For private dining guests, the holiday season can be a time filled with expectations, anxiety, and joy as they look forward to planning the company holiday party or a family reunion. For the restaurateur, event planning can be a nightmare. Guests may call at all hours of the night, make insufferable demands, and complain about every detail of the dining experience. Avoiding such nightmare scenarios begins with the very first guest meeting.
Laying the groundwork for a good guest relationship communication is the ultimate tool for any restaurant owner or manager engaging in event planning. Guests need to know what to expect just as much as you need to know what the guest needs. Having a checklist of questions is a great tool to get communication started off on the right foot.
What to ask new special event guests
• What special event are you planning?
• What time and date would you prefer for your special event?
• How many guests are you expecting?
• What is the mood for your event? (casual, somber, formal, fun)
• How many staff members will your event require?
• What menu would you like served?
• Do you require any special provisions? (such as a food allergy, only kosher foods, or a special food request)
• Could you explain your vision for your special event? (This gives you an idea of any potential problems that might arise. It also will bring to attention any additional services needed, such as rental equipment, permits, or extra staffing.)
In addition to outlining the event with the guest, you will want to be up front about your expectations and regulations.
Things to review with the special events guest
• Facility regulations and prohibitions (alcohol regulations, fire safety, and occupancy limits)
• Location of restrooms, exits, and amenities
• Areas that are off-limits to guests
• Rules regarding open flames, smoking, and outside food and beverages
• Who is responsible for clean up following the event
• Gratuities and additional fees incurred during the event
• Specifics of the cancellation policy
• Contact information and hours of availability for support staff
• Resolution of conflict procedure
• Services provided by the restaurant, and which services are provided by outside sources
• Hours that the guest will have access to the facility for set-up
• Special amenities provided
• Contract or rental agreement details, including deposits and extra fees
Providing friendly, honest communication lays the groundwork for a great relationship with the guest. This includes listening to the guest’s needs and wants while making your own guidelines crystal clear. Ambiguity creates confusion and dishonesty results in conflict. Clear communication mixed with friendly professionalism is always a winning combination for business interactions.
These checklists are provided as a generic outline, suitable for all types of private dining arenas. We encourage you to take these guidelines and personalize them for use in your own business to help with events planning and meeting the needs of your special events guests.