Everyone loves a great meal, but to help really stand out, consider showcasing experiences that are memorable beyond the perfect plate. According to a recent survey, 75% of diners would pay more for a unique dining experience.

Experiential dining provides a multi-sensory occasion that will linger in the memories of all who partake — one they'll continue to rave about and revisit.

Throw a Theme

More than 80% of consumers want a surprising menu or theme. The more creative, the more you increase the possibility of attracting a brand-new client base with each niche you embrace. Plus, those attending a successful theme night will be intrigued to see what's coming next.

Holiday movies are a great place to start: imagine a prix fixe dinner based on “Home Alone,” complete with a costume contest and selfie corner. Ensure all the senses are covered, from appropriate decor to music.

Team Up

Partnering with other local businesses not only offers abstract pairings outside of the food realm (hello, unique!), but you gain the added benefit of cross-promotion. That means double the exposure — and double the client base.

Bring in a florist for small bites and wreath-making. Join forces with the neighborhood record store for a vintage vinyl pop-up sale, complete with cocktails and a DJ. Of course, elevated food and beverage pairings are still always a solid bet. Invite your local distillery for Seafood and Spirits, pairing craft cocktails with a coursed-out seafood menu. Floral gin, for example, complements delicate, sweet scallops. Bay Winds® Hokkaido Sea Scallops are sashimi grade, wild-caught, and processed day-of, so you know your guests can expect the best.

Keep It Classy

There's no better way to engage your patrons than with hands-on classes. Have your bartenders put on a couples’ cocktail-making class, perfect for a dressy date night. Or provide parents with children the opportunity to celebrate together as a family. Offer pre-made dough, all the fixins, and let families cut out cookies and decorate together.

Meat lovers will appreciate learning preparation techniques, from butchering to grilling. Conscious guests will appreciate Braveheart Beef® not only for its quality, but also because of its ranch to table sourcing story. Performance’s exclusive PathProven® DNA tracing technology also links the animal to each cut of meat. Whole loins and lesser known cuts are also available — perfect for those teachable opportunities.

And don't forget to send them home with a goodie bag, so you're on their mind long after they've left. Offer a discount on their next class to ensure they come back for more!

Show Love to Loyalty

Loyalty members spend more on average than a new visitor (a whopping 67% more, according to recent research). Reward your biggest supporters with a gift that goes beyond the punch card. Experiential rewards are preferred by more than 80% of millennials over transaction-based deals.

Shift your loyalty program into more of a membership, with exclusive early access to pop-up markets or early bird ticket sales to special events — with added-on VIP perks of course. Amp up the exclusivity to include behind-the-scenes access, making guests feel even more special. Organize a tour followed by a private chef's table dinner and discussion. Be creative — and generous. Remember, it costs five to 25 times as much to acquire a new customer as it does to drive repeat business. Keep your loyal guests happy, and you'll give the gift that keeps on giving.

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