As an event professional, you or a team member are likely tasked with marketing your venue’s private events program. There are the usual strategies — like social media, email marketing, and your website. But what more can you do to get clients to book with you?
One creative tactic: hosting food or drink tastings in your event space.
This is a great way to highlight what your business brings to the table. More importantly, you can showcase what makes you stand out. Even better? Tastings are something you can do in person or online — ask customers to come by and pick up a box of the food or drinks you’re tasting and then join you virtually on Zoom to experience the event.
Below, we explore eight actions you can take to host a successful tasting that may turn a patron into an event client.
1. Be strategic about timing
It may seem like a weekday evening is the ideal time to host a tasting (happy hour, anyone?). But it turns out, data shows the ideal time is on weekend afternoons, at least when it comes to beer events. Foodable recommends aiming for that time between lunch and dinner on a Saturday or a Sunday. This will help maximize your chances of garnering the most guests.
2. Pick a theme
An easy way to draw patrons to your tasting is by planning it around a theme. It could be based on a certain region (like Spanish red wine varietals) or a season (like a selection of the best springtime rosés). Depending on your bandwidth, you can draw out this theme within the tasting invites, the menus, or even your venue’s decor.
3. Make it a win-win
When it comes to tastings, experts say it’s wise to incorporate some new wines into your menu to tie in extended marketability. Thus, you should consider what areas of your wine list need improving or revamping. This can apply to food items too — like featuring a cheese you’re considering adding to your charcuterie options. You can also use your tasting time to ask patrons their thoughts on the offerings, either in person or via comment card.
4. Encourage guests to return
A tasting isn’t as successful as it could be if it doesn’t result in the attendee returning to your business. Sweeten the deal by offering a 10 percent discount or an extra amenity thrown in (like a gift card) if the tasting attendee books an event at your venue within a certain timeframe, like within six months.
5. Get creative in the kitchen
Tastings are also a wonderful opportunity to let your food menu shine. Pair your beer or wines with a selection of signature appetizers or small versions of your bestselling dishes. This lets your kitchen show off what they can do. Beer with pretzels and crostinis with wine are classic combos, but for a memorable experience, why not think outside the box (ricotta and sage fried meatballs, anyone?)
6. Preview your event offerings
Let your tasting double as a behind-the-scenes glimpse at what parties look like in your private or semi-private event space. You don’t have to go all out like you’re hosting an elaborate wedding, but it’s a good idea to add touches that’ll help patrons envision their event at your venue. It can be as simple as soft lighting, floral arrangements, and special linens.
7. Consider tastings with a local twist
It’s no secret: diners love a menu with locally-sourced ingredients. Consider extending this to your tasting by adding some local flair. You can feature a list of all-local beers, or apps made exclusively with local cheese or meat. Bonus points if they’re new iterations that aren’t widely available.
8. Assemble a team of experts
No trained sommelier on your staff? No problem. It’s likely your wine salesperson or distributor will be able to recommend someone who’d be perfect for the job. You can also leverage these connections to make sure you’re picking wines that will complement each other and that you don’t leave anything out when it comes to the planning process.
Your creativity will lead to more event bookings
Now that you know what it takes to host a stellar tasting that’ll turn into private event success, find out how Tripleseat can help streamline private events at your venue.