First-Ever Newport Beach Dine Pass Drives Thousands of Foodies to Local Restaurants to Keep Industry Afloat
The Governor of California declared a State of Emergency on March 4, 2020* due to the COVID-19 pandemic and soon after ordered a shut down across the Golden State.
During the spring and summer, mandates on restaurant operation were changing frequently and in-room dining was ordered to shut down service twice. Several restaurants quickly pivoted to curbside pick-up, delivery or take-out only to stay afloat, other restauranteurs experienced losses over profits and shuttered all together.
Tourism in the City of Newport Beach is one of top three economic drivers and its 450+ dining establishments are critical to a thriving tourism industry. Newport Beach & Company is the destination’s marketing agency and umbrella organization for five community-based marketing business units including Dine Newport Beach, which is the partnership between the Newport Beach Restaurant Association (NBRA) and Newport Beach & Company.
Overseeing the year-round programming for Dine Newport Beach, the Newport Beach & Company team quickly planned and executed an engaging and successful month-long culinary program: Newport Beach Restaurant Month Eat, Drink, Win to help save restaurants in the community.
Restaurants in Newport Beach pivoted, reinvented and renewed with every new mandate.
With that in mind, the NBRA still requested a program to bring diners to restaurants. Resounding feedback from restauranteurs echoed that a “normal” restaurant week-style program, while much desired to attract customers, was simply not in the cards. The restaurants simply did not have the bandwidth nor financial means to create new prix fixe menus that are standard to restaurant week events. Plus, a one- or two-week campaign was deemed too short under these circumstances and the team was advised that there needed to be no participation fee to join.
Partnering with Bandwango, Newport Beach & Company inked a contract on July 17, 2020 with the goal of creating a Restaurant Month Dine Pass in September and Newport Beach Restaurant Month Eat, Drink, Win was soon launched.
Each restauranteur had three choices to participate in the complimentary program:
Contribute a gift card at any price
Provide an offer
Opt only to participate as a “check-in” location
From the consumer’s perspective, here’s how the Dine Pass worked:
Diners signed up and instantly received their exclusive Dine Pass via text and email.
Diners were encouraged to save their Dine Pass on their phone’s home screen for easy one-tap access or continued to use online to remove any barrier of entry.
A list of participating restaurants and their offers were listed by neighborhood.
Diners were instructed to arrive at their dining destination and simply press the check-in button and show their Dine Pass to redeem the offer.
Each check-in automatically entered diners to win prizes including daily restaurant gift cards and weekly grand prize getaways worth over $3,000 each.
Guests were always reminded of safety and comfort, the Dine Pass worked for all the ways guests preferred to dine: outdoors, grab-and-go or for take-out.
The Newport Beach & Company team signed up 70 restaurant partners and rallied the entire hospitality community. The weekly grand prize giveaways provided a spotlight for all hospitality businesses beyond dining: hotels and resorts, shopping, recreational partners such as boating, standup paddle boarding and biking operators.
With the program infrastructure in place, would the team entice the public to actually sign up and use the Dine Pass?
The launch date for the pass was set for September, which meant both Newport Beach & Company and Bandwango teams had about a month and a half to onboard merchants, build out pass, create multi-media marketing and media assets, collateral and plan and execute PR and social media programming.
Drive and Dine Media Event
Held on Aug. 27 at the Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina, 90 media, civic and hospitality leaders and foodies were greeted by a red carpet rolled out for their cars. At the drive-in check-in location, guests were given a sealed culinary gift box with their own Dine Newport Beach-branded placemat, silverware, napkins, beverages and collateral to ensure a no touch and safe dining experience. Parking attendants lined the cars in front of a stage and screen and were instructed to tune-in using their radios. As guests stayed in their cars, an entertaining program was in store: series of speakers, live Q&A with chefs, while roller-skating servers (in PPE) delivered a three-course tasting from six local restaurants to attendees. For each participating restaurant, the team created six expertly filmed mini “Chef’s Table” inspired videos to share the heartfelt back stories of each restaurant and were then aired during their corresponding tasting times. The evening ended with skaters putting on a surprise flash mob dance to top off the experience. The entire night was touchless at every point of the evening as safety was the number one priority.
The out-of-the box creative and fun event was deemed a resounding success by attendees, restauranteurs and community and earned over 150+ tags on Instagram that evening.
The campaign was housed on the @DineNewportBeach social accounts and here are the results by numbers:
The Newport Beach & Company team actively engaged media to promote Restaurant Month in advance and secured coverage all month long. Between the media event and pitching, outreach earned 56 placements and more than 43,908,715 impressions.
Check out some of the media coverage at these links:
Web and E-Newsletters
Securing a Partnership with OpenTable
OpenTable signed on and the team secured e-blasts, web page takeovers, social posts and other exposure opportunities. This partnership allowed Newport Beach & Company to reach OpenTable diners and educate them on the initiative.
Campaign Toolkit and Assets for Restaurants
The team developed and distributed a participating restaurant toolkit, a turnkey of assets designed to promote Restaurant Month and the Dine Pass. Included in the kit was ready-made social media posts and stories templates, printable employee one-sheet for staff education and a printable sign for POS area with a QR code to sign up for the pass.
The team also printed 50 campaign banners and were delivered to restaurants in prominent locations to hang on their exteriors for additional exposure.
Before the campaign even began, consumers clearly had an appetite for Newport Beach Restaurant Month.
There were over 2,454 sign-ups within the first week of promotion.
Working with Bandwango on a sign-up goal number using comparable destination restaurant weeks, the team’s goal was 1,000 Dine Pass sign-ups. Newport Beach & Company is pleased to announce, when the campaign wrapped on September 30, 2020, there were nearly 4,500 signups.
Here is the total campaign by numbers:
Goal Percentage for Consumer Sign Ups
450%+ of goal
Earned Media Impressions
Total Social Impressions
Digital Display Ad Impressions
Digital Display Ad Clicks
Average Time on Site
Landing Page Sessions
4 grand prizes