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Tock’s Outdoor Winter Dining Ideas: Embrace the Chill

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By Tock Staff

Installing igloos on an empty patio or rooftop terrace can grow off-season revenue and create a special offering for guests.

Outdoor tables on a patio, sidewalk, or rooftop can seriously boost a restaurant’s bottom line. After all, more seating mean more opportunities to drive revenue. But harsh weather can make those spaces unusable, cutting into sales during some of the slowest months.

To generate revenue from outdoor spaces year-round, hospitality businesses are getting creative with cozy igloos and unique experiences that make wintry weather a selling point, not a downside. Here’s how two restaurants in cold climates have leveraged Tock to boost revenue with year-round outdoor dining.

Blue Heron Brewery & Event Center

Located on the site of a former golf club in Medina, Ohio, the gorgeous views at Blue Heron Brewery & Event Center are just as much of a draw as the creative comfort-food menu and 16-draft beer list. Rather than lose 30 patio seats for months each winter, executive chef-owner Ben Erjavec and his team installed transparent igloos over outdoor tables. The igloos keep guests warm and protected from the elements during service and maintain patio revenue through winter. Blue Heron needed a simple, easy way to get their igloo experience in front of guests and manage bookings.

Challenge

Market and manage the winter igloo experience successfully.

Tock Solution

“Tock makes promoting and selling our igloo experience easy,” Erjavec says. “The customer’s ability to prepay online with a credit card has diminished no-shows.” With Tock’s signature prepayment option, guests can put down a deposit that’s applied to the bill during their visit.

Blue Heron’s Tock page also functions as a one-stop shop for the restaurant’s bookings, from indoor tables to holiday events. “By having all of our experiences and events on one page, Tock helps guests engage with a range of opportunities to dine or be entertained by what we provide,” Erjavec says. “A guest making a reservation for dinner will also see our upcoming St. Patrick’s Day igloo party, murder mystery dinner, and Easter brunch offerings.” Getting upcoming events in front of guests helps drive advance bookings, boosting cash flow and helping to sell out special events.

Results

  • Up-front payments reduce no-shows and prevent lost revenue
  • Offering multiple experiences on a single booking page promotes advance sales

Pier 500

All summer long, boaters, bikers, and travelers flock to Pier 500 in Hudson, Wisconsin for chef-driven dining on the scenic St. Croix River. But when warm weather disappears, the crowds do, too.

“Hudson is very tourist dependent, and winter months just don’t bring in the same clientele. We rely on our locals in the winter,” says manager Erik Santo. “Making something special and unique that will get the guest thinking ‘Pier 500’ is important to us.” To create an exciting experience that would attract local guests all winter long, Pier 500 installed igloos furnished with comfy couches and portable heaters. Unfortunately, OpenTable didn’t allow them to offer igloos at the specific times needed.

Challenge

Manage special experiences like igloo bookings alongside everyday reservations.

Tock Solution

Pier 500 still used OpenTable to manage reservations when the restaurant first launched its igloo experience. However, OpenTable couldn’t provide the ability to offer certain time slots for the igloo bookings. This lack of flexibility and customization led the restaurant to manage igloo reservations by hand, which was inconvenient for guests and made more work for front-of-house staff.

“Tock has been critical to our guest experience and our igloo dining,” says Santo. “Being able to book certain time slots is something OpenTable was unable to provide. When we switched to Tock, our guests could book online and we didn’t need to keep a manual log of reservations.”

Now, guests can easily book a table in the dining room or reserve an igloo on the restaurant’s Tock page without staff assistance. Front-of-house staff can easily create and manage experiences and access guest information, sales reports, and other key information from the platform’s dashboard with a few clicks. Thanks to the success of Pier 500’s igloos, Santo hopes to expand the experiences offered on the platform to the rest of the year.

Results

  • Ability to reserve winter experiences online cuts down on admin time for staff and provides a smoother booking process for guests
  • All-in-one platform makes reporting more efficient and puts data at staff’s fingertips

Request a demo to learn more about switching to Tock. If you’re already a customer, talk to hospitality about launching an experience today.

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