3 Things We Learned from Event Experts in San Francisco 

By Lisa Lotyczewski | 3 min read

We ended our 2019 Gather Live tour in San Francisco, California in October. Like most of our events, part of the program included a live panel of event experts (who are also Gather customers). The San Francisco panel included Blythe Riske, Sales and Business Development for The Cheese School of San Francisco; Katherine Grant, Director of Events at Urban Putt; and Tamie Rowe, Catering Sales Manager at Il Fornaio. It was a great conversation led by Gather’s own Barry Greene. Here are some of the highlights. 

Find Your Niche 

With all the competition in private events, getting your venue to stand out isn’t easy. All the panel venues had tips on how to clearly share what you offer so your business or program stands out. Tamie told us that in a competitive market where the baseline is good food and good execution, her team stands out with their top-notch customer service. “Our main focus is on relationship-building and getting back to people quickly. We deliver on their vision with excellence in hospitality.”

Blythe from the Cheese School said, “Because of our name, people know what we do and it gives us a clear focus on what our priorities are. I can’t be everything to everyone so having that North star of what I really am and what I will say no to has been really helpful.” Everything from her kitchen setup to her ingredients and event menus is based on this strategy.

Urban Putt, an indoor miniature golf course has also found its priorities within the market. Katherine described how guests are usually delighted by the food since their focus is on the mini-golf experience. And they host sustainably with environmentally-friendly, and low-impact items like bamboo plates and hay straws. Identifying your niche isn’t always easy, but every type of venue can find their fit with guests. 

Event Sales for City-wide Events

Conferences in your town take over hotels and conference venues, so how can restaurants cash in on all these extra guests in town with private dining? Tamie’s restaurant is located across the street from the San Jose Convention center. She says, “You really have to adapt to the needs of those in town for the conventions…We may promote a special menu to capture their attention.”

Marketplaces like Eventup, Wedding Spot, Yelp or OpenTable are another great way to get found. Since they are used nationally, they’re great for non-local planners to find your space to host a private event. 

Blythe also recommended becoming a partner for your local visitor’s bureau where you get access to a conference calendar for the year. “You can go into the convention calendar and prospect six to nine months ahead…That’s a good way to find out what’s coming.” 

event experts

How Seasonality and Seasonal Weather Can Affect Events

How the calendar falls can drastically change your year over year events business. In 2019, there are only three full weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, and the shortened holiday period is affecting event availability. 

While this means a very busy November and December, it can lead to more business in January as well. Katherine suggests to her budget-conscious guests,  “You should definitely book in January when we don’t have our surge pricing.” This allows you to accommodate more guests and fill a normally light calendar month. 

The group also discussed how the weather has affected events in years past. Blythe explained, “At our last location, the first 3-4 years we were in a drought which was great for an event business because you could have large parties outside. And then the drought ended – and suddenly it was raining on holiday parties. It was a learning curve for us.” 

As we end the year on our Gather Live events, we’re working to plan out the calendar for 2020. Stay tuned to see if we’re coming to your city so you can join us for an afternoon of networking and learning with fellow pros from the industry. 

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Lisa Lotyczewski
Product Marketing Manager

Lisa is the Product Marketing Manager at Gather. She works to foster community and educate users about our innovative product, helping showcase how Gather is changing the way people think about events.

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