So you’re all excited about an idea for a new event or perhaps you have experience but need some guidance. After learning by trial and error, I can truly relate. In this two-part series, I’d like to share with you some tips that can really help you reach your goals and satisfy your customers in a ways that keep them coming back for more.
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In this first series, let’s explore the basics of creating a successful plan and implementing it from start to finish; the
“who, what, how, where and why” if you will. After that, we will investigate how to get more shelf life out of the event
through promotion and best practices that delight customers.
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Determining your audience is the first step in planning an event. Since you’re here on CulinaryLocal, we’ll assume your event is food and/or beverage-related. So you are half way there. Registering your event here at CulinaryLocal will help capture those people specifically seeking events like yours. You should also be maintaining a list of clients and past customers. Keep your contact information up-to-date and add new guests as they join you. It is a good idea to stay in touch by sending out an occasional newsletter or better yet, a simple thank you note.
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Dating with Passports So you now have a list of people. In this step, you are deciding what you
are selling. What kind of event are you going to plan that will appeal to the
Style & Living Profile
majority of those clients? Do I want to do a cooking demonstration and
tasting? Or do I want to guests to have a hands-on experience? You will
want to consider if alcohol will be served, and if so is additional licensing or
Pay or Wait
permitting required. Are there other barriers or restrictions that might prevent
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me from planning a successful event? Be sure to check local area calendars to find a date and time that does not conflict with other events like yours. Be mindful of the season; you don’t want to plan a summer cocktail class in October. The How: This is the most critical part of the planning phase, or the “Mise en place” step. Be sure you have everything in order to make your event a success. A detailed checklist will help you guarantee that you have all the items you need to host your event. This step includes preparing any menus, recipe cards, certificates or other printed materials you plan to provide. If you are hosting a wine tasting, you will need a tasting sheet and pens. Are you offering swag or premiums, if so these must be ordered in advance. For a culinary class, this would include preparing and measuring all your ingredients in advance and laying out needed equipment. Consider all that you want your guest to accomplish during the class and make certain your facilities offer a way to do just that. The Where: Being cognizant of the number of attendees you can reasonably serve, choose a location that can accommodate that number comfortably with plenty of workspace and seating. Bear in mind that if your event is not at your own location you could have challenges. For instance, in a culinary school or communal prep kitchen, remember to reserve your space in advance and confirm the reservation as the event draws near. If your event is on someone else’s property, check the location ahead of time to ensure that your area is organized and looks professional. Always be on time and be available to greet your guests and even give a quick tour when possible. Remember that hospitality is key in our business and key to our success. The Why: Get feedback from your guests. This is the best way to learn what your clients want so that you can better serve them. Ask them what types of classes they would like to attend and what improvements you could make in the future. Don’t take the criticism personally, instead use the feedback to improve and grow your business. I have found that planning a series on certain popular categories is of great interest especially where repeat business is desired. Perhaps a farmto-table cooking class could be followed by a cooking demonstration using locally farmed items with a guest farmer that can discuss where and how the products were raised. Conclusion: Once your plan has been established and you feel organized and ready, start your event with the attitude that this is going to be fun and have a great time with your guests. Enthusiasm is contagious and if you lead the way your guest will have a great time and tell their friends. Then, watch your business grow!
Chef Welsh Chef Marshall Welsh ABJ, CEC, CHEP is an instructor for Le Cordon Bleu- Atlanta. He is a contributing writer for CulinaryLocal and Bleu Ribbon Kitchen who teaches community classes for the public on Saturdays at Le Cordon Bleu Atlanta.
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