Family reunions, corporate dinners with a cocktail hour, company holiday parties, fundraisers, wedding receptions… Those are the things that most often come to mind when a bar, nightclub or restaurant lists private events among their services.
And, of course, those types of private events are lucrative for operators who execute them well. Make the processes of planning, preparing your space, and hosting events as painless—and memorable—as possible and you could find yourself with a booming, bottom line-boosting additional revenue stream.
But standard, traditional events aren’t the only types you should consider. This is particularly true if you operate in a city with a healthy convention, conference or trade show business. Private and special events are also big moneymakers in markets that are highly desirable tourist, cocktail and culinary destinations. Take one step out of the box and you’ll find opportunities to host innovative, engaging events such as launch parties and brand- and portfolio-specific promotional events.
Take, for instance, “This is Not a Convent,” which took place during Bar Convent Brooklyn on June 13. Amaro Montenegro enlisted the talents of House of Yes and Macao Trading Co. for this special event. “This is Not a Convent” highlighted the versatility of the herbal liqueur. It also communicated to the attendees that while Amaro Montenegro's secret blend of 40 botanicals may be more than 130 years old, the brand isn’t stuck in the past; they can have fun and get edgy with the best of them.
“#NotAConvent beautifully showcased the irreverent spirit of Amaro Montenegro and struck the perfect balance between brand education and a really good time, says Marco Montefiori, U.S.A. market manager for the brand. "Amaro Montenegro has a rich legacy and intriguing taste, and as our popularity since entering the U.S. continues to flourish, we are always seeking ways to encourage both bartenders and consumers to discover new experiences with the brand.”
The event also showcased Macao Trading Co.’s cocktail-building and service skills. House of Yes, equal parts performance art space, decadent nightclub and creativity incubator, had the opportunity to show off their venue, staff and private event hosting skills to hundreds of potential clients. Everybody—including the partygoers—won. Even some members of the general public won. The party was private from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., then other guests who had secured one of a number of limited invitations were able to experience the event. Smart move, as this meant that fans of Amaro Montenegro and regular House of Yes guests felt included.
The invite design was simple and elegant, yet intriguing and informative. The brands involved were clearly communicated, as was the event address. At the bottom, an email address was provided for attendees to RSVP. The hashtag Amaro Montenegro wanted to be used by partygoers—#NotAConvent—was at the top of the flier.
There are several lessons to be learned from “This is Not a Convent.” Perhaps the most important is that a successful private event should leave every party involved feeling satisfied. The client, you and your staff should look forward to partnering on future events. The guests should be raving about the event and asking what else you have planned. Everyone should win.
Read this: Are You a Red Ocean or Blue Ocean Operator?
Another key point is that the cocktails and food should strike a balance between the familiar and the unique. For the most part, people are looking for what’s new and what’s next. Offer just the standards and your venue and event may lack in the memorable department. Go too far outside a partygoer’s comfort zone and the event may be remembered for the wrong reasons. As it happens, though, beverage brands tend to bring their A game to cocktail menus at their special events. Amaro Montenegro is no exception.
The drink menu at “This is Not a Convent” struck that much sought-after balance between creative and familiar. There was a sparkling Amaro Montenegro cocktail, which leveraged the increasing popularity of sparkling wines and other bubbly ingredients; Monte+Mezcal, which took advantage of the current mezcal craze; the Monte Mule and Montemanhattan, riffs on popular classics; and Amaro Montenegro on the Rocks.
If your bar staff is confident and creative, include cocktail programming in your special event packages. Should you feel that your team isn't quite at that level yet, provide the tools and encouragement they need to hone their talents. As a crucial element to private parties, this is an investment in your overall brand.
Read this: Strengthen Sales with Brainy Bartenders
Depending on your market, venue and team, consider hiring a professional event planner. An alternative to hiring a specialist is to partner with an event planning service in your area. Again, invest in this revenue stream if you expect to see a worthwhile ROI. You don't have to make it a full-time position until this area of your business demands it.
Maintain a list of local influencers and performers you can bring in to set your event and venue apart from the competition. For example, “This is Not a Convent” boasted a DJ set by two well-known artists; burlesque from the legendary Perle Noire and other performers; choreographed dance performances by Rox Republic; tapdancing from Edwin Francisco; aerial artistry by Anya Sapozhnikova and Lola Carter; and live music from Jehiah Brey’s Jazz Quintet and Kat Cunning. Take note of your space and capabilities, research performers across a wide range of entertainment categories in your area, and build reliable, consistent and mutually beneficial working relationships.
Done right, building your reputation as the venue to host special and private events is loaded with brand-expanding benefits. You’ll have the opportunity to create an additional revenue stream, develop deeper relationships with a variety of brands, strengthen the skills of your staff, and add more moneymaking weapons to your arsenal. Stop saying no to opportunity—become a brand of yes.
Watch the video below for highlights from #NotAConvent. We're all adults here but just so you know, the video contains what could be perceived as mildly NSFW content *gasp!* You've been warned: