May Marketing Ideas for your restaurant

If everything goes to plan we should be enjoying a bumper May for hospitality, from the 17th at least. With guests chomping at the bit to stay overnight in a hotel or B&B, or finally enjoy a meal or a drink indoors, it's a good time to start thinking about how your hospitality business can stand-out from the crowd and make the most of the anticipated boom to come.

May presents us with a combination of awareness events, bank holidays and key sporting fixtures - something for every venue to jump on the back of & create a promotion to entice its customers.

We've put together a handy list of some events below, along with tips & advice on creating your own promotion. Use your social media channels & if you have them, your email database, and let your imagination run wild with what can be an easy and cheap way to engage with your customers and market your business.

We can of course help you with creating and delivering a promotion, and are here to help if you have any questions or need any advice: click here.

UK Events in May 2021

  1. Dementia UK; Time for a Cuppa week 1st - 8th May


  3. National Vegetarian Week; 10th - 16th May


  5. World Whisky Day; 15th May


  7. Whisky Month; Across Scotland

  8. International Hamburger Day; 28th May


  10. World Hunger Day; 28th May


  12. National Biscuit Day; 29th May


  14. National Pet Month; Until 10th May


  16. National Walking Month; 1st - 31st May


  18. World Fair Trade Day; 8th May


  20. Mental Health Awareness Week; 10th - 16th May


  22. Ramadan ends; May 12th

  23. FA Cup Final; 15th May

  24. Women’s FA Cup Final; 22nd May

  25. Eurovision Song Contest; 22nd May (Rotterdam)

  26. UEFA Europa League Final; 26th May

  27. UEFA Champions League Final; 29th May (Turkey)

Important Dates

  • 17th May; Lockdown restrictions easing (planned date, as if you need reminding!)

  • 3rd & 31st May; Bank Holidays

Why create a promotion around awareness or national events?

  1. You can piggy-back other social media around the event by tagging or sharing your social media posts, people following an event may pick up on your promotion, or better still, you may get your post shared by the event organiser, giving you some free additional coverage.

  2. It helps you short-cut your planning. Running your promotion around a pre-existing event takes some of the leg-work out of the process.

  3. It’s a great way to let people know about your products or services that they may not already be aware of e.g. ‘Time for a Cuppa week’ would be a great time to let people know about the fantastic afternoon teas you serve.

  4. It’s something stand-out & newsworthy - anything different that stands out and resonates with your audience is more likely to grab their attention.

  5. People like to be a part of something, it gives them ideas of something new or different to try and creates a connection between them and your brand.

  6. It helps you focus on dates for running promotions, making the planning process a little easier.

  7. General awareness of an event increases the chance that the theme of the promotion will be on people’s minds. The simple psychology being that if you’re seeing burgers everywhere your craving for a burger is more likely to kick-in at some point that week!

  8. It can be fun for your team and creates a way for them to connect with your customers, as well as an opportunity for up-selling products around the promotion.

Create a promotion plan for your venue

  1. Have a little brainstorm with your team (or yourself!). Discuss the events that are most relevant to your business, or maybe important to your team.

  2. Tip: try and choose events that run for a longer period of time, such as awareness weeks or months, so you can promote over a longer period of time and reach more people. Promoting one day or one single event can be less effective and harder to measure, for the time taken to prepare for it.

  3. Create a shortlist of potential events that you could create a promotion around.

  4. Choose one event to theme your marketing promotion around. Try and keep it as relevant to your venue as you can, for example if you’re a cocktail bar, pick a drink awareness month such as Whisky month. If you’re a country pub, you could choose National Walking Month and give a discount on afternoon teas after people have been on a walk near to your pub.

  5. Think of something you can do to entice people to your venue. Awareness and brand building for your venue is great, and your promotion will automatically do that, but giving people a compelling reason to visit you is even better. Keep it simple, but you could offer incentives like;

  6. 2-4-1 on all Whisky-based cocktails during Whisky month.

  7. Free dog biscuits for all dog walkers during national pet month

  8. Free double-patty upgrade on all burgers on Int’l Hamburger Day

  9. Free vegetarian dessert with every main course during vegetarian week

  10. Write down the date, or dates, that you will post on social media.

  11. Write down the date, or dates, that you will send an email to your mailing list (if you have one).

  12. Gather some photos together to use for your promotional material. Your own photos are always best, and more authentic, if possible and of sufficient quality. Always use stock photos that you have licensed (no copying from Google images for example, you could be fined by the image licence holder for doing this) - try one of the well-known stock photo websites such as Shutterstock, Adobe or iStockPhoto - there is usually a small fee for each photo, but they all offer a free one month trial with a number of images included, so you can always do that for the first month.

