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Fisherman’s Village Music Festival Tells Us How It’s Done

Everett may not have Seattle’s skyscrapers and big city appeal, but it does have a down-to-earth vibe, a primo spot next to the Puget Sound and (much) cheaper drinks. It also has the Fisherman’s Village Music Festival, a multi-day festival going on its sixth year and making waves.

It was just featured in this Seattle Magazine piece as a top thing to do in May and it’s sponsored by KEXP.

(Already convinced? Get tickets now, it’s only a few weeks away). The 2019 lineup features big acts, such as Wolf Parade, local rapper Travis Thompson, and Laura Veirs.

Patrick from Brown Paper Tickets sat down with Ryan Crowther to find out more.

Ryan, let’s get down to it man. How’d you get into organizing events?

Ryan Crowther: I started a job in 2008 at the Economic Development Council of Snohomish County. In that work you learn a lot about government, business, community, and how they all interact. Economic development is really connecting those three things to build the economy.

I noticed a strong lack of nightlife, live music, cultural arts, and connectivity between the arts community (in Everett). I thought, ‘you know what, why don’t we just start throwing a show a month?’ so me and a colleague that I used to work with mapped out on a white board and basically came up with this idea.

The three main goals for Everett Music Initiative were to build resources for local musicians, build awareness of Everett as a location for touring artists, and have one weekend where the entire region looked to Everett for music—that was Fisherman’s Village Music Festival.

You started Everett Music Initiative. What were the early days like? Was it a struggle or successful right away?

Ryan Crowther: I think everyone involved could tell that even though it started small, it was really special. It was special, but it was a really slow grow. I remember the first three or four shows we did; it was like 40-60 people and that was OK, you know.

So, when you started trying to grow it, what were some of the biggest challenges you faced?

Ryan Crowther: Literally everything. I didn’t really have a show promoting background, I’m a publicist by trade, but doing music was a whole new industry for me. Little things all adding up to make producing these events pretty challenging, but we got really resourceful and I think that’s when we realized that we had a community behind us, and we started seeing the community step up to help make these events happen.

The birth of Fisherman’s Village Music Festival, let’s talk about that. How did you get started?

Ryan Crowther: We had a goal and that was to make everyone look at Everett for an entire weekend, but we weren’t really sure when to do it. So, one day I just started mapping it out. Everett didn’t really have a cohesive sort of brand or identity. So, to me the fact that it was a city on the sea was the Fisherman’s Village concept, so people could picture it without knowing about Everett.

Cool, so you started with a brand, model, and the concept. What was the first one like?

Ryan Crowther: It was built a little too large and had too many artists going at one time, too many venues. But at the end of the day, it had its moments and you could tell we were onto something.

Flash forward and segue into this year, what have you re-calibrated and what kinds of changes are in store?

Ryan Crowther: The next step is spreading the awareness and visibility that this is a large special weekend of emerging talent from all over the country in the Puget Sound region. We’re building something that’s a lot like other music festivals, but its own thing at the same time. Alaska Airlines is an official partner this year, which is really exciting. We are combining our artist merch tent with Sub-Pop. We’ve got really great support from Suicide Squeeze, KEXP is co-presenting and has written about it on their blog. To get that sort of attention certainly feels good, but I think it also provides us the credibility we can’t really communicate ourselves.

If you had some wisdom to share about marketing something like Fisherman’s Village Music Festival for a new organizer what would it be?

Ryan Crowther: Hmm… number one would be to find credible partners, so you aren’t out on a limb on your own. It’s a big deal to have because their support convinces people that your event is worth coming to and that’s critical.

It took you a few years to get to where you are, was it persistence that got those sponsors?

Ryan Crowther: Persistence yeah, but we also got Pabst Blue Ribbon our first year which just shows that brands are ready to hop on. Sponsors gave us credibility we couldn’t buy and that’s really important. The second piece of advice I have is to develop a strong social media platform and really drum up as much media as possible. Talk with local writers, major media partners in large cities near you, make sure that you are reaching out and getting any kind of coverage you can each year and it will grow.

How would you land a big-name sponsor like PBR?

Ryan Crowther: The first thing you have to do is create what your value is. Usually that is done via a slide deck where you talk about how many people you can really prove are going to come to the festival or event, what your social reach and online reach you will have as a brand, how much client or customer interaction you can provide to the potential sponsoring brand when they are onsite. Do it in a way that’s honest, engaging, and make sure it’s well presented, then find the right person to pitch. Just try and get them on the phone or find them in person, don’t just send an email and give up if they don’t respond.

Do you have anything to say about your experience with Brown Paper Tickets?

Ryan Crowther: When you are working with any vendor on a festival the best thing you can do for yourself and your event is to create relationships. You and Brown Paper Tickets have been responsive, supportive, and the fact that you are here in person taking interest in our festival is a perfect example of the kind of support that Brown Paper Tickets gives to event producers like me.

