Party Hearty Holidays on the Horizon
The upcoming holiday season can mean big business for operators who capitalize on the opportunities this time of year presents. Now is the time to make plans in earnest. Corporate event planners and hosts of family gatherings are already focusing on the perfect venue that will provide an affair to remember.
What constitutes the perfect venue?
- Great food
- Friendly, attentive service
- Festive ambience
- Convenience and comfort
An event should be memorable — for all the right reasons. It should appear to come off seamlessly, which will happen with the proper planning and execution.
Planning & Execution
For optimal profitability and efficiency, marketing and operations functions must work in tandem to effectively manage the added pressure an event presents to both front and back of the house. Create a template with step-by-step procedures and timelines on which all aspects of an event are listed, along with deadlines and responsibilities.
To streamline operations and relieve pressure on management, an ace special event coordinator is indispensable. Perhaps an existing staffer who is super-organized and knowledgeable about your kitchen capabilities and operation would be a good candidate. If you decide to hire a dedicated event coordinator, it is likely that a part-time arrangement would suffice since most events are seasonal.
Maintain a little black book of qualified kitchen and service staff that can be called upon during peak times to augment existing staff. This is a valuable asset to prevent the stuff of operator nightmares.
Marketing Holiday Events
Style of Service and Menu
Some groups will require a sit-down plated dinner, while others will opt for buffet-style service and/or a stand-up reception. The styles of service your operation can accommodate are, of course, determined by your space constraints. (NOTE: Remember that off-site catering is a bona fide profit builder. If you have little or no event space, consider striking catering partnerships with local venues such as museums, aquariums, etc.)
According to Technomic, the majority of consumers veer toward indulgence when eating at foodservice operations. This is especially true during the holiday season, when party revelers grant themselves special dispensation to splurge. Partygoers want to party hearty, so tailor your menu and beverage options accordingly. When planning event menus, gauge your market. What sells at New York’s Rainbow Room may not play in Peoria.
Speaking of the Rainbow Room, which offers panoramic views of Manhattan from its perch 65 stories up in Rockefeller Center, a sample plated dinner menu follows:
Red & Yellow Endive, Treviso and Arugula Salad with citrus fruits, toasted pecans, warm goat cheese crostini and maple sherry vinaigrette.
1934 Rainbow Room Filet Mignon “Marechale” with fondant potato, Spring vegetables, braised short rib and red wine jus. (1934 refers to the year the Rainbow Room premiered.)
Closer to Peoria, The Signature Room at the 95th, with its own breathtaking vista atop the John Hancock Building in Chicago, suggests a sample menu such as:
Herb Marinated Shrimp with Burrata grits, micro cilantro and saffron butter.
Seared Lamb Chops with tomato goat cheese semolina cake, carrots, mint and Parmesan gremolata.
White and Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake, Seasonal Fresh Fruit Tart and Pot de Crème.
Most event venues offer a tiered menu/pricing structure to accommodate a range of budgets.
A buffet-style presentation can be just as spectacular as a multi-course plated meal. A beautifully crafted dinner or reception buffet automatically becomes the focal point of the room. This is the chef’s opportunity to showcase wonderful roasted meats such as prime ribs of beef, ham, rack of lamb and turkey at carving stations, with an array of sauces and chutneys. Gleaming chafers laden with other entrées, fancy potato dishes, creamy pastas and colorful vegetable sides will add to the opulence, as will baskets of artisan breads and rolls, an array of salads and a sumptuous dessert display.
Successful events incent repeat business. In addition, every person in attendance at your special event is a potential new customer, and will provide valuable word-of-mouth advertising and brand recognition.
It Pays to Advertise
Promote your special event capabilities on your website, in social media, promotional flyers mailed or sent electronically to corporate event planners and available at POS, in-house signage and newspaper ads (many papers have special holiday party sections).
Protect your operation and your customers from liability by providing safe rides home via cab or other conveyance to those who may have overindulged.
Additional Sources of Event Revenue
- Audio/visual equipment
- Portable dance floor
- Specialty linens
- Personalized menus/placecards
- Flower arrangements/décor
- Coat check services
- Valet parking attendants