These days, private events and group dining account for up to 30% of a restaurant’s revenue. Whether you’re an independent eatery or part of a large restaurant group, you’ve got the potential to host private events to bring in some extra revenue — and grow your customer base. Not sure where to begin? Below, we break down five easy ways to set up your restaurant’s events program for success.
Determine the best spots for events
Don’t have a private banquet room in your restaurant? That doesn’t mean your restaurant can’t host events. Plenty of venues offer semi-private spaces or buyouts to accommodate a variety of parties. In fact, semi-private spaces produce largely the same results as a room with four walls and a door. Adding a simple curtain or divider can instantly transform a corner of your eatery into an intimate event area. You can also leverage any spaces that are already separate from your main dining room, such as an outdoor patio, backyard space, wine cellar, or rooftop.
Add special decor touches
Once you establish a great event area, you want people to be able to picture their party at your restaurant. One way to do that is by adding decor and special touches that turn a “room” into a “venue,” such as fresh flowers, string lights, and the appropriate furnishings. If your space is better for mingling and cocktail events, add some high-top tables with simple white tablecloths. If you’ve got room for some tables, go ahead and set up what a seated dinner party would look like. The visual appeal helps increase the chance that someone doing a walkthrough will end up deciding to book with you. Once you’ve added those special touches to your event space, you can also take a few professional-looking photos and put them on your website and social media accounts.
Consider an event management software
Adding a private events program can be a great revenue booster for your restaurant. But it also means additional coordination and admin tasks, plus enough staff members for parties during open hours. Luckily, event management software can keep processes streamlined, make receiving and responding to leads a breeze, and help ensure nothing falls through the cracks. The best event management platforms are cloud-based (so you can access event info from anywhere), offer reporting features, and keep your client’s financial information secure.
Build food and drink packages
Restaurants have the advantage of talented chefs and bartenders already working onsite. These are the team members you’ll want to work with to come up with a few menu packagesfor events, from passed apps and multi-course meals to wine pairings and signature cocktails. It’s easier on both you and your staff to have specified event menus instead of offering guests your regular menu. Narrowing down the options makes it easier to plan for larger parties (since everyone should be served each dish at the same time), and makes it more feasible to deal with inevitable special requests in a timely manner.
Get the word out
What good is a new events program if no one knows about it? Once you’ve decided to start hosting events, it’s a good idea to add an events page or section to your website. This way people checking out your restaurant online can learn more about your offerings, see photos of your space and, ideally, submit an inquiry right then and there, if your site has a lead form. You can also announce the launch on your company’s social media accounts, and add an information sheet in check presenters to potentially turn diners into event customers.
Caroline Cox is the content marketing manager for Gather, the leading event management software platform. She spends her time crafting blogs, thought leadership pieces, case studies, social media content and more, helping empower restaurants and other event venues to streamline their planning process and grow their events programs with success. Learn more about Gather and request a live tour at gatherhere.com.