20 Restaurant Contest Ideas To Make Your Customers Happy

20 Restaurant Contest Ideas To Make Your Customers Happy

Maximize the viral power of your contest by getting your customers' help with the promotion. So often, restaurants set up their campaign and don't give much thought to how they'll grow that initial spark into a full-on blaze. If you want to take your social media strategy beyond the simple 'post-contest photo and link' approach, you want to grow your initial contest reach and let it spread through word-of-mouth. Here are 20 restaurant contest ideas that will delight your customers and keep them coming back for more.

20 Restaurant Contest Ideas That Actually Work

1. Restaurant Contest Idea #1: Gift Card

2. Restaurant Contest Idea #2: Loyalty Programs

3. Restaurant Contest Idea #3: Share your Photo of Enjoying our Dishes

4. Restaurant Contest Idea #4: Ask Customers to Share a Unique Story

5. Restaurant Contest Idea #5: Night out

6. Restaurant Contest Idea #6: Free Dinner for a Month

7. Restaurant Contest Idea #7: Restaurant Recipe Book

8. Restaurant Contest Idea #8: Cooking Class

9. Restaurant Contest Idea #9: Behind-the-Scenes Restaurant Tour

10. Restaurant Contest Idea #10: Reward Extra Entries

11. Restaurant Contest Idea #11: Tag your friend! Win your meal!

12. Restaurant Contest Idea #12: Facebook Live Giveaway

13. Restaurant Contest Idea #13: Celebrate Your Customers' Birthday

14. Restaurant Contest Idea #14: Re-post Giveaway

15. Restaurant Contest Idea #15: Your Favorite Dish

16. Restaurant Contest Idea #16: Event Ticket

17. Restaurant Contest Idea #17: Donate $5 For a Chance to Win a Free Meal

18. Restaurant Contest Idea #18: Reviews from Feedback Sites

19. Restaurant Contest Idea #19: Free Mother's Meal

20. Restaurant Contest Idea #20: Choose Dessert for Next Week

 

1. Restaurant Contest Idea #1: Gift Card

A gift card contest idea is a win-win situation for your restaurant. Your contestants are guaranteed to be interested in your restaurant, and you're guaranteed new customers if you have a gift card giveaway.

Most online restaurant businesses will tell you that repeat customers are great for sales since they already use your products and services. But what about your first-time customers? They've never been exposed and won't respond unless you extend the marketing funnel with monthly emails or ads.

With a restaurant gift card idea contest, you can attract both returning customers and new customers, essentially extending your marketing funnel even more.

2. Restaurant Contest Idea #2: Loyalty Programs

It doesn't matter how successful your restaurant is or how diverse your menu is if you can't retain customers. With gamification programs, you can create loyal brand ambassadors for your restaurant.

Being innovative and creative while implementing a solid restaurant marketing campaign to retain customers is what this contest is about.

3. Restaurant Contest Idea #3: Share your Photo of Enjoying our Dishes

If you're having a contest on Instagram, ask your followers to tag their picture with your hashtag and tag their friends in the caption for a chance to win an iPad or discount voucher.

This strategy is great because it encourages people ordering a takeaway to post their photo on your wall or Instagram account in return for a chance to win something. That will help with customer engagement and give you free marketing exposure.

4. Restaurant Contest Idea #4: Ask Customers to Share a Unique Story

Encourage your customers to share their favorite stories featuring your restaurant. Then, motivate them by saying something like 'Tag as many people as you can to win a $25 gift card.'

5. Restaurant Contest Idea #5: Night out

Ok, so this is a super fun idea. Think about all the different entertainment and experiences you can create in partnership with another company that goes well with dinner or a meal.

Are you trying to build your brand as a family spot? How about giving away an 'unforgettable night with your family' offer? Do you want to attract locals of a certain age demographic? You can also partner with a local museum or art gallery for culture and history.

6. Restaurant Contest Idea #6: Free Dinner for a Month

A free dinner for a month means your loyal customers get easy access to food and drinks without paying anything. You want to offer this prize for your contest because you want to make sure you attract as many guests as possible. Not only that, but it will also help you achieve one of the main goals of your customers – winning the loyalty of your customers.

7. Restaurant Contest Idea #7: Restaurant Recipe Book

Why is it so good? This idea is appealing because people like getting cookbooks. Not only because they can cook quality meals at home, but also because they're easy to flip through and there's a lot to learn.

You can even tie it into a "guess the ingredients" sort of game for those who want to win the book. In addition to that, your restaurant will hopefully be featured on their page. Just look at what Olive Garden does for their contest - it's genius!

8. Restaurant Contest Idea #8: Cooking Class

Do you want to spark excitement and generate buzz about your restaurant? Then, offer a private, complimentary cooking class in front of your co-workers, friends, and family! That's an easy way to create a unique VIP experience for the winner.

