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The HospitalityGEM Guide to Creating a Big Occasion

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The HospitalityGEM Guide to Creating a Big Occasion

The HospitalityGEM Guide to Creating a Big Occasion

The party season is here - well pretty much - and pubs, bars and hotels across the country are gearing up to welcome guests for the festivities. Hosting large events isn't everyone's cup of tea, and it's certainly not something to do on a whim, but if you are thinking of hosting a big occasion, either now or next year, here are some points to consider...

Risk vs Reward:

The advantages and risks vary depending on the type of venue, clientele, location and reputation.

For establishments properly geared up for big occasions with well trained, competent staff from front of house to pot washer, it's arguably more risky not to host big events. The investment in finding the right staff and training them to a high level will inevitably require big events to make it all pay off.

For such establishments the advantages of hosting a big occasion, when it goes right, are numerous. Visibility is one of the key rewards. Big occasions can showcase exactly what a venue is capable of, and can give customers assurance of competence and quality. Getting things right will result in referrals, positive online reviews, and most importantly satisfied customers.

For smaller pubs and bars, trying to host an occasion without adequate preparation could be a massive headache. If you're not properly geared up, you could find that infrequent 'big events', whilst bringing in a short term boost to the till, could be an incredibly disruptive distraction from your core offering.

Timing is Everything:

Planning should start at least 6 months in advance. From liaising with suppliers to booking staff, hiring equipment and marketing the event, it's far better to be fully prepared with 6 weeks to spare than to be scrabbling around for supplies or equipment at the last minute.

Marketing should start approximately 3 months before the event, but a well thought out schedule of how it is marketed is vital. Initial advertising, both in house and in carefully selected publications, will help to bring an initial boost if you're looking for bookings. This can be reinforced with a social media campaign, and if required, a direct marketing campaign to warm contacts. Remember that this campaign will be the public face of the event and therefore needs to reflect the calibre of event you are aiming for.

When to Tweet:

For prolific users of social media, there's absolutely no harm in reminding potential customers a couple of times a week, as long as posts are kept interesting, informative, friendly and definitely not 'the hard sell'. Keep Tweets and Facebook posts about the event in the mix of your usual social media activity so when people look at your timeline it isn't just full of the same shameless self-promotion. Be careful not to over egg it though, if you post too much you risk creating the impression that tickets aren't selling...

It's essential that your marketing campaign is properly organised and that the team know exactly what to do to maximise the conversion rate for sales enquiries. Sometimes it can be worth arranging 'mystery enquiries' to test and learn from your enquiry process. Without sufficient numbers in attendance, your event will be a damp squib with damaging consequences for your venue.

Other Points to Consider:

Perhaps the most underestimated area in terms of preparation is the combination of "Involvement-Training-Practice". In other words: make sure that your teams are involved from the start so they have a stake in the outcome; make sure any staff not involved in the planning is trained in what to expect and how to respond; and run through some practice scenarios so that it is second nature on the day.

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