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Small Steps for Hosting Big Restaurant Events

Small Steps for Hosting Big Events

Following these steps will make your gatherings more successful
There's no need to fret, if your business or organization hasn't started planning for this year's calendar of events. Just follow these simple tips and you'll be on the road to successful gatherings.

Think quarterly - With all the other responsibilities you have as a small business owner, it can be difficult to plan for a full calendar year all at one time. Solve that problem by breaking the year down into four manageable three-month chunks, and figure out what you can reasonably handle in the quarter ahead.

Figure out what kind of events you want to hold - It may sound obvious, but as you ponder what type of events you want to hold -- workshops, seminars, customer appreciation nights, charity drives -- make sure you know the answer to two questions: What do I want to achieve from each of these events? And, what should the attendees gain by attending each of these events?

Decide when you want to host your events - When thinking about the dates and times of your events, it's important to take into consideration your audience, and any holidays that might fall around those dates.  From the audience perspective, consider the time of day, particularly during the week. For instance, if your desired attendees are working professionals, a daytime schedule is probably a bad idea.

For weekend events that fall around a holiday, my rule of thumb is two days must separate the holiday and the weekend to make the time viable. For instance, if Christmas fell on a Friday, the weekend of the 26th and 27th a poor choice for an event. Choose a different weekend if the two-day window rule is violated.

Where is your event going to take place? - For retail and restaurant customers, the answer to this question is obvious. But for those in search of a venue, there are a couple things to keep in mind. First, ensure the location is in an area accessible by the most number of target attendees. Also, make sure the venue is easy to find and has plenty of parking for those who drive there.

(Note: If there are multiple places or dates you're considering for a single event, use an online survey containing a single question with the top three or four logistical options and let attendees decide what works best for them.)

Save the date - People are busy, so it's important to get space on their calendars as soon as possible. If you have the date nailed down, I recommend sending a save the date email 10 weeks in advance.

Open registration as soon as possible - As soon as the date, time, and venue are nailed down, open registration for your event, regardless if it's a fee-based event or free. For fee-based events, getting someone to pay even $1 is a commitment that they are going to attend. Paying online with a credit card is about as firm a commitment as you can get from an attendee. Getting as many people to register online as soon as possible helps with head counts, food orders, and other logistical items.

Follow up after the event - Don't forget to plan for post-event follow-up as well. After each gathering, you should send a short survey to attendees to see if your event lived up to their expectations. Use the feedback to make positive changes for future events.

Following these steps on a quarterly basis can help you make your event calendar much more manageable. Now is the time to get rolling and make this a successful year filled with customer events.

All of this content can be filtered out through your blog, newsletter, and social media channels in an effort to build excitement and awareness around your event and compel target attendees to register. Best of all, you don't have to write or create most of content from scratch, and you're still giving people a larger sense of what's to come when they attend your event.