Article contributed by Holly Edwards, Gather
If you currently manage private events at your restaurant with pen and paper or other manual programs like Microsoft Word and Excel, you’re probably struggling to stay organized. That’s where event management software comes in — it can streamline your private events process, help manage growth, and save you serious time.
But, with so many options out there, how do you know you’re choosing the right software for your business? We’ve listed out eight features that you should look for when deciding what event management software is right for your restaurant.
Whether you’re making the switch from managing events manually to using technology, or you already have a desktop platform, it’s ideal that your new software is cloud-based. This means that it would be hosted on remote servers, instead of on your computer. Cloud-based software can provide your events program with various benefits. Not only will it give you the ability to work anywhere, on any device (including your phone, tablet or laptop), but it will make your processes faster and save you valuable time that you can spend getting more bookings. Cloud-based software also improves communication among all of your events staff because they’ll be able to access the software to add in updates and check on event details. These updates will be in real time, which means you’ll always have access to the latest information the moment it happens.
Customer support and training
Deciding to purchase software will allow you to improve your events process and make your life easier. With any new software, it takes time for you and your team to learn the platform before you can start using it — but it shouldn’t be intimidating. Due to the fast pace of the restaurant industry, picking a software that offers a quick, intuitive onboarding is crucial (nobody wants to spend two months learning a new program). You’ll also need a stellar customer support team to help you along the way and iron out any roadblocks you may come across with your new software. Bonus points if this support team helps you not only learn this new software but assists you in growing your events program through helpful sales tips and strategies.
Finding an event management software that will not only increase lead inquiries but help make it easier for prospects to submit these inquiries is a must. That’s where a lead widget comes in. A lead widget is a form that’s embedded on your restaurant’s website that makes it easy for guests to submit a booking inquiry 24/7. Picking a software that includes a widget will help increase the visibility of your private events program, which translates to more leads. Because a lead widget helps you respond more quickly to inquiries, you’ll likely increase your private party bookings, and bring in more revenue.
Secure payment integrations
It’s a common fear among restaurant owners and event managers that software won’t be able to protect their customers’ sensitive data. When it comes to event management software, one of the benefits is that you can send e-contracts to clients and accept credit card payments directly in the platform. While this makes the process of collecting signatures and deposits a breeze, it does bring up the question: how do I make sure my clients’ financial information is secure? Asking if your event management software is PCI compliant (a security standard that’s designed to ensure that credit card information is processed in a secure environment) will relieve you of any financial headaches in the future, and give your clients peace of mind.
Managing events means you’re probably rarely sitting at your desk behind a computer. Whether you’re showing clients your event space or on the way to meet a vendor in person, it’s important to find a software that matches your on-the-go lifestyle. Imagine if all of your clients’ event details and bookings could easily be accessed through an app on your phone? This would allow you to communicate from anywhere and receive push notifications on your device when a new lead comes in. You could also pull up your calendar in the app to see your venue’s availability if you’re asked about a specific date in person. It’s recommended that you purchase an event management software for your restaurant that offers a mobile app.
What good are all of your bookings if you’re not able to easily track them? In order to provide transparency for your events program and see how you’re trending on a quarterly or yearly basis, getting an event management software that has custom reporting is essential. Not only will custom reports help you to create a predictable revenue model, but they will allow you to better focus your marketing efforts. Ever wonder which one of your locations is bringing in the most revenue? How about which type of event you book the most often? All of these details and more can be accessed through custom reporting.
One of the hardest parts of managing events with a team is maintaining communication. Say goodbye to forwarding emails and leaving post-it notes on desks. With event management software, you can facilitate easy team communication. Make sure that your software doesn’t charge per user, and that way you can add as many users to your software as you’d like. This will allow your whole team to access event details, send alerts, and view message logs in real time.
Tasks and reminders
When you’re juggling multiple events, it can be easy to overlook a task or two. That’s why you should find an event management software that offers tasks and reminders. Assigning tasks to yourself or delegating tasks to other team members and then being able to cross them off once they’re done will relieve stress for everyone. Users can view their tasks and when they’re due, and you won’t have to worry about any small details slipping through the cracks.
Holly Edwards is Gather‘s content marketing specialist. She works on blog posts, social media content and thought leadership pieces that help restaurants and other venues streamline their planning process and host successful events.