How to Host Speed Dating at Your Restaurant

Speed dating is one type of event that your restaurant may host that could help boost sales, increase awareness, and bring in new customers. This particular kind of event is fun to host, can be financially beneficial, and may help your venue become a special spot that people return to year after year.

What is Speed Dating?

Speed dating involves a group of singles coming together in one venue and quickly cycling through introductions during “mini dates” that usually take place for three to eight minutes per pairing. At the end of the evening, couples who mutually express interest receive contact information for each other and can take it from there.

Things to Consider as You Plan Your Speed Dating Event

Your Target Audience

Once you’ve decided to host a speed dating event at your restaurant, you’ll need to consider your target audience for the event. If you’re in a hipster, twenty-somethings neighborhood, your target audience will more likely be that of young professional singles. If you’re downtown in the business district, you might want to target middle-aged executives.

Your Event Date

Holidays and local festivals that you want to capitalize on, or your slow season are things you’ll want to think about as you book your event date and begin advertising. Any of these things can strongly influence your attendance.

The Sign-Ups

There are various ways to offer sign-ups for your event. Sites such as SurveyMonkey and Google Forms offer user-friendly options for both creating and using sign-up sheets that can be linked to your event or restaurant’s website. Sites like Eventbrite and Groupon enable online ticket sales.

Advertising and Marketing

Nore Fulmer at Webstaurantstore.com recommends that you begin advertising one month out from your event. This allows time for your customers to plan it into their schedule, invite friends, and prepare themselves for a fun evening out.

As the event approaches, increase your coverage with interesting details and informative commentaries about the event. A few ways to advertise include:

  • Outdoor signage
  • Posts on your restaurant’s blog
  • Social media posts
  • Groupon, Eventbrite, LivingSocial or Goldstar deal offers
  • com, OKCupid or other online dating sites
  • Local magazines, newspapers, radio or TV spots

Using a Dating or Matchmaking Service

If you have a solid marketing team and event planner, you may not need to partner with a dating service. If you do not, though, groups like Match.com, OkCupid, or local speed dating or matchmaking companies are usually looking for partner venues with which to work. These groups will know the ins and outs of everything you’ll need for the event and will be able to advise you on any of the advertising options that you wish to use. The big plus on using a dating service partner is that they already have a built-in audience and platform through which to advertise and lean participants.

Supplies and Personnel for Your Event

For the event itself, you will probably need to get a few things and bring in additional staff.

  • Nametags
  • Two sets of cards (each containing names of all participants of the opposite gender)
  • Conversation starter cards
  • Timer/Buzzer/Bell (for denoting each “date” has ended)
  • An M.C./Host
  • Greeters
  • Additional security, bartenders and servers

Running the Speed Dating Event

As each participant is checked-in for the event, the rules of the event should be explained clearly, including the timeline for the event and frequency of match change-up, and who will remain stationary throughout the event.

After check-in, the event is run in a series of short increments during which daters interact one-on-one. Once the time is up, a bell is rung, and daters move onto the next match. A mingling time with a cash bar is recommended for daters to connect again afterward.

Following Up Your Speed Dating Event

After the event, your participants will need to be sent the contact information from their matches. Each participant uses those cards during the event to note which person they’d like to be matched with.

Each mutual match is given the contact information for each other. One-sided matches are not given the information, however, to preserve the comfort of the other participant.

Choosing the right event date and working with the right partners, you could create a speed dating event that people will talk about for months to come. And that could mean a boost in revenues and a new client base for your restaurant. Investing your time, money, and effort in this could take your venue to the next height.


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