Get your tickets to the Fisherman’s Village Music Festival.

Music >

The Stress-Free Guide to Making Event Promo Videos

make-a-videoIt’s 2019 and time to get real. Video content is no longer a “nice-to-have”; it’s a “must-have.” According to OptinMonster, video marketers get 66% more qualified leads per year. Imagine what a good video campaign can do for your ticket sales.

Here’s a guide to creating a promo video for your event.

Start with Solid Goals

Start with a clear mission and well-defined goals. Are you trying to drive ticket sales, increase web traffic or boost awareness? Too many creative projects lose direction because of muddled goals in the beginning.

If you do a lot of events, perhaps you want to make a universal video that doesn’t point to a particular event but just grabs interest. This way you can reuse it for more than one event, tailoring each one to reflect the event that you are promoting.

Make a Creative Brief

First, take the time to figure out the feeling you want your video to convey and the key message you want your audience to take away.

Document your event promo video ideas in a creative brief – ad agencies and creative departments use briefs to nail down their goals and delegate action items.

Include a key messaging hierarchy, roles of all people involved, launch date and tentative work-back schedule.

Once you’ve figured out why you are making a video and where the video will end up (Facebook, YouTube, your website, your event page), it’s time to start on the creation process (aka the fun part). Hiring a professional isn’t your only option. Tools like allow you to create videos using stock video and graphic treatments.


According to Thumbtack, the average cost for a videographer to film your event is somewhere between $750 to $1,000.

Coastline Productions reports, “An industry rule of thumb estimates about $1,000 per finished minute of video for a quality presentation, but we find that we usually come in closer to $800 per minute for the typical 5-8 minute corporate video involving a script, voice talent, and illustrating footage.

Don’t knock the phone camera—believe it or not, there are plenty of successful videos out there that use them. Tripods and additional lenses for phones, as well as microphones can help make your phone video look high quality. Shoot test footage and watch it on a big screen to make sure it holds up.

Try and record the shot simultaneously on multiple cameras. This will allow you to set up for different angles or be able to choose the better quality recording of the two. When using multiple cameras, the devices should be similar to maintain continuity.

Creative Direction

This video promoted Know Your Value 2018. Note how it highlights each keynote speaker.

You can take a video in so many different creative directions. Before you begin the shoot, look for event promo videos that sing to your heart.

Possible creative directions:

  • Event documentary – Video of your past event to get people hyped for the next one.
  • Making of or behind the scenes – Interview keynote speakers or performers, show the prep work, rehearsals and your crew getting ready.
  • Informative – Straight-forward with plenty of captions, titles, a clear narrative, and visual aids. The goal is to inform people about the details of your event. A narrator may explain all the great aspects of your event including ticket prices, location, and what to expect.
  • Humorous – Use a joke as your main story line or create a funny situation. Just make sure it’s funny. As Aristotle said, “the secret to humor is surprise.”

Storyboards and Shot list

Once you have your concept and direction, put it on paper. Create the storyboards, write the script, and make shot lists. Share these with your crew.

You can hire someone to do this work for you or do it yourself, but don’t skip this step. Good organization ahead of time leads to a well-done video later.


Keep it simple. Use a template with squares printed on it or just fold a piece of paper in half—this will give you four panels (two front, two pack) per sheet. Each panel is a shot—try to draw your vision for each shot in the panel. Number each panel so you can make notes and create your shot list based on that.


Scripts should be written as true to the desired dialog as possible. Include actions such as *she sips her coffee* as well and explain the details of speech and action. It may be helpful to describe the scene before each round of dialog in order to set up the scene for the actors.

Your video script should include:

  • Each scene’s dialog in a conversational format. (Read your work aloud to make sure it sounds authentic)
  • Emotion descriptors to accompany each line
  • Helpful information on how to pronounce or enunciate any creative words or phrases.
  • A clear story with a beginning, middle, and end.

Once you have a completed script read and re-read it aloud editing as you go until it’s ready. Don’t be afraid to find a second person to help read and edit your script at this point.

When it is all wrapped up and ready to go, you will want to get all of your actors together and do a couple of table read through sessions. This will help get an idea of how it will sound in your video.

Shot list

It’s time for the shot list and production notes. Mark your script and storyboards to indicate what shots will go where. Number the shots and write your list with a lot of technical details, such as pan left, zoom in slowly, bird’s eye view to describe the angles and camera motions.

Consider your equipment. You may want an aerial view of the city, but if you’re on a tight budget and can’t afford a drone, it might not be doable.


Congrats – you made your first video. Now you can move on to the post-production phase. Editing requires patience and an eye for detail. You will also need a fairly powerful computer and video editing software.

Macs are popular for creative types because they support and even come with software installed for video. Applications, such as iMovie are definitely usable for novice film editors; they are just limited when it comes to animated transitions and the filter and special effect quality.

