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I have planned well for my special event but no customers have shown up!

How often does it happen where an independents restaurant or hotel's food and beverage outlet does planning for a Theme or promotion and tick many boxes to ensure this event's success but oops! few or no customers do show up to join and enjoy this event!

Here are some of the boxes that could be completed by a restauranteur Or F&B team but still the audience that joins this celebration would be minimal :

- Set a future date and time for a specific theme/event

- Chose the theme

-Buy decorations

- Book a band, dancers, performers, or a celebrity chef for the event

-Plan the menu and drink offerings

-Arrange the logistics for all the above points (Storage, tickets, hotel bookings, buying ingredients, etc...

-Plan for a roll-up banner to be set at the restaurant's entrance/hotel's lobby, flyers printing and distributor, email blast, etc...

Imagine the amount of planning, effort, and time spent on each of the above tasks until the day of the event, and boom, only a few customers are present to attend this event, which ultimately means a loss in the P&L of this particular event, a lot of expenses and few revenues generated! painful right?

The big question that everyone will try to answer in the post-mortem meeting is what has happened? Where was the gap and what is the reason for this failure to attract enough customers to attend this event?

The answer to this could be limited to a couple of points :

- Wrong timing - where there might be possibly another big event/ show that is happening somewhere else in the city just as an example ...

- Weather impact - causing traffic and reasons that prevent outdoor audiences from reaching the location.

- Prices are not justified and the customer doesn't feel the value of paying such prices to attend this event.

- Last but not least, ineffective Media and advertising strategy! if you depended on email blast, flyer distributor, and a roll-up banner to create awareness of this special event, you realize by now that all these weren't effective in attracting customers to come and experience this event with you!

What could be done better? here are a few things that I have experienced during my long career especially when working in some of the most reputable hotel chains :

- Everyone is sales! In one of the hotels where I worked back in the days in Dubai, each restaurant manager had to join a sales manager during their sales calls and visits to corporate companies, where we used to plan for each upcoming quarter's events and have them printed on a small promotional booklet with images, description, prices, etc... And this is different than just printing and distributing flyers, as during a sales call we used to explain passionately about our upcoming events and we used to extend 10% -15% discount for group reservations if the company could book for a group ahead of time for this particular event! and in most cases, I used to come back with confirmed bookings event 3 months before an event's actual happening date!

-Telecalls! One of the additional techniques that we used to follow, was to call customers that we have in our database and that were actual customers visiting our previous events and inform them about this new happening! and it worked too!

-Special offer for your in-house customers! I know that many companies are trying to avoid discounts on special events, but by offering an incentive for your in-house customers who stay in the hotel, when these will be attracted to join your event and find value in attending the event, this is likely to increase their loyalty and generate a long term returns from these loyal customers.

-Inform the respective embassy and invite the top officials from that embassy to attend the related event that is linked to their country in a way or another, also ask them to spread the word for their community not to miss this event that represents their culture

- In our days now, there are some new options such as inviting famous bloggers who could create awareness for their followers about this event, inviting some famous radio station presenters to cover the event life...

Last but not least, the more people that know about the event the more are likely to attend, additionally, many companies do not evaluate periodically the effectiveness of their advertising and promotional strategies (what was the response ratio for any particular event after using a certain channel? you might want to have your hostesses ask the customers upon arrival on how they heard about this event upon arrival, as one of the ways to measure media spending effectiveness...

Last but not least ,it is critical to hold the F&B team / Restaurateur responsible for having a full P&L for each event (Total expenses Vs total sales ) , in a way that they should be able to explain after the event the main reasons for the success of failure to their top management and to put in writing what they will recommend doing differently for the upcoming events

Also sales team should be accountable for guaranteeing some group bookings during their sales calls, especially when it comes to main events that make or break a place's reputation. So accountability is a key for all of the above!

Wishing all of your planned events will be full at all times !

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