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How to plan a themed event

12 November 2010

HOW DO YOU PLAN A THEMED EVENT TO DRIVE REVENUE AND BOOST STAFF MORALE?

A themed event can help drive revenue and boost staff morale. As well as creating good will - customers appreciate the effort that goes into making an evening out a little more special - they can provide your business with valuable publicity.

Involve your whole team at the planning stage. Hold a meeting and brainstorm ideas. Once a theme has been chosen, start planning the event by drawing up the menu. This can be used to entice customers to the event.

When writing the menu, consult recipe books, research online or talk to chefs who are specialists in the cuisine that you plan to feature. Specifically, ascertain which dishes work well for large numbers.

Allow time to practise dishes. Trialling a dish as a daily special enables you to see if it works from a practical point of view and gives you a chance to gauge customer reactions.

If specialist ingredients are required, ask suppliers if they are prepared to donate the goods or offer at a special price in exchange for a mention or an invitation.

BRIEF TALK

Use the menu as a basis for selecting the wines. Hold tasting sessions with wine suppliers and encourage them to give you a good price, again in return for publicity or an invitation. You may wish the supplier to introduce the wines to customers and give a brief talk about their provenance.

For help with props, contact the national embassies and travel offices of the countries you may be featuring. They will provide posters and literature which help promote their country. Or, if you are featuring a specific ingredient, search online for a marketing company which promotes the product and ask for support.

Select appropriate music to play in the background, if required. Or you could use the event as an opportunity to bring some live music into the restaurant, for instance, you could hire a steel band for a Caribbean evening or an Irish band for St Patrick's Day.

Consider using the event to make a donation to a local or national charity. Doing so helps increase your publicity of the event and create widespread goodwill.

After it's all over, analyse the results of the event. Did it increase revenue? Did it boost staff morale? Were there any specific problems? If the benefits outweighed the costs, it may be worth drawing up a calendar for the year.

SOME IDEAS TO GET YOU STARTED

Promoting your theme night

â- To advertise to occasional customers, send out details of the event to your mailing list and eâ€'mail database; promote it on your website; and take advantage of the reach of social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook.

â- To draw new business, advertise in local newspapers and magazines, plus on radio and websites.

â- If the event is being held in aid of charity, there is a greater likelihood that the local press will cover the story. Offer to provide photographs to accompany a news story after the event.

Themes to build an event around

â- Diary dates, for example, St David's Day, St George's Day, St Valentine's Day, American Independence, Chinese New Year, Midsummer's Night, and so on.

â- Regional or national cuisines.

â- Specific ingredients or wines. A menu can be built around one ingredient, such as truffles, or around wines from any main wine-producing country or region of the world.

â- Specific subjects or events, such as a Hollywood night to celebrate the Oscars, or a football night to mark the FA Cup or Champions League finals.

â- Guest speakers, for example, book readings from local authors.

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