9. Restaurant Contest Idea #9: Behind-the-Scenes Restaurant Tour

A behind-the-scenes restaurant tour is one of the most original experience-based prize ideas you can give to your customers. You can offer them to visit in the morning before the lunch rush hits so that they can see how the kitchen works. That's something that most customers never get to witness. It will give them an appreciation for your company.

You could make it even more attractive by offering a special behind-the-scenes tour at another time of year when there is a different event going on.

For example, maybe you can provide a behind-the-scenes look at how you prepare for a big holiday feast or an event like Valentine's Day. You can film this and then post it on your website or in an email newsletter to those who were lucky enough to win the prize.

10. Restaurant Contest Idea #10: Reward Extra Entries

Even though many restaurants provide extra entries for liking their page and following them on social media, few reward contestants encourage their friends to enter the contest.

Encourage your guests to tag their friends for entering the contest. That's a great way of getting more exposure and creating hype about your contest.

11. Restaurant Contest Idea #11: Tag your friend! Win your meal!

Here's an idea for an Instagram contest: Take a picture of your food and ask your customers to tag their friends in the photo. Whoever gets the most likes on the post wins a free meal! It takes just seconds to run a contest like this, and you'll be doing something fun with food besides dumping it on someone's plate.

12. Restaurant Contest Idea #12: Facebook Live Giveaway

You could also give away promos after every live as an incentive for people to check-in. For example, you go live on Facebook and announce that a new deal/special promotion is coming up at the end of the session. This creates a sense of urgency and makes users want to check the restaurant out. You can then run the promotion.

13. Restaurant Contest Idea #13: Celebrate Your Customers' Birthday

Throwing a birthday party for a randomly selected participant at your restaurant is another excellent idea. It's a great chance to appeal to your customers' emotions and get some genuine engagement on social media. They will most likely snap some pictures, celebrate their birthday, and enjoy your food with their friends. Of course, they will share these pictures on their social media.

14. Restaurant Contest Idea #14: Re-post Giveaway

There are many ways to repost photos on Instagram. For example, you can choose who reposts from your followers. If you have website traffic and Facebook fans/followers, use social media ads to target the followers of particular hashtags. You can even create a giveaway by reposting other people's posts. The giveaway winner gets to choose their prize, a free meal, or your latest product.

15. Restaurant Contest Idea #15: Your Favorite Dish

A dish contest is a fun contest to run. People will submit photos of their favorite food dishes (yours or their own). This type of contest will encourage them to revisit your restaurant instead of other restaurants. It also gives them some free advertising in the form of shoppable images that people can share on Facebook and Pinterest.

16. Restaurant Contest Idea #16: Event Ticket

To promote your upcoming event, give the winners their tickets for free, and make them the organizers of an event at your venue. Your fans will participate in building up excitement, and you'll get a lot of extra publicity when they share their thoughts on social media.

17. Restaurant Contest Idea #17: Donate $5 For a Chance to Win a Free Meal

A restaurant raffle contest is another giveaway idea to your customers, who are your most loyal brand ambassadors. If you want to get more people involved in charitable giving, be sure to request a small donation of $5 from each customer.

Ensure that the donation is not mandatory, but just a suggestion that would allow customers to enter for a chance to win a dinner for two. That will surely get them talking about your restaurant to build more awareness.

18. Restaurant Contest Idea #18: Reviews from Feedback Sites

Restaurants are almost certain to be using Yelp and similar sites. So if your restaurant contest idea involves customer reviews on these sites, it's essential to look at how other restaurants respond to negative reviews.

The best way to handle negative reviews is to avoid ignoring these reviews. Even global chain restaurants occasionally respond, usually with a link directing the reader towards the company's Facebook page or Twitter account. That can be an excellent restaurant giveaway strategy for winning over disappointed diners.

19. Restaurant Contest Idea #19: Free Mother's Meal

Raise awareness of your restaurant and encourage people to share their love for their old mom. For example, on Mother's Day, your restaurant could host a contest where customers merge with followers on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media sites to share a memory they have with their mom. The participant who generates the most "likes" wins free dinner for two at your restaurant.

20. Restaurant Contest Idea #20: Choose Dessert for Next Week

What's for dessert at local restaurants and cafes is always a hot topic of discussion. But you can let your customers decide. Open a poll and allow people to submit their ideas for your desserts. Then open it up to voting. The winning dessert gets featured, and the person who proposed the winning idea gets to try it for free.

Conclusion

The key to a perfect restaurant contest idea is making sure it resonates with your audience. Spend time analyzing their lifestyle, what they're looking for, and what they feel passionate about. That will help you craft a product or service that will stand the test of time in this competitive market.

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