2017 Solar Eclipse: Hotel & Restaurant Manager Tips

August 15, 2017 by Matt Thompson
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On Monday, August 21st, thousands upon thousands of people are going to be in prime eclipse viewing spots to experience the literally once in a lifetime occurrence. While this is an exciting event on its own, it is even more exciting to restaurants and hotels that are in central eclipse viewing locations.

People are willing to drive long distances to get to a prime viewing area and need a place to stay while they are waiting for the big moment. Likewise, restaurants are becoming a hot spot to grab a bite before moving outside to watch. When people are trying to find the best place to watch the eclipse, you want them to choose your establishment. Here are some tips to attract crowds to your hotel or restaurant.

Advice for Hotels

First and foremost, the most important thing you need to do as a hotel is provide the solar eclipse viewing glasses. Without these special specs, viewing the eclipse is dangerous. Include a pair of solar eclipse glasses for every guest that stays in your hotel. It is also a good idea to create a solar eclipse guide to hand out to guests. Include some history of the solar eclipse, the science behind it as well as a map for the best places in the area to view the eclipse.

Now you want to think about the rooms you have available in your hotel. Are there any with large windows that would provide a great viewing spot for where the eclipse is going to pass your location? If so, create a "special offer" for these rooms. You do not necessarily have to reduce your rates for these rooms (in fact, you may be able to get away with charging more), but you can advertise the convenience of watching the eclipse from their room. As a perk, include some solar eclipse swag as a complementary feature. Or offer meal vouchers to keep your guests well fed and happy during their solar eclipse stay.

As hotels in prime viewing locations are already being booked, it is time to advertise that you not only have rooms available, but that you are giving one night only room discounts. This will allow you to fill your hotel with people that may end up booking additional nights. Likewise, once they stay in your hotel, they will remember it is a great place to lodge. They are sure to come back for future trips.

If your hotel has roof access or if you have an outdoor restaurant or pool, you could consider throwing an eclipse viewing party for all guests with appetizer, beverages, music, and chairs to view the experience. Another idea to get people to your hotel for the eclipse event is to offer free or discounted transportation to prime viewing areas in your location.

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Advice for Restaurants

Just like with hotel owners, restaurant managers need to ensure they have plenty of complimentary solar eclipse glasses. There will inevitably be people who either don't have glasses or didn't know they needed them. Have a basket at the front for people to snag their specs and encourage everyone to get some for their safety.

Before you can start drawing people to your restaurant for the solar eclipse viewing, you need to decide what is your most attractive restaurant feature for this event. Do you have a stellar outdoor patio? Do you have enough lot space to create a picnic atmosphere for guests? Are you within walking distance to a park or other great viewing area? Whatever your selling point is for coming to your restaurant for the eclipse, you need to focus all of your efforts around that.

If you do have a great spot for viewing the eclipse, then it is time to throw a once-in-a-few-hundred-years watch party. Set the stage with solar eclipse themed decorations and hype up music. Consider rearranging your tables within the viewing space to provide the most visibility. If you do not have a great spot for viewing the eclipse, you need to make your restaurant the destination before and after. There will be a lot of people off work ready to witness the event. Create specials that entice people to fuel up for the eclipse or stop to discuss the experience with fellow viewers.

When you want people to attend your restaurant for the solar eclipse, going the extra mile will help set you apart from competition. Consider creating special eclipse-themed menu items that are fun and tasty. Advertise specials that will draw people in the door, such as eclipse happy hour pricing all day long and BOGO appetizers or entrees.

The solar eclipse is not only a once in the lifetime experience, it is also a huge opportunity for your restaurant or hotel. You will be able to take advantage of hundreds of extra patrons that are looking for a place to go during this occasion. Make sure your hotel or restaurant is the desired destination!

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Matt Thompson

Matt has let his lifelong passion of food and people lead him to 15 amazing years as a restaurant manager and another 9 years working as a Director with a major food service distributor. He has channeled this passion to help create and run ShiftNote. When he's not dominating the food service industry, he's spending time with his 4 children and cheering on the Tigers as a Mizzou Alumni.