Whatever software you choose, watch the tutorial at least once and keep it bookmarked. Save your work often to an external hard drive. Redundant back ups are a really good idea with video (and really everything else), because it would be devastating to lose all that work.

Additional Event Promo Video Tips

Think carefully about length ahead of time and know where your video will appear. Web-friendly videos should be kept under a minute. For some applications, your video might need to be even shorter at 30-45 seconds, which goes fast when you’re trying to fit in your event details.

Keep in mind that when you post videos on Facebook and YouTube, you’ll have a spot to include text and links. So you can probably do without the “informational screen.” (You know, the one with your url, address, event details, and all that other stuff no one will be able to read.) Put the important details in the video description and focus on the visuals.

Final piece of advice—watch as many event promo videos as you can. Take notes on what you like and don’t like. Think about the technical details –what did they use to get the shot that you liked?

Do you have any tips? Let’s hear ’em.

Event Tips >

How to Turn Your Empty Space into an Event Venue

Turn-Property-Into-VenueYour perfect event venue awaits … but you might have to use your imagination to see it. Warehouses, restaurants, community centers, hair salons and even old farmhouses and barns can be transformed into beautiful concert halls, theaters, and meeting spaces.

If you own a space like this, you have to pay utilities and other expenses to keep it open. Special events and alternative venues are a good way to boost income during slow times and create a side revenue stream. All it takes is a little elbow grease and imagination.

Before we go any further, I invite you to sign up for the ‘Turn Your Empty Space into an Event Space’ webinar on September 10 at 11:00 am PST. The webinar will teach you how to take advantage of your space by turning it into an event venue. There will be a Q and A, so bring your questions.

Step 1: Pick the Event Type

Consider some of the following types of events as a jumping off point.

Chop, dice, blend. Just as there are tricks to making the perfect bisque, casserole or grilled cheese, there are methods to making your class rewarding for both student and teacher. Have a lesson plan and start small – teach basic dishes with limited ingredients. Read my past post on how to teach cooking classes.

Throw some new stuff out there. Pop-ups allow you to bring in fresh faces. If you have a restaurant, consider a night with a well-known specialty chef or even a secret supper. Transform your restaurant for the day and try something new and exciting. If you have a retail space, a pop-up sale or meet and greet with a designer could be fun. There are all kinds of popups.

Community Meetings
Offer to let community groups host meetings and functions in your establishment. Hold an appreciation event for one or more of these groups.

Wine and cheese. Beer and bacon. Tequila and tacos. Whatever pairing party you choose, it’s a great way to partner and cross-promote with local distilleries, breweries and wineries.

Release Party
Many micro-breweries and wineries do not have commercial kitchens. When it’s time to release their newest creation, they may want to step it up on the food. Host their events in your restaurant and create a special menu to complement their product.

Internal Training
Show newbies the ropes. Hold training sessions on food safety, etiquette, procedure and anything else employees need to know in your space.

Step 2: Take Inventory

Once you have a good idea of what type of event will work, take inventory of what your team and space have to offer. Brainstorm a list of possible partnerships—this is a great way to find talent, resources, or a sponsor. There are loads of opportunities externally and within your team.

If there’s a talented bartender on staff, ask them to teach a mixology class. Partner with a farmer to source local ingredients or have a renowned chef over for a pop-up night. Talent and product is one part of the equation, but you will also want to consider guest accommodations, equipment needs, and a few other logistics.

Take inventory of all equipment needed to pull off your event—tables, chairs, plates, anything else needed to accommodate your guests and the event.

Keep your budget low to ensure your event is economically viable and will allow you to maximize profit.

Step 3: Select a Date

The date and time that you select for your event can really affect the turnout. Check local listings, online ticketing companies, and community calendars for any major events or happenings in your area.

Your draw will be better if you pick the right date. Also, look into construction that may affect traffic, parking and public transportation.

When you avoid planning your event on the same day as something major goings on, holidays, or an events your potential draw will most likely be better. Try to also be aware of construction that may affect traffic, parking, and public transportation needs and limitations.

Much like other businesses, events have a ‘break even point’ that equates to a certain number of guests in attendance. The more guests attending beyond that number, the higher your profit margin will be.

Step 4: Have a Happy Event

A happy team is a productive team that passes their genuine enjoyment on to your guests. This is one of those intangible factors that really make an event special. The energy of a well-prepared and happy team can keep people coming back to just about any event.

Cutting cost where you can, is necessary with any event, but the staff is not the place to do it. The service, not the food and drink are at the core of the event and make it all work.

Thinking of setting up an event and need some help? Get in touch.

Event Tips >

9 Simple Ways to Reduce Event Planning Stress

Event-Planning-StressEvent Coordinator made Forbes’ list of The Most Stressful Jobs in 2017 and (as you’re probably aware) it’s for good reason. Events have a lot of moving parts–everything from budget to promotion to managing those long lines out the door.

