Chinese restaurants at luxury hotels are leveraging on new media channels to increase sales for their traditional Chinese New Year dinners. And the results are encouraging, as the Snake Year gives way to the auspicious Year of the Horse.
"We're more active on social media this year," said Teresa Koh, PR manager at Intercontinental Singapore, where dinner bookings for Chinese New Year have increased overall.
This Chinese New Year, the set menu prices at the Intercontinental's Man Fu Yuan restaurant have increased by approximately 10 per cent from last year largely due to higher labour costs as well as an increase in prices of certain seasonal delicacies and ingredients.
Yet, according to Ms Koh, "performance is definitely better this year, and we've seen bookings coming in earlier than compared to the previous year".
Man Fu Yuan is already seeing a commitment of 120 sets of $288++ per pax this year. Last year, most guests went for the lower price option of $188++ per pax set menu instead. Ms Koh attributes the sales increase to the hotel's higher marketing budget, which provided them with resources to hire an online social media specialist - a position that did not exist last year.
Despite reunion and New Year dinners being a traditional affair with majority of its clientele hailing from older demographics, "we are always trying to reach out to our clients in a non-traditional way - in a more interactive way", a spokesman from Conrad Centennial Singapore remarked.
Bookings at Conrad for this Chinese New Year are coming in much faster than last year. The hotel chain uses various strategies to reach out to a broader base of clients.
In addition to the chefs at Conrad's Golden Peony restaurant coming up with different items in each year's menu to suit the tastes of different guests, the marketing team also tries to reach out to clients via new communication platforms.
Besides online order forms and email signage publicity banners, there were more postings on Conrad's Facebook page this year simply because "everyone's on Facebook".
At Singapore Marriott Hotel, a simple incorporation to the international hotel chain's website has immediately improved bookings for the New Year's Eve dinners.
"We had the website last year but we didn't have the instant confirmations feature," said Joe Chua, senior marketing communications manager at Marriott. With the new feature, guests who go on the website can make a reservation online and Marriott's F&B reservation team will reply with a confirmation.
The hotel's website is highly-integrated with most marketing channels, which include daily newspapers, monthly magazines, social media platforms, collaterals and paper order forms.
Social media, specifically Facebook, is one component of Four Season's marketing strategy, but not the main component, Michelle Wan, director of public relations at the Four Seasons Hotel Singapore, said.
"There has been a growth in the number of followers in the social media space," said Ms Wan. "[But] in terms of our overall marketing effort, it's multi-pronged . . . it wouldn't be right to single out any of the channels."
As pre-determined by Facebook, the main demographics of the social network is in the 25-34 age group.
The more mature set - usually the decision-makers - are less likely to be on social media. But the Four Seasons cannot rule out any particular segment, said Ms Wan.
"I don't know if (the 25-34 age group) are the decision-makers . . . but they could be the ones who purchase takeaway goodies or corporate gifts."
Ultimately, guests are not swayed by promotions or marketing campaigns, said Ms Wan. They solely base next year's decisions by their experience this year.
Four Seasons received their first reservation on Feb 9 last year, after their guests had their reunion dinner at the Jiang-Nan Chun restaurant.