Anyone who has worked as an event manager in a restaurant will tell you that the holiday season begins in September. Once Labor Day has passed, the go button is pushed on holiday private event marketing campaigns. Inboxes begin to overflow with enticing offers pushing private dining room rentals and holiday event packages — book early, and book NOW.

Yet, this year things are anything but normal and you may be feeling like your efforts would be wasted on forcing your usual holiday agenda. So why not switch it up a bit? I’m not saying you should forget about trying to book private holiday events all together but instead use some of those efforts to push a different kind of holiday event: The catering event. 

It shouldn’t surprise you that catering for corporate events will be an important asset this holiday season. So many employees are just starting to plan a return to their offices while others may be back but just part-time and in restricted numbers. The thought of planning a holiday event outside of the comfort of their office building is overwhelming if not completely out of the picture. Enter catering, the perfect solution to the problem all corporate event planners will be facing this year: How to give employees the holiday party they deserve while keeping them safe and comfortable.

Catering is of course, not a new concept. Some of you may have been offering it as a service option for years. But for others, catering is a whole new world that comes with a whole new revenue opportunity. Where do you begin, and how can you ensure it’s successful? 

Start with marketing and catering packages

Marketing for off-site catering can and should be done the same way you market for in-house events. Start by running a detailed contact report in Tripleseat of customers who have held holiday events at your venue in past years. Take that email list and send a soft touch message. Ask them how they’re doing, let them know that you are open and booking private events for the upcoming holiday season; however, you realize holiday events might look different this year. Explain your plan for offering holiday catering packages and entice them with a repeat customer discount. This soft-sell approach will put you at the top of their minds and quite possibly sway them from canceling their holiday events altogether to hosting a catered one in a safe environment instead.

Now that you’ve set the tone on your holiday catering plans, it’s time to get creative with your holiday catering packages. There is going to be a wide variety of event styles this year so your catering options will need to be numerous as well as diverse. Everything from a traditional catered buffet to the more unconventional event in a box that includes everything they’ll need for a festive gathering from hors d’oeuvres to decorations. Keep in mind that you’re not only trying to sell people on your catering; you’re also trying to sell them on the idea of hosting an event at all. The easier and more appealing you make your catering sound, the more likely you are to get out of the red this holiday season.

Once your catering packages are ready to go, it’s time to send those same customers a second, less soft, and more sales-based email. Show them with words and photos how easy and safe hosting a catered holiday event would be when they choose you. Add pictures of clean buffet tables with serving utensils for each individual, and decorative bottles of hand sanitizer lined up like holiday presents, along with photos of creatively wrapped individual meals. Whatever it is you are offering, sell it, and sell it well.

In addition to email marketing, you should also be highlighting your catering packages on social media. Those same photos you included in your emails can be used on Instagram and Facebook. If you already have a catered event under your belt, take pictures of the event and show those off. Or create your own influencers with regular, everyday customers. Offer clients 10% off their order if they take photos of themselves enjoying your catering and boast about how easy and safe the experience was while tagging your venue and using a specific hashtag. Social media is the easiest and most cost-effective way to get the word out.

While we’re on the subject of marketing, don’t forget to create your custom holiday catering lead form in Tripleseat. With this specific lead form, you’re able to market your catering business separately from your regular business. When you promote your new holiday catering packages on Facebook, you can link to your holiday catering lead form so prospective customers can easily access it. You can embed and link to your custom lead form anywhere you’re able to paste a URL.

Set your Tripleseat account up for catering

Okay you’ve come up with festive holiday catering packages galore, and a killer marketing campaign to boot, so what’s next? Well, it’s time to start booking and managing those holiday catering events, and what better or easier way to do it than with Tripleseat. 

First, you’ll want to make sure you have a catering “room” in Tripleseat. Simply go to Settings> Locations> Edit Room Details> Add Another Room. Name the room “Catering” and click to “Ignore Conflicts” so you can overbook the room as often as necessary. Next, you’ll want to create a catering event type to your dropdown. This can be done by going to Settings> Preferences> Dropdowns. Doing this will ensure that all of your catering events are marked accordingly in Tripleseat so you can keep track of them and run reports in the future to market to catering customers or quickly pull financial information. 

The process of entering the event in Tripleseat will be done exactly how you enter in-house events. If you’d like to use catering-specific event documents, reach out to our support team to have them help you create a set of custom docs. Using Tripleseat for off-site catering events is as streamlined and straightforward as it is for regular private events.

As you can see, implementing a holiday catering service at your restaurant is not only worthwhile; it’s easier than you probably thought. And don’t stop at corporate events. Families and friends will for sure be gathering this holiday season and chances are, if they’re anything like me (full time working mom with kids at home learning remotely), they’ll barely have time to microwave a few frozen chicken nuggets, nevermind cooking and baking for an entire party. There are a myriad of opportunities to plug and sell your holiday catering packages in 2020 and hopefully, the results have you singing “Joy to the World” all the way to the bank.

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.

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