Holding private functions can be a huge profit-making venture for cafes, restaurants and bars. Closing your restaurant, say, for a birthday function will guarantee you’re at capacity instead of hoping for walk-ins to, well, walk in.
It also means you have greater ability to roster effectively and to manage your inventory. But, as is usually the case in the hospitality industry, competition for wedding venues, birthday functions, staff parties, meetings etc. can be fierce.
Here are 8 things to keep in mind to help you best prepare for private functions at your venue.
1. Do the maths
Before you get all excited about the windfalls of hosting private functions, it’s important to do some good old arithmetic. Brush off your high school maths skills and work out how much to charge an interested party.
The last thing you want to do is to agree a price with someone, only to realise that the extra wait staff or alcohol allowance will mean you incur a loss. Depending on your integrations, your POS system can often help you project figures and work out rough costings.
2. Work out your target audience
Chances are, you’ll already have a good idea of your demographics, the types of people who walk through your door. Now have a think about their interests and needs.
Also consider your strengths and limitations. If you’re a gentile café, it might not be wise to host lots of unruly 21st birthday party functions. Instead, you might want to focus on business events, such as meetups or post-conference dinners.
3. Create a systematic process
Establishing a tried-and-tested process is paramount for a successful event that’ll leave your customers happy. Create a system that ticks all the boxes. You want to ensure you get these details at the very least:
- A signed event agreement
- A deposit
- Payment terms
- Number of guests
- Specific requirements (everything from moving furniture to dietary requirements, playlist choices to bar tab limits)
4. Promote your venue on your website and social media
Once you’ve gone over all the logistics of preparing for a big function, it’s time to let the world know. A quick and easy way to do this is via your website and to your followers on social media.
Create a unique page on your website with all your selling points and ideally a contact form; this is a good juncture to assess your website and to make changes accordingly.
With this in place, you can spread the word to your loyal customers via word-of-mouth and brochures, with your website page prominently displayed in marketing materials and on social media.
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5. Use third party function websites
If this natural marketing isn’t having the desired effect, there are a lot of websites out there devoted to helping people find their perfect venue.
Venuemob has over 4000 of Australia’s premier venues, everything from warehouses to ballrooms. Meanwhile, Hidden City Secrets has made a name for itself sussing out a mix of well-known and obscure venues in major Australian cities.
6. Think outside the box
As we mentioned at the start of the post, there’s plenty of competition in the venue game. One way to differentiate yourself is to promote different aspects of a function.
One example would be to deliver truly sustainable events by doing away with plastic place cards, single-use cups and cutlery, giving guests ethical food containers to eliminate food waste, providing ethical decorations and/or supporting a good cause.
Another way is to upsell your partners or suppliers. For example, if you have a well-known chef, get their help to executively design a menu. Or if you know people in a band, see if they’d be keen to play at certain functions. If so, you can promote live entertainment in your function packages.
7. Communication is key
Hopefully your promotions have had the desired effect and your phone is ringing non-stop. Hopefully, you’re also following your procedures that you set up previously.
If this is the case, it goes without saying that good communication can make or break the success of a venue. Be prepared to get inundated by a bridezilla for weeks before her scheduled wedding function at your venue or an officious businessman keen for the smooth running of his conference.
This is a two-way street and will help both parties manage their expectations. There’s no point upselling your venue if you can’t deliver on your promises.
8. Get feedback
One key to a successful venue is a willingness to make changes. Wait a few days then get in touch with the event host. Hopefully you’ll be on good terms with them and you can have a friendly chat about what worked and what didn’t.
This is also a good time to ask them to complete a Google review or Zomato review, which can generate more interest in your private function offerings.
On behalf of Impos, we’d like to wish you every success for your future private functions! While you’re here, why not read other hospitality-related blog posts, or find out more about Impos and our function-friendly POS systems.