Connecting customers with Chef Daniel Boulud’s Dinex Group

The Dinex Group is internationally acclaimed French chef and restaurateur Daniel Boulud’s vision of high-quality fine-dining and quick-service restaurants. The Dinex Group began with a single restaurant in New York City, Michelin-starred flagship Restaurant DANIEL in 1993, and grew to 16 national and international locations.

Chef Daniel’s approach includes producing custom events at each location to create experiences that appeal to foodies of all walks of life. His ability to unite his passion for food with his desire to create a unique and positive experience for both guests and employees drives the success of the Dinex Group. This requires connecting with everyone who walks through their doors as well as equipping his team with the tools they need to do their job.

Tami von Isakovics is the group’s Executive Director of Marketing. One of her first initiatives was to grow and segment their contact list, to get a clear understanding of who their guests are. Tami explains, “What we do for Bar Boulud is not the same as what we do for Boulud Sud or for db bistro or for DBGB. The messaging and content of what goes out to the public is very individualized and brand-centric.”

Contacts collected in just one year
Walk-Through Rate

Challenge: Slow email list growth

Having a celebrated chef at the helm is certainly the best marketing advantage a restaurant could ask for. It drives waves of customers…until another celebrity chef opens a new concept next door. In order to stay relevant and top-of-mind, chef-led restaurant groups such as the Dinex Group rely heavily on email marketing.

To run an effective email marketing campaign, you need a robust contact list. Hundreds of thousands of customers have dined at Chef Daniel’s restaurants, but newsletter sign-ups and comment cards were their only way of collecting contact info. Guests were interested to hear about the company’s news, but list growth was slow.

Going deeper than contact info was also a challenge. Profile details are key to creating targeted campaigns that perform well. The Dinex Group puts on regular events that appeal to specific targets. For example, a luxury caviar and wine-focused event with high-priced tickets at Restaurant DANIEL and whisky-tasting dinners at their more casual concept, db bistro.

“We have seen really great growth in our database since working with Adentro. We add several hundred new emails from guests
each month and we’re very happy with how it’s working.”

Tami von Isakovics, Executive Marketing Director, The Dinex Group

Solution: Automate customer contact collection

The Dinex Group’s marketing team needed a system that could capture the contact and demographic data from the thousands of customers coming through their doors. They needed a solution that was automated and could scale across all their locations.

Having worked with Adentro before, Tami knew WiFi marketing was the answer. But there was a problem: The Dinex Group didn’t offer free WiFi. The assumption was that free WiFi was wasted in fine dining restaurants. Tami suspected differently. “People expect WiFi now, and not having it is annoying. From a guest perspective, whether it’s fine dining or casual, we’re always looking to improve the experience. So this is just a natural progression of something that we should be offering our guests.”

Results: Rapid email list growth and better campaigns

Within the first month, the team saw thousands of new emails flooding in. “There were a lot of raised eyebrows at the number of contacts we collected. Previously our team would get a comment card back every once in awhile. That was maybe a handful a month per restaurant.”

To date, the Dinex Group has collected over 64,000 contacts and sees hundreds of new emails every month. What was once a near-impossible job now feels easy. Moving from slow-moving email collection via their website to an automated system allowed them to dedicate their time to developing marketing and events programs.  

But more importantly, this information has allowed the marketing team to conduct more creative and relevant email marketing campaigns, segmenting their audiences based on customer profiles. They’ve created separate lists for their locations, including a list for Bar Boulud to specifically highlight what is going on in the world of wine and share their weekly lineup of big-bottle offerings.

In fact, targeting the right audience has led to sold out events: “We can see the results. When we send out an email for a specific event, we usually see immediate action, with some events selling out two days after an email is sent.”

Signing up with Adentro has provided Tami and team with the ability to quickly grow their email list and know much more about who their customers are. As a result, their marketing program has become more creative, targeted and efficient, impressing both management and their guests. “It’s a small investment for getting very valuable information from our guests.”