Beacons to supercharge your bar & restaurant marketing strategy
Last Updated:  December 1, 2021
Editor’s Note: As we navigate through the pandemic, re-opening restaurants is complicated. If your restaurant has an app, you can use beacons to trigger a contactless ordering experience. However, if you don’t have one, use menu QR Codes, which do not require an app. Diners can scan these QR Codes to view the digital menu on their smartphones.
Location-based marketing that promised to leverage online platforms to promote physical restaurants and bars, began with “check-ins”. It all started with Foursquare giving the initial kick. Quickly catching the fire was Facebook Places, Google Places, Yelp and more. Back then it was truly a cool idea for marketers and owners to know who is in their restaurant and reward them accordingly. But honestly, it never took off.
2014 saw beacon-based proximity marketing taking baby steps into the hospitality industry. Three years back, only the big fishes in the industry like Starwood hotels, The Marriott and James Hotels were adopting beacons to deliver an engaging experience to their guests. But in 2017, with the explosion of supply of beacons, the price has significantly lowered and functionality has gone up to the point where they are within reach for even small restaurants.
How do beacons work in restaurants?
Beacons are small battery-powered devices that use Bluetooth low energy signals to connect with other smart devices. When a Bluetooth-enabled device such as a smartphone or tablet comes in the range of a beacon, the two devices can communicate.
Customers need a compatible app like NearBee or a brand app by the restaurant or bar. Once in the proximity of a beacon, these smartphones receive push notifications about deals, offers and more. You can now build your own app without any coding with our DIY app builder platform in partnership with Shoutem.
Beacons can help restaurants have meaningful interactions with their customers with enhanced features such as order-ahead, digital scavenger hunts and real-time analytics. We wrote about few of them in a blog post.
With beacons, make the dining experience a little more ENGAGING, and a lot more MEMORABLE
If you spend a few hours at your favourite bar or restaurant, you would have certainly experienced being exposed to dozens of advertisements but not noticing them. Things such as – a coaster with an energy drink logo, a neon sign for a liquor brand, a beer brand’s schedule of upcoming football games and much more. Like banner blindness in the real world, people barely register the brands they’ve seen, much less engage with them. But that’s changing with beacons!
If you are following beacon use cases for a while, you would have seen various use cases of Bluetooth beacons in retail, but restaurants use this technology in a different way to engage guests and increase repeat visits –
1. Marketing messaging
The obvious benefit to using this technology is its ability to push out coupons, deals and marketing messages. Imagine a group of friends moving around on the streets trying to decide where to have lunch and all of a sudden, one of them is alerted to an offer of an unlimited cold drink with any purchase at your restaurant?
This kind of interaction might obviously influence their decision to visit your restaurant. This value addition is critical for you when you’re looking to rise above the competition in a highly crowded space.
Every restaurant owner including you loves a loyal customer and beacons make it easier to reward them. You could create a special menu or a secret dish for your loyal customer based on his previous orders and selections. When they enter your restaurant, push a notification to them letting them know what’s special on the menu that they would love.
3. Let your customers know how crowded the restaurant is before they arrive
Keeping customers informed about how busy your restaurant is at a particular time is one way of cutting down on the time they need to wait. Deploying beacons around your restaurant will, in turn, provide real-time information on how many people are actually dining inside at a given point in time.
You could also leverage the beacon to notify your customers with an estimate of the restaurant traffic on an hourly basis based on the learning from previous days.
When it comes to winning over a customer, it’s not a bad idea to play with dynamic pricing. You could deliver incentive pricing to someone who’s never been to your restaurant. Push a notification to them about this exclusive incentive pricing.
Not just for new customers, but you could also notify loyal customers about their 7th free sandwich!
One of the challenges in a dining experience is waiting for the bill. What if you could just let your diners pay online? Beacons can allow them to pay their bill right from their phones by directing them to a secure restaurant-branded microsite that collects their payment method.
A lot of studies reveal that it’s much more convenient for customers to go up and pay rather than waiting for the bill. Why not just smoothen the experience?
There are loads of examples of restaurants and bars that are using beacons in their marketing strategy to enhance the experience and hence boost sales.
Got an inspiration for your restaurant marketing strategy? Planning a beacon pilot? Take a look at Beaconstac, that includes everything you need to get started. Using Beaconstac you can set up your own campaign, without a developer’s help!
Monika Adarsh is the Director of Inbound Marketing at Beaconstac where her primary job is to help users find answers to anything related to QR Codes. She works closely with customers to understand QR Code usage trends and build a framework for successful QR Code campaigns. She enjoys documenting her learnings about the QR Code market as posts and playbooks. She also anchors a podcast to uncover ways of using QR Codes in DTC/CPG brands. In her free time, she loves gardening and decorating spaces.