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Smith, party of 40

Whether you have a banquet room that seats 100 or a group of tables that can accommodate 20, hosting special events can be very profitable. What often happens however is that smaller parties are not treated with the professionalism and preparation required of a larger group. If you don't want to miss this opportunity, read these common sense pointers:

  • There should be at least one person available at all times to take reservations for large parties. A customer calls when it's a convenient time for them to make the reservation. Don't make them leave a message or wait and do it on your timetable.
  • Create a job description , including the responsibilities outlined on the next page, that outlines the scope of the duties and responsibilities involved in this segment of your business to reinforce its significance.
  • Have a reservation form so that all relevant information is gathered at one time and in a smooth, logical order. No calling back to ask for details you forgot about the first time around. The form can also include upselling reminders.
  • Large parties usually mean special events. It's an opportunity to offer customized desserts, decorations, photographs and other high profit services. See our Trade Secret, "How Many in Your Party,"  for ideas.
  • Know your policies. Do you require a room fee or a deposit? What is your cancellation policy? No matter how few or numerous they are, have your policies written out in easy-to-understand language. I also suggest a line for the guest to sign or initial their acknowledgement and acceptance of the policies.
  • Confirm the event or reservation. Call the guest 24 to 48 hours in advance and briefly review the salient details, such as time, number of attendees, and any other special arrangements. This will help to prevent any last minute surprises, and reassures your customer that they are being taken care of. And speaking of surprises. Have a prominent space on your form to indicate if this is a surprise party. You'll never recover if you blow their cover!
  • Special touches such as a personalized table reservation sign, custom printed menus, a happy birthday card for the guest of honor, a complimentary bottle of champagne or appetizer at the table, and greeting the party by name at the door will help to reinforce your hospitality and professionalism.
  • Follow up with the host following the event. Send a thank you letter personally signed by the general manager, event coordinator or head server for the table. Include a special version of a comment card to ask for feedback on their experience. Hopefully it will be positive, but even problems brought to your attention are an opportunity to improve.
  • Keep track of your special event guests and log them in a database for future marketing opportunities. If you're proactive, it's easy to become part of a family tradition or annual business event.

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