Best Practices and up to the minute news on Customer Experience Management and Service Excellence

Guests Will Fall in Love With These 7 Unforgettable Valentine’s Experiences

From candles to rose petals, guests have seen it before. Make the most of love’s biggest day by serving something different.

It’s easy to get stuck in the same Valentine’s Day rut: preset menus plated alongside flowers and soft lighting has been the norm, and guests can get it anywhere – especially at home. It’s time to shake things up by providing guests the gift of experience.

Last Valentine’s Day, more than 3 in 10 Americans planned on giving “a gift of experience” over a typical gift item, and this experience-giving gift trend has steadily increased since 2021.

Often hotels sell romantic packages that include dinner, massages, and a bottle of champagne. Restaurants light candles and create preset menus offering lovey-dovey puns and heart-shaped decorations. The usual offerings are getting old, especially in an economy where every dollar counts.

Why not take Valentine’s Day a step further and plan some surprises that guests will remember forever?

Setting the stage for an experience is easier than it sounds, especially when facilities already have built-in amenities that can easily host a range of events. Restaurants and hotels alike can use their existing spaces and resources to provide guests with memorable Valentine’s Day experiences that will stand out among the rest.

  • Hire a dance instructor for the evening! From line dancing to ballroom, any style can bring couples closer and spice up the average evening. This can work in a large restaurant with floor space, or even in smaller restaurants with a front or back patio. Hotels can utilize spaces like conference rooms, pool decks, or recreation areas.
  • Host a competitive couples trivia night! This can work with themes like romantic film history or famous historical couples, or you can get creative and recreate a live dating or newlywed show (borrow format from the television classics). Don’t forget to include a prize for the winning couple, like a free future meal or one-night stay.
  • Send guests back in time with a vintage school dance! Rent a photo booth, provide free nibbles, and light up that disco ball for a love-themed night that offers fun and whimsy. Try sticking with an era that appeals to your main guest demographic, or when in doubt, turn to the 1980s for a festive soundtrack and colorful costumes.
  • Provide live musical or theatrical entertainment! From jazz quartets to magicians to classical vocalists, the possibilities are endless. Looking to entertain a strictly adult-only crowd? Go all out with a burlesque night. These professional entertainers know how to keep things exciting while making sure everyone, including singles, have a great time.
  • Organize a cooking class with a chef! Maybe this is an in-house staff member or someone hired from an outside company. Either way, couples love interacting while preparing different ingredients into a yummy meal. If there aren’t appropriate work stations for cooking, have guests prepare dishes and finish them off in the kitchen.
  • Create a secret hideaway and set up a speakeasy! This might seem like a big feat, but all it really entails is some strategically hung drapery, intimate lighting, a sexy menu and a secret code. Serve up off-the-menu food and drinks in an intimate space that makes guests feel like they’re in on a Valentine’s secret that no one else got access to.
  • Set up a craft fair or farmer’s market! Guests can shop, dine, and hang out all in one place. There are plenty of local farmers and artisans who would love to show off their products and create a fun atmosphere for guests to explore. This might take some research and planning, but once the space is established and times are provided, the possibilities are endless.

Valentine’s Day has always been an opportunity to boost sales. In 2023, the average American spent nearly $200 for Valentine’s Day, and total spending exceeded $25 billion. But this year, instead of taking for granted the natural rush of bookings, why not put your brand on the map with an out-of-the-box experience?

Use this busy season to stand out from the rest. With a little effort and a lot of enthusiasm, you could plan an event that fills the hearts of new and returning guests.

This holiday also provides an opportunity to convert new clients into loyal brand ambassadors. Who wouldn’t brag about their exotic Valentine’s Day at the hotel that gave dance classes, or the restaurant that transformed into a secret romantic speakeasy? Now is not the time to take reservations for granted. Instead, jump on a chance to bring excitement to your brand and produce organic word-of-mouth marketing that sparks more buzz than candles or roses ever could.