Get in the mental game before your next event with these tried-and-true tips:

1. Compartmentalize

Compartmentalizing isn’t always a bad thing. It can even be a valuable skill when organizing an event because it helps you isolate one challenge from all of the others. When getting started, keep tasks separate and clearly defined. Use different colored notepads, pens, or labels to designate different types of tasks (staff, venue logistics, promotion, etc). Switching between different colors will allow your mind to recognize that you’re focusing on different tasks. Use these 5 steps of compartmentalization to get in the practice of compartmentalizing before your next event.

2. Stay Organized

Take notes and lots of them, but make sure that you aren’t just writing down thought fragments. Note-taking is most effective when you can filter out needless information. Think of your notes as detailed instructions for somebody who has no idea what’s going on in your mind.

3. Eat Well and Hydrate

When you’re busy, healthy eating and hydration tend to slip. But they’re crucial. Keep quick snacks on hand, like fruit, nuts, or veggies and hummus. Focus on sources of protein, fiber, and healthy fats to provide the sustained energy you need, and avoid sugary snacks, chips, and other convenience foods. Find a water bottle you love and keep it with you at all times.

4. Get Plenty of Rest

We all need to recharge our batteries. Event planners tend to work long into the evening and often don’t get enough down time. Try to schedule a couple 15-minute breaks per day, where you don’t think about the event at all. If you’re having trouble getting enough sleep at night, take a power nap. According to this article, the ideal power nap takes place between 1-4 PM and is between 10-30 minutes long.

5. Don’t Overthink

Indecision can create confusion, frustration, and ultimately leave you mentally exhausted. Once you’ve made a decision, trust your instincts and stick to your guns. Of course, there are always scenarios that will force you to change things and hopefully, that happens early in the planning process. When making major decisions such as venue or date, find as many viable options as you can and weigh the pros and cons carefully. Then, go with the best option for your situation.

6. Communicate

Be clear in your communication with every person that’s involved in planning, promoting, and putting on your event. When working with vendors, repeat everything that is agreed upon back to them in an email so you have it all in writing. Also repeat important details to your staff, venue managers, friends who are helping, and even potential attendees. Double-checking that all parties are clear on what’s happening helps events run smoothly. Soon this will become second nature, freeing up your mind to focus on other tasks.

7. Stick to What You Know

You can’t be an expert at everything. If you aren’t sure how to set up a buffet for example, now may not be the time to learn. Delegate, so you can focus on your strengths. Find someone on your team who has the skill or hire out if the budget allows. It will take the weight off of you and ensure the task is done and done well.

The better your event is planned and executed, the happier your attendees will be and the more likely they will be to attend future events.

8. Prepare for Things to Break

Here’s the deal: Things will go wrong. Expect the worst, but don’t panic when it happens—it could be as simple as the caterer having to slightly alter the menu or as disastrous as a pipe bursting at your venue the day before your event. Instead of freaking out (waste of time and energy), regroup and come up with a plan of action.

If you need to cancel or postpone your event, begin communicating it to everyone immediately—your team, attendees, ticketing company, and all of your vendors. If the worst happens and the event can’t go on, consider postponing your event instead of a flat-out cancellation. Postponing can save you money, help maintain relationships with all involved, retain attendees, and spare you from the process of re-planning the entire event. Take a deep breath and carry on. Keep in mind that if you have to cancel an event, you can reach us 24/7 and our specialists will help walk you through the process.

9. Implement Rewards

It’s important to be rewarded for your efforts. Setting goals and pre-determined rewards will help you keep motivated. Maybe it’s an event finale, like fireworks, a wrap-up bonfire, or staff party. Or maybe it’s simpler and more individual, like sleeping in the night after the event or cracking open a new book. If you’re working with a team, keep morale up by treating them to coffee once in awhile and giving “thank you” favors after the event.

Remember, happy people are productive people. Treat your crew well and congratulate yourself when it’s all over–putting on a successful event is a huge accomplishment.

Event Tips >

Top 5 Beer Events (And Tips for Success)

Fact: people love beer. It has been popular in the U.S. since well before the English formed the first colonies–it was recently discovered that the Indigenous people of North America brewed beer with corn and birch sap (and other ingredients) 800+ years ago. Cool huh?

Now the beer industry is thriving with millions of fans lining up for their favorite brew.

In honor of Seattle Beer Week and American Craft Beer Week, we’ve outlined the top five types of craft beer events and included a few tips for each. If you are interested in hosting or ticketing beer events, call us and we’ll walk you through the process.

1. Beer Pairings (er…Beerings)

Beer pairings (craft beer paired with different types of food) are one of the most common beer events. To sell tickets, event organizers must stand out. Atmosphere is everything—carefully consider every detail, from lighting to music and the texture of the napkins.

2. Beer Releases

Beer lovers live for bottle drops, a definite way to engage your fan base. Also a great way to sell craft beer. Before you begin your beer release, have a good sense of your supply and demand and check that you have set up the online sale to run smoothly. Beer releases usually bring in waves of traffic – if something happens that disrupts your sales, such as a site crash, don’t panic. Call us 24/7, 7 days a week and our staff will help you out.

