Running events at your restaurant is a surefire way to garner success quickly. You can use events as tools to reach your target audience better, boost profit, and invest in an overall marketing strategy. What’s not to love? These events can be anything from mic nights to charity events. There are so many event ideas for restaurant events out there. And if you are looking for the best ones, you’ve come to the right place.
Check out these incredible upcoming restaurant activities and events.
In this guide, we’ll provide you with all the framework you need to run an event of a lifetime. We’ll provide a solid definition, information on event benefits, and restaurant event ideas to steal and use as your own. Are you ready?
It is no secret that you can use events to propel your restaurant to new levels. The real juicy details are how you can use events to drive your restaurants to new levels. Think of this as your ultimate crash course. Restaurant success — here you come.
What Are Restaurant Events and How Do You Prepare?
Firstly, what are restaurant events? What is this all about? Simply put, restaurant events are events that restaurant owners put together to draw crowds. You could run a food-related event, like hosting a guest chef or special menus.
But you could also run a costume party or a dance night. You don’t need a correlation between your restaurant and event type. You hold these events in your restaurant, often selling tickets beforehand. The necessary preparation required varies depending on the event, but it fits into the following 4 stages as a whole.
1. Research and Reflect on Existing Data
First things first, research your ideal target audience and establish a budget. Analyze any existing customer data and run surveys to collect new data. This crucial event preparation stage ensures you attract the right people. Remember, the whole point of restaurant events is building brand awareness, hopefully leading to conversions.
You want to create events that appeal to your target audience. But you also want to attract people you actually want to convert into loyal customers.
2. Brainstorm Event Ideas
Next is the fun bit. With all this customer-related information in mind, brainstorm event ideas. Write everything down. Take your time with it. Think of it like vomiting your ideas onto a page. Try to get at least 30 different ideas down, and feel free to head online for inspiration.
3. Pick Your Event and Prepare
Next, pick your event idea and plan it. This will involve any necessary design preparations and marketing.
4. Run the Event
Finally, you run the event, evaluate the performance, and focus on converting guests into customers.
What Are the Benefits of Restaurant Events?
Everyone knows that event ideas attract customers. What are the other benefits of restaurant events? Why should you actually care about running events at your restaurant?
When embarking on a new marketing strategy, it helps to understand why you are even bothering. If you know the benefits, you can plan your strategy more effectively. It can also help motivate you and help your staff get on board with your goals. In this section, we’ll discuss the leading benefits of running a restaurant event.
Restaurant events are some of the best promotion ideas for restaurants. They promote your business in numerous ways. For instance, promote your business by encouraging word-of-mouth marketing. When people have positive experiences, they are more likely to talk. And when they talk positively, your business gets an organic promotion.
Promoting something is just a recommendation. It can come from the business — advertising products or services to an audience you feel is appropriate. Or it can come from past customers or event guests, a more authentic method of promotion. Events are a brilliant way to prod that bear and get the ball rolling. They initiate a chain of reactions that positively benefit your business in the future. A bit of promotion goes a long way, especially in the hospitality industry.
2. Increase Brand Awareness
Another massive benefit of restaurant events is an increase in brand awareness. Brand awareness closely links to promotion, but it increases your business knowledge instead of actively recommending it. It’s a bit like waving and saying, “Hey, we exist, so check us out.”
Events are one of the best ways to increase brand awareness. It attracts more people to your restaurant who would only visit for food with others. It gives people a reason to discuss your restaurant and uses novelty to push brand awareness.
Brand awareness organically occurs as people discuss your event. However, it also appears as you market and advertise your restaurant event. It is an excellent byproduct of using your restaurant to run fun events and activities. And it is one of the most valuable benefits when looking to boost your business in the long term.
3. They Boost Profit
Events boost profit in a sharp spike. Consider the profit you can get from ticket sales and selling event refreshments. You could easily make upwards of $5,000 in a single night, which is nothing to scoff at.
The best thing about restaurant event running is that you are avoiding the highest cost of all - venue hire. This means you get a considerable profit. Your only overhead costs are staffing and product costs. Plus, anything necessary for the event, like speaker fees if you run a seminar or talk.
A sharp boost in profit is ideal when combatting low seasons in the hospitality industry. For instance, the period before or after Valentine’s Day. Look at your annual calendar and see where you could benefit from a financial boost.
4. They Generate Excitement and Novelty
Lastly, a massive benefit of restaurant events is that they generate excitement and novelty. What’s not to love about this? Your restaurant symbolizes fun and excitement, building positive associations for future customers. This helps with everything from marketing and brand awareness to customer loyalty. A good event is basically a golden ticket for a restaurant.
Similarly, events can provide excitement and novelty for staff. Restaurants have one of the highest turnover rates of all industries. And by offering events, you break up the monotony of standard shifts.