  13. Research hashtags that you can use around the event, and write them down. For example, check the awareness event organisers social media pages & website for ideas, look back at past events, and use your imagination and remember to include local-relevant hashtags, for example you may use hashtags for national vegetarian week; #vegetarian #vegetarianweek #vegetarianfood #hertfordshire #hitchin #foodie #foodporn #veggie ….and so on.

  14. Tip: hashtags simply increase the chances of your post being seen & the overall reach of your social media posts.

  15. Write down your wording for your social media post, or posts, depending on how many posts you are going to do.

  16. Update your website (add a blog post for example) about your promotion.

  17. Tip: by creating somewhere on your website for people to find out more about your promotion allows you to measure how many people have engaged with it and taken action. It will also encourage them to sign-up to your mailing list (make sure you have a mailing list sign-up form readily available or popping-up on your website).

  18. Think about the mechanics of any offers you are giving as part of your promotion. The easiest way is a general offer that everyone gets e.g. 2-4-1 Whisky cocktails all month, or you may want to add a printable voucher on your website that must be presented when ordering, a copy of email to show when ordering, sign-up to your email list and so on.

  19. Tip: Be sure to let your team know the ins-and-outs of any offers so they're aware of what the offer is and how it works.

Once you have it all written down, you have a plan ready to put into action. Follow your calendar & get the word out!

Try not to get too hung-up on the mechanics of your promotion. After all, the end goal is to create awareness about your business or encourage people to visit you, how they get there and whether or not they have followed the rules doesn't matter too much when all is said and done.

Having said that, the more ways in which you can measure the success of your campaign the better e.g. by collecting printed vouchers, entering a code on your PoS system etc.

Increase your reach

If you want to increase the reach of your promotion, and spend some money on increasing its reach, you can also consider the following:

  • Paid social media posts; boosting or promoting a post for 5 days @ £10 a day = £50

  • Estimated reach, between 5,000 - 7,000 people (local audience)

  • Leaflet drop; there are numerous companies out there (us included!) who can design and deliver leaflets in your local area.

  • Cost for 5,000 leaflets printed & distributed for as little as £50

  • Influencer marketing: find or use your existing, local social media influencers to help promote your offer

  • Cost guideline: you will pay around £10 per 1,000 followers that the influencer has, so if they have 5,000 followers it will cost around £50 to pay them to talk about your business.

  • Email marketing: If you have an email database, send an e-shot to it telling them about your promotion.

  • Cost: depends on your email platform and size of database.


Your team are your best ambassadors on social media

Chances are, you have a team of well-connected social media users on your team. Make sure that you encourage (in the nicest possible way, of course!) every member of your team to share, like, post & comment about everything that you promote on your business social media channels.

Think about it, if you have 5 team members who have an average of 338 friends (the average number of friends according to Brandwatch, 2019) that’s a potential additional reach of 1,690 people. With the likelihood of your team’s friends being fairly local to your venue this is a quick, easy and free way to spread the word to more potential customers who may be interested in your promotion.

Tell us a story

Make sure you use Facebook & Instagram stories every time you create a post. These appear in a prominent position at the top of news feeds, so are a great way of increasing your exposure.

Make use of Facebook Groups

You should be in the habit of joining local Groups on Facebook, such as local food & drink groups, residential areas and business groups. Be sure to share your posts on any groups that you belong to (if they are happy for you to post advertising content of course) - this is a great way to quickly reach large groups of local people who may be interested in your venue.

Influence the Influencers!

Other than paying influencers to post great things about you, consider offering them something other than cash in return for a post - free food is always a great incentive for influencers, and the reason a lot of them post or blog in the first place! Find some local influencers and offer them a free meal or a drink in return for posting about your venue or promotion...good old fashioned bribery never hurt anyone, eh?!

Use your Google Business page

Make sure you add a news post about your promotion to your Google Business page. It's free and puts your promotion in front of anyone searching for & finding your business.

Add the offer to your Facebook page

You can add offers or events to your Facebook page, make sure you add it as one or both of these to increase the chances of people finding out about your promotion.

In summary, use the channels you have, focus on Facebook & Instagram, to engage with your existing audience and reach new, potential customers. Use your email database if you have one, or if you don't, start building one by adding this feature to your website as it will pay dividends later on.

Try spending a little money on promotion, by boosting posts for example, even a few pounds can help you reach thousands of people in your local area.


Remember, we can of course help you with creating and delivering a promotion, and are here to help if you have any questions or need any advice: click here.