If you’ve yet to invest in restaurant activities, this article is for you. Having a schedule of restaurant event ideas is a great way to keep your business relevant and appealing. If you use activities like game nights, a mic night, or a wine-tasting night wisely, you can notice a total transformation. Event ideas and marketing bring customers to your doorstep, and this extrovert tactic gives you leverage. You get better marketing access to your target audience through activities in your restaurant. This means you can convert attendees to loyal customers with just some effort.
Having a restaurant marketing solution is something everyone should have. Running a special event could be monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, or even annual. It is a brilliant way to connect with your customer base. It’s also great to motivate your workforce - nothing beats a slow night like the excitement of an upcoming event.
So, are you ready to revolutionize your restaurant through events and activities? As a restaurant owner, you’ve got to be on your toes and reactive to trends and marketing opportunities. In this guide, we’ll show you everything you need to know about utilizing activities in restaurants. We’ve even got ten leading ideas that you can capture to make a start. Let’s dive in.
Why Use Activities in Restaurants
There are thousands of restaurant strategies you can utilize, so why bother with activities in restaurants? Well, restaurant event ideas are the most fun. This is important for a wide range of reasons.
Firstly, fun attracts attendees. If you want volume, you will get more foot traffic and traction from a fun event. If you create your events with your target audience in mind, this is a guaranteed success. Your event will hugely appeal to your ideal customer demographic. This gives you a great position to navigate post-event attendees to customer conversions.
Next, fun can align with your brand image and build more positive associations. People learn by association, and you want it to be positive if you build brand awareness. By creating fun events and activities, you are introducing your restaurant through a positive lens. You can also use activities and associations to establish yourself in different ways.
For instance, as an expert in Italian cuisine and wines, through wine-tasting events and pasta-making classes. Or a sustainable trendsetter through seminars and organic wine tasting. In short, it gives you a chance to chisel away at your restaurant’s image.
And lastly, fun events are significant for your workforce. It helps to instill a sense of novelty and excitement. You can enjoy more fulfilling work days and help create milestones and a sense of achievement for your staff. This can be valuable when combating the high turnover rate in the restaurant industry.
When you balance responsibilities and hire adequate staff, events can help staff upskill and diversify their work day. This is perfect for tackling monotony, boredom, and feeling unappreciated. Unappreciation and monotony thrive in customer service jobs - so tackle this head-on with fun events.
Best Restaurant Entertainment Ideas
Are you looking for the best restaurant entertainment ideas? Restaurants with activities are the ones that get the big fish, aka huge profits and floods of loyal customers. That is, as long as they are running things properly. You should ensure that you are running events that appeal to customers. The last thing you want is a total flop and waste of your - and their - time.
The best way to avoid this is to choose ideas that resonate with your ideal customer base. Scroll through these ideas and see if any would appeal to your target audience.
1. DJ Parties and Music Events
Of course, music is a huge pull for many restaurants and businesses. Food, drink, and music go together like peanut butter and jelly. And no matter your restaurant type, there’ll be a music genre or performance style to suit you. Throwing DJ parties might appeal to the most lively restaurant-bar venues. While small, authentic restaurants could host intimate jazz performances or singers from their country’s cuisine.
Music is a brilliant way to get people into your restaurant. You could open out of hours or close down normal operations for an evening of partying. You could also link the music to a critical event, like St Patrick’s Day or other culturally relevant holidays. There’s so much room for creativity here, whether you want meaningful celebration or light-hearted partying.
2. Open Mic Nights and Comedy
Another hugely popular idea is the open mic night or comedy event. This is ideal if you want a special event that will get people interacting. It is also more organized — although chaotic — than a music event. You’ll have seated guests and no need for a dance floor. You could hire comedians or set up an open mic, spotlighting local talent.
The latter is much more cost-effective, of course. You’ll need to invest a bit in marketing and finding the talent beforehand. Contacting local comedy and performing arts clubs is an excellent place to start. They’ll likely be able to put you in contact with talent, and then the ticket selling is up to you. You may need to organize things like mics and a stage.
3. Pair With a Brewery
Partnering with a local brewery is a beautiful idea for restaurant event ideas. You could do this in so many ways. You could partner with a brewery for discounted beer in exchange for promos at one of your events. Or you could turn the whole experience beer-related. For instance, you are inviting the brewery to give a talk and run a tasting experience of their products.
Brewery marketing is massively about networking and partnering with restaurants and bars, so chances are, you’ll get positive responses. The key is to keep it light, fun, and educational. The sniff of anything too promotional will send guests running to the hills. And the last thing you want is to create negative sales connotations for your restaurant. An excellent way to overcome this is to develop a plan with the brewery beforehand. You could even have a set sales corner where guests can enquire and purchase on their terms.
4. Cooking Classes
Food classes are unique because the restaurant owner or chefs can often lead this event. This keeps costs low and avoids expensive outsourcing. Cooking classes are also great for creating intimate atmospheres where you can bond better with guests. Consider ticketed sales for cooking class experiences. This way, you can track who is coming beforehand for ingredient shopping.