3. Food Truck Battles

Many breweries focus on craft beer and beer alone and leaving the grub to experts. Our event specialists are finding a new and exciting food truck culture thriving in the parking lots of local breweries. Food trucks have come a long way in the last 10 years and are now serving up some of the most delectable, sought cuisine in the city. However, it’s no longer a “trend” and is now a “thing,” and thus, it’s harder for food trucks to stand out.

Pick a theme for your food truck battle. Establish a common thread because judging a battle between opposite styles is challenging. Simplify the rules and judging process and be up front about them.

4. Community and Charity Events

Giving back builds relationships and creates a positive and long-lasting impression. Hosting an event for charity, a block party, or industry-specific mixer are all great ways to get your brew’s name out there. When planning your event, involve your community as much as possible. Hire local talent, buy local supplies and recruit local staff. You’ll build a larger, more integrated community and your neighborhood’s denizens will flock to future events.

5. Live Entertainment

Adding live entertainment to brewery events can be hard work, but might really pay off. Open mics, comedy, local music nights, trivia, karaoke or game nights draw the public to come hang out.

The drawback? Entertainment costs money, requires a lot of gear, know-how, time and energy, but still can be worth it.

Be honest and up front both about what you can afford to pay and what you expect to get out of it.

Vet entertainers, sound engineers and promoters in advance to ensure they can provide what you need. Pay them fairly and promptly. Even if it seems pricey, as long as it accomplishes your goals, it’s worth it. Be kind and give plenty of notice if it’s not working out.

Most people in the entertainment industry are passionate and love what they do, but at the end of the day, will still need to pay their bills. Keeping good relationships with acts you have hired will build respect and trust, which in turn will benefit you and your efforts in hosting fantastic craft beer events.

Celebrating Seattle Beer Week? Check out the 25 best Seattle breweries, selected by our food and beverage specialist.

Food & Drink >

Your Complete Guide to Event Appetizers

Appetizers, Hors d'oeuvres, Canapes for Events Tasty, unique hors d’oeuvres set the right impression at the beginning of your event.  But doing them well takes some work. From budget to staff to timing, here’s everything you need to know to create amazing hors d’oeuvres and appetizers.


Before you decide on your menu, determine your budget. Be realistic and flexible. Local, fresh, and simple is always best. Form friendships with area food producers. If you have a relationship with a beet farmer for example, borscht shots could make a nice bite (err… sip).

The general rule for light appetizers is two to three bites per person, per item, and two beverages each.  This means if you have 100 guests you will need 300 of each bite-sized appetizer (usually at least three different items).  Not every item will be super popular, so mix and match quantities.

Event Staff

Depending on the complexity, you can usually get away with one person doing the food prep for up to fifty people, so you are looking at a team of four to five. Plan to have at least one person serve each item you offer.

Appetizer Menu Tips

The menu for an event with hors d’oeuvres can be challenging. Seek ingredients that can be prepared in bulk ahead of time that will retain their flavor and freshness. Consider putting them together in batches to ensure quality.

Keeping the recipes simple will not only help cut your prep and labor time, it will reflect in your food costs as you’ll need less. Make sure your servers know about what they’re offering so they can explain where you sourced the ingredients.

Other tips:

1. The timing for your event will determine food and beverage needs. If you’re only serving appetizers, plan the event at least an hour after a typical meal period, so guests have a chance to fill up first. Your attendees will get to hang out a little longer and savor your appetizers rather than try to make a meal of them.

2. Bulk up on your appetizers if you are serving alcohol. Also, limit the size of each alcoholic beverage to ensure pacing for your guests.  Over ordering and over pouring are top event planning mistakes. Over ordering increases costs dramatically and over pouring can increase the amount of inebriated and obnoxious guests.

3. Dress the part, and set clear attire rules for staff.  The service staff should dress in a uniform manner to make it obvious that they are there to serve the guests. No need to go super fancy; if your event is casual, a black t-shirt, jeans and name tag works well.

4. Educate your staff on the preparation and ingredients of each bite. The more your servers know, the more accommodated your guests will feel should they have allergies, dietary preferences, or are just curious.  It’s also impressive for your staff to be knowledgeable about the food and wine.

5. Pace your trays and rotate the items on them regularly. Create paths or walkways with tape for your servers to follow. This ensures that there is even coverage throughout the venue, and you can rotate the different appetizers, one on each path.  If you assign a specific person to each path it will be easier for them to rotate trays on their own.

6. Set clear expectations for attendees regarding the style of service. Spend time “on the floor” at your event to chat up your guests and alleviate any frustrations.

7. Place receptacles for napkins and other refuse in obvious locations throughout your venue.  There is nothing worse than carrying around a piece of trash while you are trying to mingle and participate in an event. Receptacles should be plentiful and clearly marked for your guests.

