe. Below are some best practice examples of how to succeed in organic search in Japan:

Japan Technical SEO

Local ccTLD & Hosting

As with most countries, having a ccTLD domain for Japan will bring you some benefits in Japanese organic search. Hosting your website locally will also give you a significant advantage as, like it is in most countries, it’s an important geographic indicator of trust and local authority.

Japanese Language

In Japan, four writing styles are predominantly used, these are Latin, Kanjo, Hirangana and Katakana. Let’s look at the word ryokou, which is a common keyword, especially in the travel sector.

Now in Latin, this is obviously ryokou, users in Japan typically type in Latin before converting their search query into their preferred writing style. So in Kanji, ryokou would be 旅行, in Hiragana りょこう and in Katakana リョコウ.

If you sell a product, whether it be a physical product or software – I’d recommend using latin characters in your domain, meta data and titles.

Short URLs

Length is not strength.

Make sure that your URLs are UTF-8 encoded, this simply means converting them from text strings in URL format. While the use of Latin is important, Japanese search engines understand Japanese characters if they are formatted correctly and will display them in the SERPs.

URL Sub Folders In Japanese

To help improve localisation, use Japanese characters in your subfolders. Using ryokou as an example (and Kanji), your travel website could look like:

travel-usa.co.jp/wisconsin/旅行/

You should follow Google’s best practice for your URL structure, definitely avoid IDs or CGI parameters, ensure they are unique and use hyphens to separate words.

Oh, and don’t go more than three deep.

Title Tags

Regardless of which country you’re trying to target, title pages are a fundamental aspect of SEO.

They should be precise, explain the page and be short so that they aren’t truncated in the SERPs. In Japan, trust plays a large part in user search. If you have space, place your brand name at the end of your URL to create brand awareness.

Onsite SEO Japan

Content

One of the most important aspects of onsite SEO is having good quality content, this doesn’t mean just translating existing content – it means having your content rewritten specifically for your Japanese audience.

This also includes ensuring that the template also caters for Japanese users. Currently in the western world, we want sleak and minimalistic designs, in Japan this is referred to as sibishii which means desolate. If you have a minimalistic website that to the western world is aesthetically pleasing, it won’t go down well in Japan. Japanese users like content, and well, we may describe it as a cluttered feel.

The Japanese are used to seeing a lot of information displayed, so don’t be put off from including lots of content on your pages. It is a different approach to the other side of the world- where less text, more engaging information and straight-to-the-point content are more common.

As always, avoid having thin and duplicated pages. If you must, use canonical tags on duplicated pages to avoid being penalised by the search engines or regarded as spam. Interactive approaches such as videos and infographics are always successful when it comes to engaging visitors to your website.

Other important HTML elements such as H1s, H2s, alt tags and anchor text elements are equally important, as is your page load speed.

Offsite SEO in Japan

Backlinks

Yahoo! Japan places more weight on directory listings than any other search engine.

Focus on building backlinks originating from Japanese IP addresses, local domains, local hosting as well as from websites that contain Japanese content.

I’m Dan, and I’m an award winning SEO consultant and technical lead based in the United Kingdom. I work with brands around the world, ranging from SaaS, fintech and retail, to travel brokers, agencies and airlines.

International Social Media Management With The Toronto Wolfpack

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Managing any social media community can often be a challenge, especially when you are doing so on the international scene. A lot of brands are able to build up followings and communities over time, and a lot of brands traditionally start off in a single country.

The Toronto Wolfpack however have not had that “luxury” period, being the first ever professional trans-Atlantic sports team, they are international from birth. Cultivating and managing a global social media community (predominantly in Canada and England) is no mean feat. Especially when the brand harboured such a negative reaction from large sections of the Rugby League community from the off.

A lot of the negative reactions I believe are down to the differences between American/Canadian and British sporting culture. In Britain we have a long-established league system of promotions and relegations amongst nearly all of our sports, while across the Atlantic a lot of the major sports leagues are made up of “franchise teams”, and leagues expand to accommodate new franchises.

Franchises can also move to new geographic locations (the most recent case in point being the St Louis Rams moving to Los Angeles). This “relocation” of a team was attempted in England, with some objective levels of success, when Wimbledon FC moved to Milton Keynes, becoming the MK Dons.

At this moment in time, the Toronto Wolfpack have just broken the 11,000 follower mark on Twitter, and 12,850 likes on Facebook, which for a team that is yet to play a competitive fixture is a remarkable achievement (set to play their first competitive match on March 4th 2017). In fact, they currently have the 16th largest Twitter following out of all the clubs in the top 3 leagues of the Rugby League system.