To get the full benefit of events for staff, you need to be an effective manager. This means you thrive under pressure and can lead as a positive and motivating leader. Staff thrives under these conditions, and you can encourage involvement in all stages to channel staff creativity.
Top 10 Ideas for Restaurant Events
Okay, are you feeling like a restaurant event expert? Good for you. You are now ready to get to the practical stage. Remember event budgeting and your target audience — as we mentioned earlier. These two factors are essential deciders and help you narrow your options to events that work for your business.
These are 10 ideas you can steal or adapt as you wish. Scan through and see if any suits your business and its requirements.
1. A Guest Chef
A guest chef is a brilliant idea if you want to play on an event’s novelty and celebrity element. Getting a guest chef brings that ‘A-lister’ vibe. And you’ll be attracting hospitality fans, not just regular guests. You are more likely to attract people from outside your area, too. Remember that your guest chef hiring costs could be a steep upfront investment.
2. An Open Mic Night
This is an excellent idea if you want a crowd looking for light-hearted fun. An open mic night is a fun event where you can make lots selling refreshments and modestly priced tickets. It is also a minimal upfront investment because many beginners join open mic nights for exposure.
3. A Cocktail Making Masterclass
A cocktail-making masterclass always goes down a treat. You’ll have to invest in decent marketing for this one and consider pairing it with local distilleries. Otherwise, overhead costs are low because you can hire ‘in-house experts’, a.k .a. your bartenders, to run the show. And you can sell event tickets.
4. Cooking Classes
Similarly, you can run cooking classes. These are brilliant for establishing your business as an authentic expert in your cuisine niche. You can also pay your chefs to run the event - providing behind-the-scenes insight and keeping costs low.
5. Speed Dating
Speed dating events are a fun one. You invite tons of singles and sell modestly priced tickets to the event. Provide food and drinks ready for purchase, and voila - you have a profitable restaurant event. The bonus is you could offer discounts on first-date meals. Hello, guest-to-customer conversion.
6. A Costume Party
This is a brilliant seasonal event — especially at Halloween or Christmas. However, you could also run it year-round using trending news. For instance, dressing as superheroes for a new Marvel film. Or Hunger Games characters to celebrate the latest movie release. Costume parties are fun and can make you money through tickets and food and drink sales on the day.
7. Dance Night
A dance night is super fun. You could host a ballroom dance, rave, or anything in between. Just think about your target audience and what would appeal to them. You can make a killing on drinks sales, plus make this a ticketed event.
8. A Seminar
Seminars and lectures are amazing if you want to establish yourself as an industry leader. The key here is ensuring they align with your brand identity and values. For example, if you run a vegetarian restaurant, running seminars on pesticides and the importance of organic produce. You’ll need to hire expert speakers. And your main profit will come from ticket sales.
9. Tasting Events
A really smart restaurant event idea is a tasting event. You simply run a ticketed event for people to try new dishes and beverages — introducing your menu. This is great because it builds familiarity with your products and encourages a high guest-to-customer conversion rate. It also establishes your brand image and identity, allowing you to introduce stories behind dishes and drinks.
10. Charity Events
Last but not least, you can also run charity events and fundraisers. The obvious benefit of this is that it helps a good cause. However, there’s also the fact that charity events positively build your brand image. Guests will leave with a positive image of your business, meaning they’ll respect you more. This is great for driving future sales. It is brilliant for reinforcing how your business appears to the public eye.
How Effective Are Restaurant Events?
Just how effective are these restaurant events? It is a great question. Well, think of it logically. If you bring in 200 people to try speed dating, you can sell 200 tickets.
You could sell them at $15 per ticket — a nifty $3,000 on ticket sales. Then, you sell drinks and food on the day, which could make anything upwards of $2,000. You get an upfront profit of around $5,000 (minus any staffing expenses and event prep). And, most importantly, you get the bonus of 200 potentially fresh faces crossing your threshold.
Let’s say you successfully convert 50% from event guests to customers. You then get 100 new bookings for dinner at your restaurant and the potential for a new group of loyal customers. Not to mention the secondary profit you accrue through these post-event bookings. Fantastic, right? You tick off three main boxes with restaurant events: direct profit from the event, brand awareness, and secondary conversion profit.
No matter what event you choose, the strategy works as a treat. Any type of event works well — it just has to appeal to your ideal customer base. The special events get them over the threshold and make you a tremendous upfront profit. Then, you convert guests into customers and let your delicious food do the rest of the talking.
One great way to convert guests to customers is through WiFi marketing. WiFi marketing uses a captive portal system to leverage the power of your guest’s WiFi. When event guests join your WiFi, you can create stipulations, like accepting email marketing material.
Perfect your restaurant events strategy and try our WiFi marketing software. You can start your Beambox free trial today. Ideas for restaurant events come easily, but our WiFi marketing is your perfect match.
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