8. Be a ringleader. When you are hosting an event with passed appetizers, you’re directing traffic and hosting at the same time–unless you have hired a catering company, and even in that case, you still need to keep an eye on the food. Set reminders on your phone and stay organized.

9. Work with your team to talk, taste, and teach in an open and friendly manner.

In the midst of planning an event? We’ve got great event tips and resources for every type of event, from classes to festivals.

Event Tips >

10 Steps to a Better Restaurant Event, Just in Time for Mother’s Day Brunch

Mothers-Day-BrunchValentine’s Day dinner. Mother’s Day brunch. New Year’s Eve. Pop-up night.

If you’re in the restaurant industry, you know these days are all about efficiency. You need to get as many diners in and away from their tables as possible without a hitch.

Look at your tables as well-planned events and you can increase profits substantially. Ticketing your tables as events allows you to slot out times diners will be seated and served.


You can also determine:

  • How many heads to expect
  • What they want to eat and drink
  • A specific refund policy to eliminate costly no-shows

Don’t do all of your tables at once. Start with one section, so the rest of your staff can operate as they normally would and you don’t have to reorganize everything. Select your strongest servers for the ticketed tables and make sure they are good clock-watchers.

Inform the kitchen of the time-sensitive aspect of turning these tables and see if you can work with the chef to prioritize those.

1. Create Your Event Page

Once you have your team excited and on board, it’s time to set up your event page.  There are lots of ways that you can customize your Brown Paper Tickets event page, however, simple and clean always works best. If you set it up in a way that’s too complicated, the page will confuse potential customers.

Here’s an example event page for a Valentine’s Pre-Fixe dinner. Trouble setting it up? Email me for a consultation.

2. Set Up Specific Table Sizes

You don’t want to discourage larger groups, but set your floor in advance and have a clear section created. Even if you create a clear section, you can still make it flexible.

For example, if you are hosting a Mother’s Day brunch and want to keep things fluid, create a variety of various-sized tables as options. If you get a special request, you can always direct them to the general seating portion of your restaurant.

3. Develop a Pre-Fixe Menu

Develop a pre-fixe menu with a few options for each course, and include a dessert, such as chocolate-covered strawberries or mousse. Make the dishes simple to modify (diners will want to modify them) and to help the kitchen out with the volume, be clear there is no splitting.

4. Have a Few Pre-Selected Wine Options

Make sure they are good options and that you have plenty. The price point should be reasonable, since you are charging more for the pre-fixe and other aspects of the service. Emphasize the time slot ending to your servers so they can manage lingering slow pokes.

If you allot the proper amount of time based on your service style, it should work out well. Don’t make anyone wait more than a minute or two to be seated.

5. Set Clear Policies

Set up clear policies for lateness, no-shows, cancellations, and up charges.

This way your staff and customers are all on the same page.  In my opinion, gratuity should be separate and up to the customer, but speak to your team and find out what works best.

You can always add the gratuity to the registration price on Brown Paper Tickets and cash your servers out later.

The refund policy language should relay the worst-case scenario such as, “absolutely no refunds.” You can still have mercy and refund someone, but this phrase covers your bases in case of a blatant no-show.

6. Check Local Calendars for Events

If there is a play, musical, or other event, use the show times to set your schedule. For example, if the first showing is at 6:45, your first time slot should end around 6:15, thus giving your customers enough time to get to the show. You can reach out to the theaters and offer to cross promote as well, maybe even bundle the show tickets with your meal to create a “dinner and a show” price level.

7.  Keep It Fun and Stay Positive

Special nights are slammin’ busy.  Keep your staff happy and it will transfer to guests. Buy your helpers some chocolate or prepare a staff meal, and project the good vibes yourself.  Keeping the energy level and morale up will pay off when your customers leave happy and on-time. There is no substitute for genuine positivity–it is the heart and soul of good service.

8. Remember, Scoop and Serve is Your Friend

Ask servers to scoop ice cream, ladle soup, garnish desserts, plate chocolate-covered strawberries, and perform other tasks to help them control the flow of their sections.  This also takes pressure off of the kitchen staff, which is always a good idea.  Provide a little training for your service staff, and watch in wonderment when they are garnishing beautifully presented dishes for your guests.

9.  Leave a Lasting Impression

Ticketing your tables is not just a good way to increase efficiency during a special event date.  If you can really pull it off and make a lasting impression, your guests will come back.

Every aspect of the restaurant is pushed to perform at its peak to provide the optimal event experience. Keep the expectations realistic and stay true to your goals, the organization and pre-planning will do the rest.

10. Test All Your Options

When planning your big night, it’s important to account for every possible issue that may arise.  Ensure that the set-up is right for your restaurant’s flow and service style.  Try a soft opening or trial run before the big day—that way, you can gather feedback and make adjustments ahead of time.