Aside from Leeds Rhino’s Twitter following, outside of Super League there are few teams breaking through the 10,000 follower mark. These followers aren’t just bystanders either, they are engaging as well. In January 2017 their 358 tweets gained 1,344,472 impressions and 73,746 engagements, which is an engagement rate of around 5.5%. This includes 36,000 media views/engagements.

So what can we learn from this unique situation? I’ve spoken with a key member of the Toronto Wolfpack social media team about the challenges that they have faced so far, and where they see the brand developing on social media in the future.

It was announced in May 2015 that a Toronto based rugby league side would be entering the English league systems, the response to this was ‘mixed’ at best.

How have you found the negative comments being made through social media and what has been your strategy to deal with them?

It was definitely a bit shocking at first to see the level of vitriol and hatred that was harboured by many towards this project. It was mainly from those in the ‘heartland’ of Rugby League, the M62 Corridor/Northern England, and a litany of Leigh Centurions fans who didn’t have the greatest things to say about our Head Coach Paul Rowley and his and a number of their former players choice to take their talents to Canada and join the Wolfpack.

I found it hard initially to detach myself personally on an emotional level. I am passionate about the club and am friends with a number of people within the organization who were being targeted.

had to make a conscious effort to approach the ‘haters’ in a manner that begot a Pro sports franchise, but I also felt it was important to solidify our support base by engaging fans constantly so it was and remains a challenging aspect of the job. Initially I was forced to block a few select people that had somehow obtained confidential information regarding new player signings and were constantly updating before we released the news. They were really accurate too! Haha. I laugh at it now but at the time it got to me.

The first Toronto Wolfpack homeshirt

I now try my hardest not to block anyone unless they are saying super hateful stuff or really crossing the line somehow. My ethos towards the cynics and naysayers is to “kill them with kindness”. I actually take time to direct message people and pick their brain about what it is that irks them. I have used this approach with Rugby League fans who just cannot stand the idea of our club and falsely proclaim the Rugby Football League is propping us up, I use it with Union fans who are decrying rugby league, and I publicly address the negativity with a calm and professional manner, and be as nice as possible without coming off cheeky or condescending.

Great question though because it is definitely one of the more difficult aspects of the position, and caught me off guard, initially. It should be noted, though, that the love, praise, and welcoming sentiments have far outnumbered the hate and negativity, and it is that positive element that helps keep things in perspective and helps you take the negative comments with a grain of salt. 

Given the time difference and the slight differences in our use of the English language (phrases etc) how have you found dealing with growing the brand on social media both in Canada and in the UK?

Honestly I have been obsessed with multiple facets of English culture throughout my life, and at one time lived outside of Birmingham, working with our CEO Eric Perez for his advertising firm. My father and grandfather are British as well. I picked up on some of the dialectical differences through my family and through my experience travelling to and living in the UK so I do feel it came somewhat naturally for me.

Toronto Wolfpack v Hull FC

I use scheduled publishing to ensure that our posts are timely for both audiences. I do find that if I am posting by 8am EST, that makes it 1pm GMT which is generally a peak activity time for social media, so it actually works out quite well.

It can be a little more intense if there is a game, like the Hull friendly, which started at 9am EST, and meant that for the 2-4 hours preceding the match there was a flurry of traffic on our social platforms that could be leveraged via engaging with and posting to those fans. So I try and make sure I plan for those days in which there are key events, signings etc., and that I consider the time difference when doing so.

When the 2017 season gets underway, how are you planning on developing the Wolfpack’s social media?

We really have been focusing on the visual direction/branding of the entire operation since I came on board, as I felt that was the area where we had the most room for improvement.

Our logo was awesome so that made it a bit easier, but there were a litany of aesthetic adjustments that I felt were necessary to ensure that we had a unique and identifiable ‘feel’ to all of our branding and graphic work.

I think we will continue to ensure our content is always of the highest quality, which is half the battle, and then focus on keeping a cohesive and somewhat rigid protocol to keep our visual identity congruent throughout.

We have found that contests, polls, video’s and articles/blog posts are some of our highest impression/reach/engagement pieces so we will continue to work on those types of posts to keep the buzz going. Once the season is live, Instagram Story and Facebook Live are going to start being integrated more frequently into our social media strategy, especially when we begin our block of home games in Canada.

