Hosting a Successful Event at Your Restaurant
Restaurant buffet line with food and people

Written by Lance Redditt

January 17, 2022

Does the thought of offering to host an event, such as a holiday party or charity event, at your restaurant send your stress meter through the roof? Or, maybe you currently do hold events, either for your restaurant or on behalf of guests, but you’re considering calling it quits due to the headache and challenges involved. If this sounds like you, then keep reading. 

Yes, events are a commitment no matter how you look at them; however, the benefits are also sizable. As far as the planning and hosting go, there are several simple tips that can help you create a much more effective and stress-free event experience for both you and your guests. Dare we say, that by the end of this you may even be excited to hold events of your own…

Realizing the Benefits

There are some major benefits that can result from hosting events at your restaurant. However, realistically you’re probably thinking…sure there are benefits but is it worth the stress and commitment. Maybe you’re thinking that you don’t have sufficient staffing (after all everybody is short right now), or you don’t have the proper space or one that is set aside specifically for events, or maybe you just don’t want to deal with the organization of planning an event. But before you say no, consider what positive effects holding events can have for you and your business.  

Events have the potential of being a major revenue booster if done correctly. Think about these numbers for a minute. An event organization software company, called Gather, found that 3.7 was the average party size at a full-service restaurant, and the average amount spent was between $100 and $500. Now this sounds like a decent amount, right? However, consider the fact that hosting private events could earn you $2,500, or 20 times the amount you could bring in on a normal meal ticket. That is substantial revenue! 

Not only are higher profits possible, but you have a stronger guarantee on those earnings as generally there is a 10-50% deposit put down by the guest up to a month before the special event. Along with increased and guaranteed earnings, you also have the perfect opportunity to reach new potential customers. Think about it. You could be opening your doors to hundreds of new customers who have simply come as event guests, but end up leaving as returning customers thanks to the experience you provided. 

Overcoming the Challenges

Okay, so there are definite benefits to holding events as a restaurant owner. However, how do you go about hosting a successful and stress-free event? These 8 simple tips will help get you started:

Set Clear Goals

Make sure you have a game plan before beginning the planning process of an event by gathering all of the necessary details. Especially make sure you know the guest count and parameters of the event. Set SMART goals–Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. 

Check for Conflicts

No one wants to have an amazing event planned only to realize it falls on the same day as the Super Bowl. Make sure there aren’t any major events that could interfere, and consider the event time. For example, will it coincide with rush hour traffic, making it harder for guests to travel and park?

Determine the Budget

Make sure you and your client are on the same page as to their total budget. Likely the majority of their budget will be designated for food and beverage expenses. However, it’s possible your guest is planning to use part of their budget for other expenses such as renting equipment, sending out invites, etc. With this in mind, consider the benefit of having certain equipment available for your guests at the restaurant, this way you free up more of their budget to go towards their meal expenses (aka benefitting you).  

Keep it Simple

It’s always a good idea to start off by building some basic event package options for your clients to choose from. This helps give them a starting point by offering some general direction. Then, of course, you can always customize the package from there to fit their specific needs. 

Have Adequate Publicity

What’s a party without the guests? Make sure your event is both appropriately and thoroughly advertised through the correct avenues to reach the intended audience. Whether that’s getting your event promoted in local listings, putting up flyers, or sending out invitations, make sure you get the word out.

Stay Organized

Staying organized is key to running a successful event. Rather than trying to take haphazard notes on post-its or old receipts that you hope will make it back into your event book (wherever that went), consider using event management software. There are plenty of options out there with one that is sure to meet your needs. This is a great way to help relieve the stress of planning out and remembering all those nitty-gritty details and can serve to keep everyone up to date and in the loop. This way you can offer a seamless, relaxing experience for both your staff and guests (and ultimately yourself). 

Plan a Strategic Menu

Make sure you stick with what your restaurant is known for. Give the people what they want. Don’t try to overcomplicate the menu or experiment with special menu items, as this is likely going to slow down your service rate and lead to subpar quality. Also, make sure you are aware of any dietary needs of your guests upfront.

Stand Out

Events offer the perfect opportunity to turn first-time attendees into returning customers.  Ensure that the guests coming for an event leave knowing what makes your restaurant special. Make sure to include those extra details that will really allow for a memorable guest experience.

Hopefully, by now you’re starting to reconsider the idea of hosting a restaurant event. They offer the perfect opportunity to boost your revenue, bring in new customers, and by following a few simple steps, you can host events with minimal stress to yourself and your guests!  

Be sure to also find a representative near you to help make sure you are fully equipped to host your upcoming events!

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