Have questions, tips or thoughts? Comment below. Or email me and I’ll help you you get started.

Food & Drink >

How to Take Your (Boring) Corporate Snack Table to the Next Level

food-catering-eventsYou’ve seen this setup at everything from networking events to author readings to workshops: a table with platters of cheese, crackers, crudités, and other assorted munchies.

If you’re lucky, hot water for tea and coffee. If you’re really lucky, cheap wine or beer.

As long as the vegetables are crisp and the coffee, caffeinated, there’s nothing wrong with this setup. But a next-level snack table creates positive memories of your event and keeps guests mingling and occupied while your staff works on all the behind-the-scenes stuff.

There’s a big difference between an event starting 10 minutes behind schedule with a snack table and an event starting 10 minutes behind schedule without one.

To Cater or Not to Cater?

If you are going to make your own snacks you can potentially save cash, but only if you have the time. Forgo the caterer and you’ll spend precious hours shopping and planning.

You can always order a few bulk items from a restaurant and fill in the rest on your own.

Whatever you decide, to keep your attendees satiated, focus on protein-rich foods like hummus, cheese, cured meats, smoked or cured seafood, and whole grain breads and crackers. Offer a wide range and make sure to accommodate dietary restrictions.

Don’t settle for under-ripe melon and rubbery Crudités—select high quality, local and fresh. Go to the Farmer’s Market late in the day and ask vendors for deals on “ugly produce.” Once prepared, funny-shaped vegetables still look and taste fantastic.

Add Your Own Twist to Classic Party Snacks

Chex Mix is ubiquitous at snack tables. Take it to the next level with Thai curry paste, chili powder or miso. The same flavorful twist concept can be done with other “retro snacks,” like deviled eggs, smoke salmon or the classic cheese ball.

Avoid cookies, chips, soda and other types of processed junk food (except the Chex Mix). Not only does it run up costs, it takes away from your style and originality. Make your own popcorn, chips or trail mix instead—whatever you create will taste and look better than the packaged stuff.

Keep the table tidy. Arrange serving vessels, utensils, napkins, cups, and serving implements. Expect to be extra busy the day of your event, so perhaps delegate snack table cleanup to another team member. And don’t forget to place clearly labeled recycling, compost and trash bins around the venue.

Go Lux with a Local Chef

If you have the budget for it, consider hiring a local chef to create next-level eats. Many restaurants have catering options—reach out to the ones you like. If you offer it up as a sponsorship, you may even get a discount rate.

Before you approach a chef or catering company, consider the following:

  • Make sure the timing of your event doesn’t clash with their busy days, typically Thursday through Saturday
  • Plan far in advance. Busy season or not, the restaurant will appreciate having a solid lead on filling your catering request. 

Set realistic expectations for what you would like to have made, especially if you are on a tight budget.  This will allow the chef to relax and focus on what they do best, rather than work off a complicated list.
  • Focus on quality.  Remember that many event organizers aren’t putting the thought in care into their snack tables as you are.  A nice spread will help you stand out and get your guests’ attention, which creates return attendees.

Whatever your idea of the perfect snack table is, eating socially creates a sense of comfort and community. When you genuinely want to impress people through food, it shows.

What’s your favorite event snack? Ring in below and our food and beverage specialist may give you a few ideas on how to prepare it at your next event.

Event Tips >

9 Ways to Grow Event Attendance

grow-event-attendanceLike growing orchids, growing event attendance is tough—it takes a careful balance of creativity, consistency, community, and customer retention.  In a competitive market such as craft brewing, most may be tempted to isolate events from the competition, but building a cooperative events community benefits everyone and may even boost event attendance. When you work together, you can share resources and attendees and even recommend each other’s events.


Here are 9 ways grow event attendance by forming a cooperative events community:

1. Research events in your area

Create a calendar of all events in your area and in your niche. This will ensure that you aren’t having a similar one around the same day as your peers. Knowing what the rest of your events community is doing will help you adjust your strategy. You can then change your event’s date, time, pricing, and theme to make it more appealing to your attendees.

2. Be present at event industry happenings

Introduce yourself to the other business-owners in your area who have similar events. Letting people know who you are and what you do is a great way to get the ball rolling. Compliment their projects and offer to share resources.  Half of the effort is just being present and available for conversation.  Who knows? You might make some great new friends along the way.

3. Invite and include relentlessly

Reach out to other event organizers in your market and invite them to third party events, functions, happy hour, or even to your own event. Offer your event discount or comp the tickets if possible.  It may take you some time and effort before you get a taker, and then again it may not.  Either way, extend the olive branch and make it apparent that you have good intentions. You have nothing to lose.

Be consistent with your engagement; make sure that you leave a positive and lasting impression.

4. Be kind and patient

It’s important to treat others in your events community with respect and kindness whenever you reach out. Follow the golden rule, “treat others as they would treat you.” You may find some resistance and encounter folks that aren’t all peace and chicken grease, but all you can do is be patient and move on when necessary.

5. Collaborate and share

Find ways to work with other event organizers in your market, and have a blast doing it.  If you are launching a new product, invite your new friends. Swap venues, pick out a third-party venue together, share ingredients, exchange recipes, create a product together or do a cross promotion.

Give it a try, and see the wonderment of your attendees as they enjoy a pro-event created by two or more of their favorite event organizers.

6. Communicate well

It helps to figure out how people prefer to communicate.  Some like e-mail while others prefer face-to-face interaction. Take note of what communication channels get the best results.  Knowing their preferences will take the pressure off. For example, you won’t fret so much if you haven’t had an e-mail returned for a while by someone who prefers phone calls. Consider your communication needs too and let your acquaintances know what they are when you exchange contact information.

7. Follow through on promises

Follow-through goes a long way in life and an extra long way in the often hectic events community. Knowing that you can count on someone in a pinch is clutch when it comes to organizing events, as I’m sure you realize. Consistency and reliability are outstanding ways to win the favor of the cooperative events community.

8. Evaluate accurately

Measure twice and cut once when you are planning an event. If you are going to offer a collaboration or cooperative promotion, make sure it benefits all parties involved. Some efforts, whether toward a relationship or an event simply aren’t worth the time. Dig in, list and evaluate benefits and pitfalls. Then you can re-calibrate and try again if you make a mistake.

9. Break bread

All work and no play makes for a dull and weary events community.  Get folks together over a meal and try to create long-lasting relationships.  It shouldn’t be too difficult—these guests share your same interests and operate in the same community. Eating a meal together is a deeper way to connect, and it takes a lot of the pressure off.  It doesn’t need to be a big formal event; in fact it may be better to host a potluck or barbecue.

Letting your guard down a bit to share food and laughs can cause a ripple that will carry your community for a long time.

Event Tips >

Farming Events: Getting Started

As a small farm owner I can tell you that the struggle is real, and you need to hustle to make ends meet. More and more farmers are turning to events to add another revenue stream while marketing their brand and engaging the community. If you are getting started with your farm events – or maybe just trying to refresh your current efforts – you should take a few steps into consideration.

Going it alone with Special Meal Events

If you have the knowledge, skills and resources you can consider hosting your own on-site special food events. You may still need a hand with the dishes, but at least you will be in the drivers seat. It may be difficult to get the buzz out about these types of events at first so don’t get discouraged. Stick to what you know and keep your number of guests where you can handle it – cooking for 6 people is very different from 12. Try finding events that are similar to what you want to do and attend a couple. Think of it as market research that involves delicious food, drink, and event some new friends. This is a great way to meet people that like to attend farm to table dinners and that is good for your budding new endeavor.

Power in Numbers, Collaborating Farm to Table

Pair with local restaurants and chefs to do exclusive farm to dinner events. You can start by researching the various dining establishments in your area. Research the different restaurants that host special events and try them out. Having a meal and drink at the place to get a feel for the style and quality is an important part of the vetting process. It far better to realize this earlier on in the game since it takes time to build regular event attendees and it can be rough to rebuild if the partnership ends. Talk to the chef and offer to provide some food for a special farm to table dinner at their place. Chefs obviously love food so make sure you select the best of what your farm has to offer for this meal. You can turn this event into a pairing dinner with a local.

Classes and Workshops

Many people want to learn how to farm – and the more small farms out there the better! Everyone is good at something, what are you/your farm exceptional at? Turn this into a lecturing farm tour, class, workshop, or demonstration. Perhaps you are exceptional at baking bread, or making wine? It’s crucial that you are extremely organized and prepare yourself well in advance for this. Once you have decided what you might be good at you can turn it into an event. If teaching is something you haven’t done before you should attend some different workshops, classes, or other educational events to get an idea of what you are up against. Teaching is in our basic human nature, but it may take some real soul searching for you to figure out if it’s for you. Brown Paper Tickets has many resources for putting together classes if you have any questions.

Think Outside the Box

Maybe mealtime events or teaching classes isn’t for you. The fact remains you still have some pretty exciting things happening on the farm. Hosting other unique events can still help build community and grow your farm business. Hayrides, pumpkin hurling, sack races, and corn mazes are also great options. Do you have a big open field and love the wind in your hair? Maybe a lawnmower race fits. Before you start busing droves of kids out to pick their own pumpkin, sit down and plan it out. Similar to the other event ideas shared in this post, you will want to go through the logistics of what you plan to do. Seeing your ideas on paper might help you get an idea of what specifically you are prepared for event wise.


Now you have an idea of how to get started. Remember if at first you don’t succeed give our resident event experts a call and let them help you get things going. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff is available 24 hours a day to assist you with every step of the process. From start to finish; from event creation to promotions, we’ve got you covered.

Contact our 24/7 Support Staff if you have any questions about creating your Farm event or class: 800-838-3006×4 or

Event Tips >