Best Practices

3 must-haves for a successful restaurant event

Did you know that 35% of consumers choose a restaurant based on special events or promotions? With the potential to attract new patrons and keep your regulars coming back for more, restaurant event hosting has become a key strategy for many operators. Whether you're planning summer holiday celebrations or aiming to become the go-to destination for group outings, this comprehensive guide has you covered.

1. When to host a restaurant event

Major holidays

Holidays are a great reason to host events at your restaurant, especially since, according to the National Restaurant Association, 63% of adults planned to dine out during the 2023 holiday season. Don’t feel limited to just the winter holidays though, the spring and summer months also present fantastic opportunities for restaurants to engage with guests and boost revenue. Consider capitalizing on holidays like Valentine's Day, Easter, St. Patrick's Day, Mother's Day, and Father's Day as these occasions offer unique opportunities to create memorable dining experiences and attract guests seeking to celebrate with family and friends.

Food holidays

Don’t stop at major holidays; from National Chicken and Waffles Day to National Crab Day, there is no shortage of food-related festivities that can be used as a basis for an in-person get-together or promotion at your restaurant. We recommend crafting special menu items, hosting themed events, or offering exclusive promotions that align with these food-centric holidays. By tapping into these lesser-known festivities, you can give guests an exciting and unique reason to choose your restaurant.

Any day

One of the most exciting aspects of hosting restaurant celebrations is the sheer flexibility and creativity they allow. Whether you're aiming for regular, small-scale gatherings like trivia nights or sports viewing parties, or grand ticketed affairs such as concerts or tasting dinners, there are a number of different events your restaurant can host to bring in more customers.

2. The easiest way to manage a restaurant event

Hosting successful events involves numerous factors, from crafting themed food offerings to effectively promoting to guests. Each step plays a crucial role in ensuring maximum revenue and a memorable experience. Fortunately, technology can streamline planning, promotion, and management, making these tasks easier. Here are some ways technology can assist you in these areas:

Online ordering

While the term 'event' often conjures images of in-person gatherings, many operators are using technology to host or manage festivities. In fact, 44% of restaurant owners and operators plan to host a special online ordering event in 2024. Ordering events put a unique spin on traditional catering by enabling restaurants to sell curated dishes or specialty items, like a take-home grill kit for Father’s Day, to a large volume of customers. This approach is particularly effective for offering holiday-themed meals, selling tickets for prix fixe dinners, or promoting exclusive culinary experiences like cooking classes or concerts.

Phat Eatery, for example, used ordering events to sell tickets for Lunar New Year. For a flat rate, guests enjoyed offerings from a prix fixe menu and an exciting Lion Dance performance. The restaurant earned over $19,000 from ticket sales and provided guests with a truly memorable experience.

Reservations

While reservation systems are invaluable for managing day-to-day seating, their utility extends far beyond just seating arrangements. These systems offer significant value in gauging demand for celebrations, enabling restaurant owners to better plan staff scheduling and meal preparation. By analyzing reservation data, you can anticipate the popularity of upcoming events and adjust staffing levels accordingly. Additionally, keeping your event menus updated on reservation platforms, like OpenTable, is crucial to keep accurate information in front of guests and entice them to attend. With the right approach to reservation systems, you can optimize planning and deliver exceptional dining experiences to your guests.

Waitlisting

During busy restaurant events, tools like digital waitlisting are a great way to manage large volumes of guests. You can text diners a link to your menu to encourage faster ordering once they’re seated and message guests when their table is ready so they don’t have to crowd your lobby. Moreover, digital waitlists automatically collect contact information from guests, providing restaurants with a valuable resource for future marketing efforts. By using these contact lists intelligently, such as sending targeted promotions or personalized offers, restaurants can cultivate lasting relationships with guests and encourage repeat visits long after the event has ended.

3. How to promote a restaurant event

Use your website

Your website is the perfect place to promote events, especially since there are a lot of dynamic ways to do so. Bold announcements, such as pop-up messages or banners, offer immediate visibility and can quickly pique curiosity. Implementing an events calendar keeps guests informed about upcoming happenings and encourages attendance. 

Staff word of mouth

Training staff to actively promote upcoming events is an effective way to spread the word. Creating scripts or promotional materials can ensure consistent messaging and remind them to engage guests about upcoming happenings. However, relying solely on staff can have its limitations, especially during busy periods when they may forget or not have time to mention events. That's where AI Answering comes in.

AI Answering is an automated phone answering service that uses information from your website to field guest questions. Operators can write custom responses for the tool to use, which are great opportunities to share details on an upcoming event. Between training your staff and implementing Answering, you can ensure all of your customers are in the know about your next exciting function.

Integrated marketing strategy

Digital marketing plays a crucial role in generating excitement for upcoming celebrations and promotions, with a significant portion of guests expressing interest in hearing from restaurants about special events. Leveraging channels like email, social media, and text messages can effectively spread the word and drive attendance.

However, planning and executing marketing content can be time-consuming, especially for busy restaurant owners juggling multiple tasks. That's why many are turning to AI Marketing. This automated marketing solution harnesses data from your website to craft a month's worth of tailored texts, emails, and social media posts, saving you time and effort. With AI Marketing, all you need to do is review and approve the content, ensuring that your marketing efforts remain consistent and engaging.

Schedule a free demo with our team to discover how AI Marketing can simplify restaurant event promotion and more.

Front of the House Resource

2024 Restaurant Trends Report

Are you up-to-date on 2024's hottest restaurant trends? From AI in restaurants to beverage menu promotions, Popmenu's 2024 Restaurant Trends Report covers all the changes that are shaping the restaurant industry.

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