Whether you’re an event planner who is furloughed or currently working, one thing is for certain: we all still want to book! It’s a no-brainer that consistent contact with clients will keep you at the top of their minds when it is time to plan a private event (i.e. networking). For many, networking felt unnatural when you could talk in person, so imagine how strange it must be to try and engage with customers when you can’t even see them!
What does that mean for our industry? Will our attempts to reach out to customers be as easily ignored as a phone call or an email? I think more, now than ever, it’s a great time to connect. Not only do many of our customers have the time to listen in on our stories and offerings, but much of the world has an interest in supporting the hospitality industry. It’s no secret that restaurants and bars have been pushing carry out items to entice their customers, but this is also a great time to introduce your restaurant to new potential business.
As far as networking with other industry professionals, it almost seems necessary for some of us who need the comradery of others in our same situation. Sometimes connecting in times of need can be just the thing that parlays a relationship into a future collaboration. Today, I’m sharing 3 ways you can network while in quarantine and stack your business up for when it’s time to open.
1. Network with professionals.
Bizbash holds ‘Conversations From the Inside’ each week, where planners can register to listen to several industry leaders discuss their current state and how they’re making lemons out of lemonade in the pandemic. This not only can spark inspiration on how to pivot your own department, but allows you (and all participants) to ask questions you may have for the panel.
Tripleseat, an online event management platform, has taken quarantine-level networking to great new heights with its weekly Social Hour Series. Every Thursday, all event planners can log into their zoom call and have casual conversations on such topics as preparing for a re-open and customer feedback. You do NOT have to be a current Tripleseat user to take advantage of the series.
2. Communicate with your current clients.
Do you currently have leads just sitting in your inbox, collecting dust? Reach out NOW. You may not be able to open your doors and, hell, you might not even have a solidified menu to present, but there is one thing you do have: YOURSELF. When people book events, they’re not just booking the space, they’re booking YOU. How you handle inquiries ultimately gives a potential lead the sense to trust you and your ability to execute. So, reach out! You can spark up such conversations as:
Ask what’s been the most challenging part of quarantine? The most enjoyable part?
If they have an upcoming wedding/birthday/work dinner that they need to plan on their own, offer your planning services - even if it’s just free advice.
Ask what types of take out they've enjoyed over the past weeks. What parts of take out do they love or what do they find frustrating about it.
What all these questions have in common is that they inspire ways to serve our clients. Clients are the #1 best source to consider when figuring out what needs to be done in order to drive sales. Listen to them - to their victories, grievances, stories, etc. I promise you will find new ways to pivot in these ongoing conversations. You’ll also be serving the very people who keep you in business.
3. Pursuing new potential clients.
Increase social media presence. Push your specials, pictures of your space, how you’re handling the pandemic and how you’re keeping customers safe at this time. Even behind-the-scenes videos and live chats with chefs will bring in so many intrigued customers. Engage with those who like or comment to your posts. Study who these people are and you’ll have a better idea of what kind of audience you’re attracting.
Share your knowledge with others. Aside from booking events at your place of business, planners are talented in SO MANY other areas of events. How can you share knowledge? Build a how-to guide on napkin folding, putting together a 3-course menu, setting up the perfect drive-by birthday party or even a recipe tutorial. Although these ideas do not directly promote your business, it will cast a larger net to those who like to entertain. By sharing free, useful content, you are showing that you care so much (which you do!), that you’re willing to share tips at no cost at all JUST to help. That goes a long way with people.
How are you keeping in contact with customers and industry peers at this time? Do these tips seem feasible while in your current situation? Have you made your ultimate pandemic pivot in your restaurant yet? If you’re feeling in the dark, be sure to subscribe and receive our *free* Private Events Re-Introduction Guideline! Jam-packed with ways to pandemic-proof your dining room for guests.