The Value of Loyalty: Returning Guests Equal Significant Revenue

Loyalty is a valued trait for any individual, and for restaurant owners, it is something that is highly valued.  Not only do you want to have loyal staff that you can depend upon, but loyal guests help to keep your restaurant going strong.  New guests are always nice to have, but often, it costs more to get them to come in the door through marketing.

Loyal guests can be counted on to visit often, and offer additional value in word of mouth marketing.  Opentable and Venga partnered together to look deeper into the value of loyalty when it comes to your returning guests.  They found some interesting trends that should not be overlooked.

The data examined found that 20 percent of your restaurant’s revenue is coming from five percent of your guests.  Of that five percent, you will find that half of them are loyal guests that are returning to your establishment.  This is a group that shouldn’t be ignored, and here are some ways to maximize the value that these guests provide to your business.

Target Preferences

The data found that restaurants were missing out on tracking their customer’s preferences as 40 percent of the top spenders had no personalization notes.  You’re missing out if you’re not tracking the preferences of your returning guests.

Everyone likes to feel as though he or she is special, and being able to provide more personalized service can go a long way towards keeping loyal guests coming back for more.  Examine their favorite dishes, specials or wine purchases and keep track of what is being ordered.  This can assist in not only providing that special touch but let you know what specials should be kept on the menu and so on.

Create a Thank You

Emails are a powerful tool that can be utilized for restaurant marketing.  A simple “thank you” email for guests after they have completed a previous reservation can result in another reservation booking.  It was found that 15 percent of guests will book again after the restaurant follows up with them.  Sending this type of email can also result in valuable feedback where they can let you know what your staff is doing right and what could be made better.

Asking for reviews that can be posted online for others to view is another valuable marketing tool.  Don’t limit this followup to just guests that have recently visited, but think about sending out an email telling your customers how much they are missed.  This can help to get your customers to return again and again.

Large Groups

It was found that 44 percent of those top five percent of guests that provide the 20 percent of your revenue are often dining in large parties of eight or more people.  Encourage that in your marketing campaigns.  You can create special events that invite your loyal guests to bring their friends for a meal.  This is a bonus situation because you will be enticing back your loyal guests, but they will be bringing along friends that can ultimately be turned into loyal guests by following these tips.

Utilize Private Events

Loyal customers are often going to suggest that their family reunion or work holiday party be held at their favorite restaurant.  This is a perfect source of marketing information.  Keep track of those that have held private parties in the past with your establishment, and invite them to book with you again in the future.

This can be done on a seasonal basis, but don’t forget that often businesses hold meetings and other events at different times of the year.  You may also want to include your loyal customers into these types of marketing emails.  Birthdays, big milestones, and other family occasions can get your spaces booked.


Similar to tracking your customers’ preferences, you should also offer personalization to their visits.  Casinos offer complimentary items to their guests because it helps to keep them inside gambling and spending, and it brings them back in the future.  The same can be done by offering little freebies, such as a dessert on a special occasion.  These little perks do not have to amount to a lot off of the overall bill but are a huge investment in loyalty.

It can be easy to overlook your loyal guests when you are looking to bring in new guests, but it is certainly not in your best interest to do so.  Your loyal spenders already enjoy coming to your establishment, and with a little effort on your part, you can turn them into an excellent marketing tool.

Everyone wants to talk about how nice his or her recent experience was or how the staff remembered how much they liked that previous bottle of wine and suggested something similar that they might enjoy.  Harness this loyalty, and you’ll create a valuable source of revenue that will often return.