The difficulty of doing business during a pandemic that requires social distancing and strict cleanliness standards has caused restaurants to change the way they approach everything, from daily service to private dining and events.

This has resulted in an inspiring wave of creativity from restaurants across the country, including many Tripleseat customers. We invited event professionals from three successful post-lockdown customers — Eddie Merlot’s, North Corner Haven, and Fabio Trahocchi Restaurants — to share their tips and advice on how they have been creatively growing their event bookings. Jesica Kantner of Eddie Merlot’s, Catherine Dooley of North Corner Haven, and Johanna Harris and Lauren O’Leary of Fabio Trahocchi Restaurants, joined our Social Hour virtual roundtable this week and talked about how to grow revenue during this new normal.

Eddie Merlot’s 12 locations do a lot of private dining business with pharmaceutical companies, and that business was impacted by the coronavirus. But they overcame the challenge by putting together a document that outlined safety procedures and guidelines to share with clients, creating socially-distanced floorplan options, adding COVID-19 addendums to contracts that allow cancellations with no charge, and coming up with curbside carryout and catering options for employees participating in virtual meetings.

Surrounded by 600 acres of farmland in South Carolina, North Corner Haven is a wedding and event venue that had a full calendar of weddings booked for the spring of 2020, and a majority of those were either rebooked or canceled when COVID hit. But even a pandemic can’t stop love, and North Corner Haven still got inquiries from couples who still wanted to get married but were willing to follow all of the safety guidelines. So they created four new wedding packages for parties as small as three people (the bride, the groom, and the officiant), and as large as a socially-distanced event of 50 people. These small wedding packages are becoming a popular trend for 2020 weddings and North Corner Haven’s calendar is filling up again.

Virtual events might not sound like an ideal way for a restaurant to bring in new business, but Fabio Trahocchi Restaurants has embraced the virtual event boom as a revenue generator. Their Fabio at Home virtual cooking and tasting events have become a hit with customers. Participants who sign up for their three-course cooking classes, cocktail tutorials, pasta classes, sommelier-guided tastings, and other events receive all the supplies they need shipped right to their door. They can cook and sip along with their instructors, chat with other participants, show of their creations, and get a little one-on-one time with the chefs. Classes can also be customized for clients; they’re working on a caviar and champagne virtual event for a client who is eager to use their original budget for an in-person event on an online experience.

You can watch the full recording of Social Hour: Success Stories of Selling After Reopening below.

More resources for event professionals

If you’ve missed our past roundtables, you can access recordings of Social Hour online. Event professionals can also find more tips for the hospitality industry on our blog; by listening to our Two Chicks, Three Seats podcast; and by joining our Facebook group, Event Manager Community, to connect with peers and discuss the impact of the coronavirus on the events industry.

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