How to get executives to dine at upmarket restaurants for lunch…

Today’s Throwback Thursday features two campaigns promoting fine dining restaurants in the Sydney CBD. These campaigns would still work today, 21+ years after they originally ran…

Fine dining restaurants located in 5 star hotels, are quite different to your everyday cafes and restaurants located on the high street or in food lanes. They have their own peculiarities, one of which is their location inside a hotel without street-front exposure.

They’re also expensive. Most are frequented for one of four reasons:

  • the chef’s (food/wine) reputation
  • celebrating a special occasion
  • the company/employer is picking up the tab
  • money is no object for the customer

Here are two case studies promoting fine dining restaurants to business executives:

  • The Astral Restaurant located at The Star Casino in Darling Harbour
  • The Galileo Restaurant located in the Observatory Hotel in Kent Street near The Rocks

The Astral Resturant was located in a separate top floor of the casino as part of The Endevour Room, the casino’s private gaming room. The casino is just too far to walk from the CBD for lunch – but it had free parking. The agency drew a map of streets west of George street down to Darling Harbour, with boundaries north and south in the CBD.

A list of senior executive contact details within the map boundaries was then rented and the names/job titles were qualified by phone. The mailpack is the size of a typical dinner plate and used the plate imagery within.

The mailpack had three incentives to visit and dine at The Astral:

  • $75 dining voucher for The Astral
  • $50 gaming voucher for The Endeavour Room
  • 1 month free membership to The Endeavour Room

So recipients could go for lunch or dinner, then get to gamble in the private VIP high roller room. Of course they probably weren’t aware that an entree cost about $75 and the minimum bet was $50, but the incentive worked its head off.

Front of mailpack
Rear of mailpack
Mailpack opened…
Letter, brochure, vouchers
Vouchers and membership card

The mailing generated a response of more than 25% and all respondents were put on a database for future mail/email communication. (email was just starting in the business world)

The Galileo Restaurant is also located on the fringe of the CBD. The agency hired people to walk ten minutes from the restaurant towards the city centre and create a map of the catchment area. Staff walked the floors of each building and built a list of senior executives for each company in the catchment area. A list of senior executives in North Sydney was also rented to so a split-run test could be conducted.

The mailing is an A3 piece of parchment card stock, folded into thirds and sealed with a black tape. It unfolds into a food art poster. There is an invitation with an excellent incentive:

  • Free lunch for two people – three courses plus coffee
  • The recipient can bring a guest along and enjoy lunch together

There is a reservation card to hand in when the respondent arrives at the restaurant. It captures the recipient’s name and their guest’s details. This doubled the size of the database and gave the restaurant a reference point for a ofllow-up mailing. This also generated more than 24% response rate. Local executives responded more than North Sydney executives, which was expected.

Front of envelope
Rear of envelope
Envelope folds open into an A3 poster
Reservation form, letter and menu

More importantly the staff offered the lunch guests a backroom tour of the hotel. While showing the guests around the inner sanctum, the hotel staff asked for the contact details of the person who books accommodation and events at the guest’s company. So the hotel built three databases – restaurant, accommodation and events.

Both these mailings would work today – the only difference is the reply device would most likely be a personalised landing page (PURL) supported by a confirmation email and/or SMS.

All this talk of fine dining is making me hungry. Where are last night’s leftovers?


  1. Thanks Malcolm! Great couple of case studies and interesting that the agency took the time to put in some old fashioned legwork and research. Takes me back to the time I was a frequent CBD luncher 🙂

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