Every restaurant has blocks of time in their week when business is slow. In order to keep up with the competition, it’s necessary to be creative in your methods of attracting clientele. But before you invest time and effort into arranging a trivia night or speed dating event, take the time to assess your situation and plan the event accordingly.
The activities you offer need to suit the space. Events such as band performances, dancing, or speed dating are great because you can charge cover in addition to offering drinks and meal service. The drawback is that these types of activities require breathing room. However, there are types of activities that don’t require expansive space. Trivia nights, charity bartending events, or novelty meals associated with milestone events such as promotion, engagement, or birthday or even days of the week, such as “Taco Tuesday”, are good places to start if space is limited.
In addition to considering your space, it is important to consider the character of your restaurant, as well as the general profile of your patrons. For example, “Taco Tuesdays” would be an incongruous offering for a restaurant that provides fine Italian cuisine. Further, if your restaurant attracts a quiet, elderly crowd, a rowdy trivia or speed-dating event would not suit. If you draw a diverse clientele base, consider administering brief patron surveys to assess which type of activities draw the most interest. Ultimately, you will have to experiment to identify where true interest lies; however, investing time and energy in conducting a preliminary assessment will save you money in the long run.
It is important that you host events based on real demand rather than on your, or another administrator’s, personal interest. No one will be happy if you host an event that you or the proprietor find personally entertaining, but no one else shows up.
Understand the particular quirks and perks of your area. Is there a local brewery, non-profit, or bakery that you can plug? Rising tides raise all ships. By supporting your local community, you encourage loyal patronage. If given the option, the vast majority of people will patron an establishment with a mission over one that doesn’t. Inclusivity is inviting.
Slow periods are natural. They also provide an opportunity to exercise your creativity by the need to broaden the scope of your offerings. Hosting novel activities or events is a good way to establish a community, with your restaurant as the focal point. The necessary consequence is loyal patronage.
Challenge: Approach your guests today and casually ask them what kind of activities they would be interested in attending.
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