Where: The Swan Hotel, Almondsbury
The idea: Being busy on Mothers’ Day was pretty much a given for The Swan. However, short of interrogating the people ringing up to book a table about how much they planned to spend, maximising that opportunity required some more thought. Licensee Garth Jackson plumped for a set five courses, incorporating for the first time the Swan Market Table, for £25.95 for adults and £12.95 for diners 12 and under.
How it works: The pub offered leek and potato soup for starters followed by an invitation to diners to come armed with a plate to the large rustic table in the centre of the pub and help themselves to the West Country fare laid out across it, such as charcuterie, cheese and seafood platters, pate, fresh breads and salads.
Then a main and a choice of beef, pork, chicken or nut roast - with other options like burgers or fish of the day, but the majority of customers went for the Sunday favourite - followed by desserts and coffee and homemade petit fours.
Jackson said: “This was all about driving the per head spend with people committing to a set amount, however, this buffet also allowed us to showcase some of the amazing local produce we are using.
Advice: “We found people saw this as even more of an event and were subsequently delving deeper into the wine list, choosing £27 or £28 bottles.”
Pay-off: The process was less taxing on the kitchen allowing the pub to push past their usual restriction of 10 or 15 covers per time slot. The Mothers’ Day dinner was served between 12pm and 8.30pm, the pub dealt with 260 covers and the takings were 70 per cent up on last year. They repeated the feature on Easter Sunday.
Where: Stanmer House, Brighton, East Sussex
The idea:A medieval style banquet with themed entertainment. Tickets cost £35 per person which included a three course meal and half a bottle of wine.
How it works: The main restaurant was transformed into a castle interior. Guests were served a choice of starter and dessert at the table with a medieval buffet, including a suckling pig, as the main course. Entertainment took the form of a fire breather, juggler and medieval musicians with the suckling pig being paraded into the dining room.
Marketing: The event was advertised viaPOS on site, emails to the pub’s customer data base and advertising on its website as well as via social media.
Be prepared: Acts needed to be sourced and booked, props and costumes sourced and medieval recipes researched.
Pay-off: Offers something different to regular guests whilst encouraging new customers. Tied in with St George’s Day celebrations.
Key benefits: The event attracted 80 guests. The House received positive feedback from guests and has also enjoyed an increase in enquiries regarding future events.
Advice: Beverly Drew, a member of the Whiting & Hammond site’s events team, says: “Ensure you offer good food and good entertainment as well as appropriate room decoration and table layout.”