Hosting private events for your customers can be a great way to increase revenue and add a new “service” to your portfolio. It can also set you apart from your competition – if you offer private events and they don’t, it can be a great differentiator for your business!
Private events are a great way to boost business during the week (networking or post-work events) and during slower day parts (lunch or brunch parties). But before you start planning, there are a few questions you need to answer:
1. Is there a demand for private events at your business? Have people called and asked about private events? Do some of your favorite customers mention that they wish they could “rent the place” for the night?
2. Do you have the staff and budget to dedicate to managing private event reservations, logistics, catering and other special needs? Unless the private party is renting the entire space for the event, you’ll someone to handle the details of the private event while the rest of your business operates as usual.
3. Do you have a space that qualifies as private? A back room, patio, wine cellar or separate floor are great options for hosting private events. You want to make sure that your customers feel separate from the rest of your restaurant or bar.
If you can answer “yes” to all the questions above, great! Look at all the events you can plan at your restaurant, bar or cafe:
- Corporate events and business meetings
- Networking events and business seminars
- Wedding receptions and rehearsal dinners
- Fundraising events
- Holiday parties
- Graduation parties
- Family get-togethers and reunions
To plan these events, you’ll need to gather/document some information so that you have the answers for all the questions your customers might ask when planning their private event.
You may already have an events calendar marked with holidays, conventions in town, major sporting events, concerts, and local festivals. This will help you schedule and plan accordingly; placing private events around these already profitable days and nights.
You’ll need to determine minimum food and beverage requirements per person, per event, per day of the week and per hour of the day. Look at your sales history to determine what days, nights and months are most profitable for your business. This will help you establish your price points and room rentals more accurately.
In addition, it is important to create partnerships throughout your neighborhood with organizations that bring in large groups of people (i.e. hotels, convention centers, business districts, professional networking groups and media outlets). You want to make sure they refer your business when someone needs a private dinner at the last minute!
Lastly, it is helpful to dedicate a section of your website to your private event offerings. This way, it’s easy for customers to consider you for their private event needs. Make sure to include:
- A downloadable PDF of basic guidelines
- Any applicable food and beverage minimums
- Contact information for inquiries
- Reviews from happy customers
- Professional photos of your space(s) – both bare and set for service.
- How many people the space(s) can accommodate, both for cocktail/standing events and for seated dinners.
- A/V capabilities and floor plan of each room
- Preferred vendors your guests might need (photographers, DJs, florists, AV, party rentals, etc.).
When in doubt, check out what your competition is/isn’t doing! It’s a good way to get a sense of what the “norm” is, and how you can stand out. Good luck with all of your private events!