Private Events 101: How to Build a Program from Scratch

By Caroline Cox | 4 min read

Whether you want to boost revenue at an established restaurant or have yet to open your doors, building an events program from scratch can be daunting. If you’re not sure where to begin, fear not: Gather has you covered. 

Below, we break down eight things you can do to ensure your private events start off on the right foot — and stay that way!

 

Decide on packages

No two private events are alike. Thus, you want to appeal to as wide a range of event types as your space can accommodate. A great way to do this is by creating a few packages. You can have packages for a variety of event types, sizes, and price ranges. Think: an intimate dinner party, a mid-size corporate event with an onsite bartender, or a giant rehearsal dinner buyout with an open bar and a buffet. Just don’t feel the need to get into the nitty-gritty with your packages. Prospects will feel better about the experience if you offer wiggle room for customization.

 

Set up menu options

If you’re a restaurant, it’s unlikely that your private events menu offerings will be exactly like your regular menu. You can list out a few different options for courses or apps, and have your client pick one to three options. Think about whether you’ll offer private events only in the evenings, or potentially for breakfast and lunch as well. Then, determine what would be the best dishes for small and large-volume evenings. Next, decide if you want to offer more family-style buffet options, or if you think a la carte would work best.

 

Assign roles to event staff

Having a well-trained staff can make or break your company’s private events. When developing your program, you can either transition your current staff or bring on event-exclusive team members. It all depends on your venue size and needs. Either way, it’s crucial to ensure that roles are clearly defined. Also, make sure everyone is fully trained not only in their role but to answer any questions they may get about your private event offerings.

 

Implement event management software

One way to make sure your staff is fully prepared to help run your events program? Start off on the right foot by adopting a private event management software before you launch. This way, you can quickly onboard team members, and have all the necessary steps in place to run things smoothly from day one. Plus, our software serves as a one-stop shop. This ensures that everyone can manage leads efficiently and no details fall through the cracks.

 

Keep regular patrons in mind

While there are many upsides to starting an events program in your space, you want to be conscious about not taking on too much too soon. For restaurants, in particular, it can be easy to accidentally spread your team too thin while you get things up and running. But not only could this be detrimental to your staff, it can take a toll on your regular diners as well. Don’t have a large private dining space or only semi-private options? You probably won’t want to start off booking these during a Friday night or weekend evening, to ensure it doesn’t negatively affect diners. It’s about knowing the limits of your space and not overpromising. It’s OK to decline an event inquiry if you don’t have the bandwidth to take it on.

 

Have a solid communication model

Another thing event management software can help your team with: communication! A solid communication model is the driving force of a successful and thriving program. With Gather, you can have unlimited users per location. This makes it easy for everyone on your team to have access to the updates and details they need. Message logs keep correspondence easy to track and view. You can ping a team member directly or update an event, and everyone can immediately see the latest information. Plus, it eliminates the need to search through endless email chains (or missing out on info if a team member quits or goes on leave without providing email access).

 

Create a messaging strategy

How do you want to position your venue in the community? What types of parties are ideal for your space? Where can you reach the most potential customers? All of these are questions worth asking when developing your messaging strategy. It can be as simple as sending out quality newsletters, keeping up a regular social media presence, and engaging online with your clients and prospects. If someone messages your brand with a question, one of your team members should respond as soon as possible. Time is of the essence in the events business. If you don’t act fast, you may lose business to a quicker company.

 

Don’t forget to set goals

While it can seem like sheer chaos at times, the most successful events programs know there’s a method to the madness. Taking advantage of reporting features of software platforms like Gather gives you visibility into the data of how your events are performing. How much business is closing vs. not closing? Which event types bring in the most revenue? What’s the average spend per event? Analyzing all of these reporting features will help you set proper goals, stay on track, and see if any areas need improvement.

 

Now that you know how to start an events program from scratch, request a live demo to see how we can help you succeed!

Caroline Cox
Content Marketing Manager

Caroline Cox is Gather's Content Marketing Manager. She spends her time crafting blogs, thought leadership pieces, case studies, social media content and more, helping empower restaurants and other event venues to streamline their planning process and grow their events programs with success.

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