2020 has been a frustrating year for the hospitality industry, with the COVID pandemic, lockdown periods that kept customers at home, and a slow ramp-up to reopening and in-house dining capacities. But there is one service that restaurants can offer to drive revenue and turn this year into a successful one: Catering.
Consumer trends and COVID concerns make catering an easy win for the hospitality industry. Even before the pandemic, more than half of restaurant customers said they regularly opted to pick up food at their local restaurant or have it delivered so they could enjoy it at home. And, after months of cooking and cleaning up after three meals a day at home, customers want a break. Your restaurant can give them a quality meal that requires little or no time or work on their end.
It’s time to up your catering game, and we’ve got 10 ideas from Tripleseat customers that will help you boost your catering business for the rest of 2020.
1. Offer something unique and trendy
Alamo Cafe in San Antonio has a catering setup that’s perfect for anyone who can’t get enough cheese in their life. Their queso fountain is a must-have for any offsite gathering.
Does your restaurant have a champagne fountain, portable donut wall, Bloody Mary garnish station, or another unusual way to serve food? These trends will definitely get attention from prospective catering customers and they’re Instagram-worthy, which means everyone attending your gatherings will be posting lots of photos and spreading the word about you online.
2. Introduce grocery and meal kit delivery
The number of people ordering grocery and meal kit delivery has spiked during the pandemic, and restaurants are in a prime position to cash in on this fad. Eataly’s locations have begun grocery and wine box delivery to customers who want their specialty foods and enjoy cooking at home.
Whether you offer provision boxes, meal kits, virtual cooking or tasting kits, prepared meals, or traditional delivery, customers are always looking for something different to try. These options provide a new spin on catering and give your customers a new experience.
3. Deliver an event in a box
Do you have customers that want to hold a small celebration at home? Or a virtual event experience for everyone to enjoy from the safety of their home? Revolution Catering in Woburn, Mass., provides their catering clients with everything they need, with themes like a tiki cocktail night and charcuterie and champagne.
These catering options are perfect for any restaurant. Create kits for themes like cocktail nights, birthdays, bridal showers, celebrations, or breakfast, lunch, and dinner meetings. Guests can feel comfortable partying at home, and your restaurant will be adding to the bottom line.
4. Offer a discount
Pandemic or not, customers are always looking for ways to save money, especially now that they’ve been spending a lot more on groceries to make every meal at home. Puckett’s in Columbia, Tenn., decided to waive the delivery fee for customers who order catered meals at home for the month of September.
This is an easy one for restaurants. Fee waivers, coupons for a dollar amount or percentage off, giving something extra to catering customers (like an additional side or dessert at a discount) will definitely drive catering sales.
5. Make it easy
California-based Tacolicious gives catering customers the easiest possible catering option: Boxed meals. Their taco combo box has a meal for one plus condiments and their bottled margaritas are ready to pour.
Portioned meals require zero effort on your customers’ part, need minimal delivery and setup time, and are simple to clean up.
6. Take on the holiday cooking
The holidays will look a bit different this year, and the need to social distance may prompt more people to celebrate at their homes instead of booking private dining rooms. Last year, Char in Nashville promoted their catering options as a way to make their customers’ holidays easier, whether by ordering pies, sides, or more.
Your customers will definitely need a break by the holidays. Start your holiday marketing campaign now and remind them that catering will make their holidays less stressful and more enjoyable.
7. Look for corporate opportunities
Employees who have switched to remote work this year miss the perks and interaction of an in-person office environment. Encore Catering in Toronto is appealing to this group with special catering for remote workers.
Companies still have money in their 2020 budgets dedicated to meeting and events and they will be spending it on catering. Create catering options that work for delivery to remote employees, meetings, small work gatherings, and holiday celebrations.
8. Try food trucks
Food trucks have had an advantage this year. The kitchen comes to the venue and customers can easily social distance in line to order food. Aioli Gourmet Burgers in Arizona allows customers to book their food truck for private events.
If you have a food truck, offer it as a catering option for private parties and corporate events. It’s an easy way to ensure guest safety.
9. Show off your skills
Langtree Catering in Moorseville, N.C., has had a busy summer catering small events in North Carolina, and they’re great at documenting their work. Their Facebook page is filled with photos and videos of their food presentation and their setups on boats, under tents, in traditional venues, and at locations with a view of Lake Norman.
Visual content is a great way to get your catering business in front of people on social media. Document your behind the scenes work to give prospects a feel for what their event will be like when they hire your business.
10. Create more options
Catering isn’t just delivering and serving food at a venue. Restaurants have come up with a lot of new options to bring their food to customers’ homes. The catering choices at Spiaggetta Restaurant in Stone Harbor, N.J., include takeout, traditional event catering, virtual cooking classes, and family-style meals.
Giving your catering customers multiple options will help your restaurant appeal to a wider client base. Introducing services that cover the different needs of your clients shows that your restaurant is flexible and will work to find solutions that work for everybody.
There’s plenty of time to make 2020 a success
No matter what catering idea you choose, Tripleseat can help you organize your catering and events business. Not yet a Tripleseat customer? Schedule a demo to learn more about how Tripleseat can help you build and streamline more than just your private dining business.