As Valentine’s Day 2009 approaches, outlets must implement innovative, cost-efficient ideas to attract business and maximise their romantic returns
Valentine’s Day celebrations are a big earner for F&B outlets across the world, including the Middle East, which boasts a large community of tourists and ex-pats all of whom are keen to eat out on February 14.
“Valentine’s Day is one of the biggest celebrations for the ex-pats living in the UAE,” confirmed Kempinski Mall of the Emirates food and beverage manager Gerrit Thiebes.
The day also offers outlets a prime opportunity to be creative, pointed out Landmark Group assistant marketing manager — food division Marizel Salvador.
“There is ample opportunity to try out new menus, promotions and serving methods, and hopefully attract some returning customers — it is an opportunity to offer guests something special”, Salvador added.
Of course, for the numerous F&B outlets housed in hotels across the region, the day also provides an excellent opportunity to cross-sell, with hotels offering a variety of Valentine’s packages involving bed and breakfast, dinner and even special gifts.
Le Méridien Al Aqah Beach Resort director of food and beverage Gian Raffaelle Sabbatucci explained that the beach-front hotel had gone for the value-added approach this year. “We’ve devised a package that includes everything — a red rose; welcome drinks; a spa bath in the room; a secluded candle-lit dinner on the resort’s private beach; and in the morning, a ‘bubbly breakfast’ delivered to your door.”
This year will see customers seeking out the most inventive packages and value-for-money options, predicted Kempinski’s Thiebes, as the region starts to feel the pinch of the current global financial situation.
However the consumer demand for top value celebration options can work in a property’s favour, Thiebes continued.
“We have designed some great packages for our guests to take advantage of this year and although the turnover may not be as high as previous years, we are sure that through attractive promotions and value-added services we will continue to attract a high level of business,” he said.
Le Méridien’s Sabbatucci went so far as to say that the economic crisis might actually work in favour of the region’s outlets. “Everyone will be looking fr good-value deals and there will be less people travelling abroad, therefore great demand for local offers,” he explained.
Radisson SAS Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek director of marketing and communications Stephanie AbouJaoude added: “Most people make a point of doing something special on such an occasion, and that won’t change.”
According to many F&B professionals, the real challenge presented by Valentine’s Day is ensuring their outlet stands out in the crowd.
Kempinski’s Thiebes pointed out that partnerships with local businesses could prove key to offering something unique.
“With this year’s package…ladies will receive magnificent pearl earrings from Dhamani, the famous jewellery shop in Mall of the Emirates, ” he revealed.
Meanwhile the Radisson will offer a unique dinner option on its traditional Arabian boat-restaurant, the Al Mansour Dhow.
“Just play to your strengths,” said AbouJaoude.
How to create the perfect Valentine’s ambience
1 Give the customer a gift
“The secret is to focus on the customers, giving them plenty options to choose from.
“With the busy life in Dubai it’s always convenient to offer a gift included in the valentine offer so that busy men in the city can make sure they have a nice present for that special someone and not have to worry about searching for a gift. Ultimately, it’s best to think outside the chocolate box!”
Gerrit Thiebes, food and beverage manager, Kempinski Mall of the Emirates
2 Run with the romantic theme
“All aspects of the restaurant have to be in keeping with the theme of the evening. Proper lighting, soft background music, stylish décor and a specially-created set menu off-set by attentive yet unobtrusive service creates the perfect romantic ambience.”
Marizel Salvador, assistant marketing manager — food division, Landmark Group
3 Create a relaxing environment
“The secret to a good a Valentine’s ambience is creating a relaxed and romantic space where all the craziness and stress can be forgotten, in a beautiful place with the one you love.”
Gian Raffaelle Sabbatucci, director of food and beverage, Le Méridien Al Aqah Beach Resort
4 Customise the experience
“The key is to make the evening as personal, individual and as special as possible.”
Stephanie AbouJaoude, director of marketing and communications, Radisson SAS Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek