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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.

Classes
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.

Pop-Ups
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.

Pairings
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 2017 “Most Stressful Jobs” list of 2017 and (you’re probably aware) it’s for good reason. Events have a lot of moving parts–everything from budget to promotion to organizing those long lines out the door.

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

1. Compartmentalize.

Compartmentalizing is a valuable skill when organizing an event. It’s isolating one challenge from all of the others. When getting started, keep tasks separate and clearly defined. Make several lists, using different colored notepads, such as a green notepad for staff and a yellow one for venue logistics. Switching between lists and notes will allow your mind to recognize you’re focusing on different tasks. It also comes in handy when delegating work to others because you can easily find and hand them a copy of the to-do list. 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 strain 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, eating healthy and drinking water tends to slip. But it’s crucial. Nuts, fruit, grains, granola and raw veggies give the sustained energy you need. A quality protein bar will work, but 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. Give yourself real breaks when you aren’t thinking about the event or doing anything strenuous. Prioritize sleep and 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 vs. cons carefully. Then go with the best option for your situation.

6. Communicate.

Be clear in your communication with every person that is involved with 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, even potential attendees. Double-checking that all parties are clear on what’s happening helps events run smoothly. Once you have established and practiced this protocol, your mind is freed up to then focus on other tasks.

You can apply this clarity to your promotional efforts as well, which will help you in turn get more people to the event.

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, just don’t do it. Delegate, so you can focus on the things you are skilled in. 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 every aspect of your event is planned and executed, the happier your attendees will be and 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), 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 your event will 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 go on. Keep in mind that if you have to cancel an event, you can reach us 24/7 and our staff 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 – 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–having an event is a huge deal.

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.

Budget

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 Support@BrownPaperTickets.com

Event Tips >

Recipe: Double Chocolate Truffles

Our Farm and Food Specialist Patrick shared his delectable Double Chocolate Truffle recipe, just in time for Valentine’s Day. Enjoy!

 

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES

Total time: 3 hours
Yields: about 24 pieces

1/2 pound bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 pound semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons coffee Liqueur (optional)
1 tablespoon brewed coffee or espresso
1/2 teaspoon real vanilla extract
Cocoa powder for coating

Special equipment: Heat proof glass bowl that fits a sauce pan as a double boiler

Combine bittersweet and semisweet chocolate in a heat resistant glass bowl.

In a sauce pan over medium heat bring your heavy cream to a boil.

Pour the boiling cream over your chocolate and add remaining liquid ingredients.

Place your bowl over a saucepan with two inches of simmering water in the bottom.

Stir everything together until a smooth ganache has been accomplished.

Allow mixture to cool for 5 minutes, then chill for two hours.

Scoop into 1 tablespoon portions and roll into balls.

Roll in coco powder, chopped nuts, sprinkles, spice blends, or whatever you like.

Chill for another 30 minutes, then enjoy.

 

Food & Drink >

20 Ways to Keep Costs Down At Your Next Food and Beverage Event

A cost-effective food and beverage event takes hard work, attention to detail and careful planning, but it can be done.

Here are 20 ways to save money and trim the fat without compromising quality:

1. Act extra nice when negotiating costs and dealing with service providers. If you’re polite and reasonable when asking for a better deal, chances are you’ll get it.

2. Avoid peak season when choosing your event date. Book during off-peak, when there aren’t a lot of other events going on. More events mean rigid and higher prices.

3. Make a list of all the essentials and have at least five options with reasonable prices for each. More options will make it easier to shuffle things around and cut costs.

4. Set a clear, reasonable budget and stick to it. Knowing how much you can spend from the beginning will help you prioritize when planning your event.

5. Partner with other makers and producers. If you are hosting a wine dinner, ask a winery you like to sponsor your event. These relationships often work out well for both parties, as you can help get their name out.

6. Choose reasonably priced beverages. The beverage industry is packed with affordable, high-quality beverage options. Shop around and taste everything—not only is it fun, it will give you a chance to save some cash.

7. Buy in-season produce and flowers. You will not only discover the freshest local ingredients and blooms, you will find cheaper prices due to the abundance.

8. Borrow what you don’t have. Reach out to friends and family and ask if they have what you need for your event. You never know—Nana might have a closet full of stylish vintage cutlery and tablecloths ready to show off.

9. Portion control is one of the biggest ways to save money with a food and beverage event. Keep an eye on the RSVP list but wait until your headcount is confirmed to do your shopping.

10. Negotiate everything. A price tag doesn’t mean the price is set in stone. You can also offer something in exchange—naming the caterer to reduce food costs. Always ask and always be polite.

11. Keep your event casual. Formal events require a lot of little extras and your guests will appreciate laid-back, let-loose vibe. A causal event also offers flexibility when it comes to venue selection—for example, air conditioning might not be necessary if guests can wear t-shirts and shorts.

12. Skip the DJ and make your own playlist. Download your own music or use an app like Spotify.

13. Don’t over serve. Everyone should get enough food and alcohol, but ensure your food and beverage portions are reasonable to eliminate waste and save money.

14. Keep registration simple. Eliminate the need for the guest to do anything beyond registering. This will free up labor that would normally be spent answering emails and taking calls from confused attendees.

15. Plan your marketing budget carefully. Appeal to food bloggers and use social media to promote your events. These methods are significantly cheaper than purchasing ad space or a radio spot.

16. Choose your venue carefully. Instead of getting quotes from 5 different venues, try 10. Once you have quotes and understand the pros and cons of each venue, you can start to negotiate. Ask them to come down on the costs if you really like the space, but have a cheaper option on your list.

17. Source reasonably priced food when ingredient shopping. Finding high quality ingredients at a fair price is easier than you think—you just have to shop around. Head to farmers markets late in the day and you will get a good deal when buying large quantities of an item.

18. Do a plated meal instead of a buffet. Serving food portioned for each guest will give you complete control over food cost. If you want to go more casual, have a set amount of light appetizers (between 3-5 pieces per person).

19. Pair wine, beer, or cider with each course. Prix fixe beverage selection and meals will allow you to tailor the guests’ experience and control portions at the same time.

20. Reduce, reuse and recycle. Avoid using disposable products and minimize food/water waste. Going green reduces costs and helps the planet.

Event Tips >