Using Your Space For Private Events
As more and more of the public choose to get vaccinated and the fear of the virus subsides (a bit), people are gravitating towards hosting special events just like they did in the past. And when they look for places to celebrate baby showers, engagement parties, and graduation parties, they’ll want to go somewhere festive, high-end, and extraordinary. In other words, they want an experience that they cannot get at home.
So how can you, as a family-run small business (or perhaps a corporation), cater to your guests’ desires for their special occasions? Here’s how to use your space for private events.
Establish Your Standards
Before you can advertise to the public that you’re open for parties and private events, make sure to establish and communicate your standards so you don’t feel as though you’re compromising your values for profit. Think to yourself: how can I keep the integrity of my business while adapting to the “new normal”? How many guests will you allow in your space before it seems too noisy or unsafe, and when will the amount of alcohol or food consumed become excessive? At the risk of sounding cynical, some can tend to take a mile when given an inch, so make sure you set the boundaries so your guests can have fun while providing the best reputation for your restaurant. As always, communication is key!
Listen To Your Client’s Needs
To be completely transparent, we must admit that not everyone will be keen on group gatherings soon after a pandemic. That being said, for the people who are willing to book your private space for a few hours, you’ll want to ensure that their experience is something they’ll want to pass on to others. Before your clients ever sign the check, establish a good rapport with them, and ensure them that you’re as invested in their special day as they are. A good rule of thumb to follow is to ask two questions for every statement. For every time you mention the capacity of your space or the behavioral expectations you have for your clients, make sure to ask, “What do you have envisioned for this evening? What can we do to accommodate your vision?”
If you promise to help your guests reach all of their entertainment goals for the evening (or afternoon), deliver on that promise. See that the ambiance, decor, and even table settings match the mood of your guests, enabling them to have a time they won’t forget any time soon (and pass on the word to others).
Allow Yourself To Learn
In all honesty, hosting private events can provide a bit of a learning curve, even for experienced restauranteurs. There are so many different kinds of groups out there with so many different needs, and you may discover a lot along the way of trying to please them all. As difficult as it may seem, invite honest feedback after every event, and encourage guests to post their reviews on social media, if possible. Worst case scenario, if they post a scathing review on Yelp, you’ll be able to promptly (and publicly) respond, see the bits of truth in their remarks, and learn from any mistakes. A little humility can go a long way!
No matter the time of year (or the circumstance), people want to have a sense of normalcy again, much of which can come from enjoying private events in restaurants like yours. Providing a welcoming, safe, and professionally run event for your clients can be a challenge, but communicating your expectations beforehand, building a rapport with your guests, and learning from any little mistakes can help to make the process a bit more digestible.
Restaurants, after all, are a place of gathering, and in many cases, a way to build lifelong memories. With a bit of patience and hard work, your place could become the spot for every celebration from a newborn’s christening to a sweet old couple’s anniversary.