Disclaimer: All images have been shared with me by the Toronto Wolfpack, with their permission for them to be used in this article. All data used has been provided by the Wolfpack with their consent.
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I’m Dan, and I’m an award winning SEO consultant and technical lead based in the United Kingdom. I work with brands around the world, ranging from SaaS, fintech and retail, to travel brokers, agencies and airlines.

3 Ways To Enhance The Visibility Of Your Tour Operator Website Through Content

As a tour operator, having a solid digital marketing strategy should be a fundamental part of your business, taking into account channels such as organic search, paid, social (organic and paid, and email.

Digital marketing however has become so blended with traditional marketing strategies that it is almost impossible for one to coexist without the other in the modern landscape.

It’s estimated that more than 60% of leisure travellers research and book their holidays online, and 95% look for and take note of online reviews before booking.

So how do we do this?

Travel SEO isn’t overly complex, but it does have it’s differences to traditional SEO. Designing, building and launching a slick website with great imagery is only half the battle, especially in a competitive vertical like travel and tourism.

It’s also important to note that building a brand isn’t cheap, and takes time, and it comes from a blend of all channels – as well as activities that don’t directly have an ROI (return on investment). To build a brand you have to get your name out there.

Whilst the travel sector is competitive, and a lot of the big aggregators dominate a lot of the first page for the bigger, marquee search phrases, as a tour operator you can make a lot of gains focusing on your niche and providing value. This is how you do that, and enhance your visibility through SEO.

#1 Keyword Research

A lot of people when they do keyword research focus on search volumes, without realising that the search volumes provided by tools such as Google Keyword Planner are not meant for SEO.

This is because the search volume data provided by here is the average number of searches performed monthly, where a paid Google ad appears. Now because a lot of PPC is driven by bidding on “big search volume terms”, it’s a cycle of self-fulfilment.

The only tool that gives pure organic search volume data is Bing Webmaster Tools.

This means that a lot of super relevant keywords are dismissed based on a search volume figure being used incorrectly. You need to focus on intent and relevancy, and target keywords that you can provides answers and user value to.

Rather than go on about how to do this here, I wrote these two articles for Search Engine Journal:

#2 Strategically Map Your Keywords, Content & Value Areas

I’ve worked with more than 80 travel companies, ranging from big international household names listed on the NASDAQ, to smaller outfits based all around the world. One thing they all have had in common, at some point they had been given crappy SEO advice around content, and as a result, generated a ton of individual landing pages.

There is a process that travellers go through before they purchase a holiday, a funnel of sorts. Now the time that it takes for the would be traveller to pass through the funnel varies, and some don’t complete it at all, but from experience it goes like:

Research & Discovery Content

This phase is where people are literally looking around on Pinterest, Instagram and performing searches like “where is sunny in September in Europe”, or “cheap European city breaks winter 2018”. They will be bouncing around a lot of websites and destinations.

Your content at this point needs to provide value to the user and not immediately try and sell. The more value you provide at this stage the more you will be seen as an authority for that particular query, and the more likely you will be referred back to further down the funnel.

Planning & Scoping

This is the stage before the would be traveller makes the purchase. They’re no longer looking for the high resolution images and sales patter, they want the cold hard facts.

  • How much does it cost?
  • Where can I fly from?
  • Where do I fly to?
  • What days can I fly on?
  • What are the hotel options?
  • Whats local transport like?

All important things. These can be included on the same page as the research and discovery information, and in my opinion you should – as this would create a very comprehensive resource on a particular destination that provides a lot of user value (and Google will recognise this too).

Purchase

Your travel content marketing efforts don’t stop once the sale has been made. Your content now is customer service focused, and needs to be designed to be easily accessible and answer further user queries.

As mentioned in the intro, reviews are extremely important to online travel bookers, and once they’ve booked with you, this is effectively were their experience with your brand begins.

#3 Collaborate With Travel Bloggers & Influencers

This one is easier said than done, but collaborating with other businesses related to your niche, travel bloggers and travel influencers to publish guest blogs, social content pieces, and cross-promote each other’s content will not only help increase the reach of your content, but it will also provide you with an excellent opportunity to increase the number of backlinks your website has.

Backlinks are still an important part of Google’s algorithm, but they shouldn’t be measured in terms of DA (Domain Authority), or PageRank – because a) Google has publicly acknowledged that it doesn’t use domain authority and b) PageRank scores haven’t been publicly available for years.

I’m Dan, and I’m an award winning SEO consultant and technical lead based in the United Kingdom. I work with brands around the world, ranging from SaaS, fintech and retail, to travel brokers, agencies and airlines.