Cooking classes are also great for reinforcing your sense of brand authority, establishing you as an authentic expert.
5. Seasonal Events
This is great if you want to dip your toes in. For instance, at Christmas, you might open a “Santa’s Workshop”. You might have a potion-making cocktail class or a scare trial for kids at Halloween. And at Easter, you could have a massive Easter egg hunt or chocolate-making masterclass.
You could run many seasonal events and activities at your restaurant. These events appeal to a large demographic and should be easier to market. However, you must consider how you will convert guests to loyal customers ahead of time. Pulling your target audience out will need to be more conscious.
6. Lectures and Educational Seminars
Now, this event has a definite demographic. You must tread carefully when planning lectures and educational seminars to ensure they align with your target audience. These events should address things your target audience and existing customer base are passionate about. For instance, if you run a vegan restaurant, animal welfare lectures and seminars would go down a treat. Inviting a health or environmental specialist for a lecture would be fantastic if you run an organic restaurant.
It is a good idea to gauge interest before hiring speakers - which can be extremely expensive. You will also need to invest strongly in marketing and ticket sales since this will be the primary revenue. Of course, you can also sell food and drinks on the day. As a whole, though, lectures and seminars are brilliant for establishing your expertise and authority. It also opens a two-way flow of communication and shows your restaurant as more of a community.
How To Plan Event Ideas for Restaurants
Knowing how to market a restaurant is vital, and learning to plan event ideas for restaurants is enormous. As a big part of marketing, events are an excellent way to build awareness and positive feelings toward your restaurant. And - as we’ll cover in more detail below - a great tool to convert attendees into loyal customers, boosting profit. Before you get to the profit-boosting, though, you’ll need to plan the event. How do you do that?
Simple. You can follow these simple steps. This is how to plan a fantastic event for your restaurant.
- Brainstorm. First, you need to brainstorm - as in, seriously, brainstorm. You must crunch your budget, get clear on your target audience, and draft potential ideas. Your ideas appeal to the customers you want to attract. For instance, think of a music night, wine-tasting event, or whisky night.
- Source and organize. Next, you need to make your chosen idea/ideas a reality. Consider sourcing, hiring, or organizing things in advance. This is especially true if you need to book a speaker or equipment. Otherwise, plan how to source things you must buy at the last minute - like food ingredients.
- Market, market, market. Finally, you get marketing like your life depends on it. You could do this through email, SMS, or social media marketing. Don’t underestimate the power of word-of-mouth marketing, either. Tell your local customers and offer reductions for plus-one attendees.
- Run the event. You made it to the day. Monitor your numbers and evaluate the success of your event. Above all, have a way to collect contact details so you can convert attendees to customers later.
How To Convert Attendees to Loyal Customers
This guide mentions conversion extensively, so let’s tackle this head-on. It is vital to know how to convert attendees to customers after events. After all, what use is getting people over your threshold if you aren’t going to persuade them to return? Building a network of loyal customers is vital for restaurants that rely on repeat bookings. If you are in a small town or less visited city, many of your customers will be repeat customers.
There are some simple ways to convert attendees, so jot these down and get converting.
- Collect contact details. There are so many ways to collect contact details during events. You could run a captive portal system to collect email addresses in exchange for a guest WiFi connection. Or you could run a giveaway that requires people to subscribe to SMS marketing to have a chance of winning. This is vital for collecting contact details for marketing post-event.
- Have QR codes. QR codes are another incredible conversion tool. You could have QR codes with discounted dining experiences, offering 10% vouchers when you book a table. This is great because you get contact details and bookings.
- Create an amazing experience. Finally, impress! Impress guests with customer service, make your restaurant’s brand image and aesthetic pop, and create a fantastic experience. Guests are more likely to return if they have a good time at your event. This is an active step you can take.
Final Thoughts: How Much To Budget for Restaurant Activities
It is worth budgeting as much as possible for events. This is for a few different reasons. Firstly, you can make a great return on events, primarily through ticket and drink sales. Secondly, events are tax-deductible and a brilliant form of marketing. It’s like having a reputation manager - you are waving your magic event wand and creating hugely positive associations. Scaling your restaurant, activities, and events are great tools to get results quickly.
With all that in mind, we’d recommend budgeting anything from $0 to $1,000 for a single event. You should balance how much you spend with the revenue you plan to bring in. And your budget will depend on whether you are completing the work yourself or outsourcing. For instance, if you are a sommelier and a restaurant owner, you could technically run a wine-tasting event for free. But if you need to hire a sommelier to run the event, it could cost you a few hundred dollars.
If you want to stay at the low end of your budget, pick events and activities you can run yourself. You should also partner with local businesses to get cheaper deals. For example, you could partner with a local brewery to get more affordable beer prices to sell at your event. They get marketing, and you get higher profit margins; it’s a win-win.
Remember to budget for post-event conversions, too. At Beambox, we use captive portals to help business owners convert guests into loyal customers. Start your Beambox free trial now. Your restaurant activities and events can collect vital information for post-event conversions while still running.
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