Venue Fell Through? All Hope is Not Lost

While hospitality-related businesses can be unpredictable, there’s one thing that for sure: peak party season is in December.

Even within peak party season, the patterns are consistent. In early December, the number of events starts rising. Each weekend, there are more parties than the week before, and then you hit peak party night on the Friday before Christmas. In 2017, that’s December 22.

For the people throwing parties, the earlier the venue is secured the better. In fact, data from Tripleseat, a cloud-based sales and event management software company, shows that those peak party season bookings start right after Labor Day and hit critical mass in mid-November. For example, on November 14 this year, there were twice as many bookings then on the average day. Then, about the third week of November, it all slows way way down.

And most of the venues for most of the nights? They’re already booked.

Now, imagine you’re in charge of planning your company party. You totally had your act together this year and you got that hot spot for a prime night. Everything is going along great.

And then … disaster. Your venue falls through.

What can you do? That’s what we asked the event teams at venues all across the country. And while none would advise you to wait until the last minute, they didn’t say you should just give up. Here’s what a few had to say when it comes to an appeal for a last-minute peak party season reservation:

“We embrace it! We have a large regular restaurant dining room so we welcome last-minute parties there and have higher restaurant sales in the end.”

Trish Portanova, General Manager, Duffy’s Tavern & Grill, Maine

“We try to accommodate anyone and everyone we can last minute. The only concern for us is making sure we have enough product, but we are open with clients up front that selections may be limited based on the time frame given.”

Ali Saladin, Event Manager, Max’s Wine Dive / Lasco Enterprises, Texas and Colorado

“We suggest other ways that people can still get in their last-minute celebrations,such as catering, being flexible with their date/time, or visiting one of our other locations!”

Michelle Papandrea, Director of HR, Sugar Factory, Chicago

“We do tons of pick up business with less than one week’s notice. The most important things for me to be ready with are a list of ‘last-minute’ food options (stuff we always have in house and can execute on the fly easily) and to have enough staff that I can fairly easily call folks in on the fly.”

Caitlyn Hassett, Function Manager, River House/Atlantic Grill, Rye, N.H.

“No matter how stressed, be thankful for the business and be as accommodating as possible! I’m sure the client is stressed enough with it being last-minute, so there is no need to add to it. If we have the availability, let’s bring it on!”

Melanie Papandrea, Director of Events, Sugar Factory, Chicago and Rosemont, Ill.

“I love last-minute bookings! The excitement of seeing everyone on the team come together at the last second to make an event memorable is so much fun. However, once the event is over, I retreat home with a bath and a glass of wine.”

Shannon Willis, Manager, Palm Door, Austin, Texas

“As much as it drives you crazy, it will save some people’s jobs by booking last-minute events. I always give a short deadline, as it is so busy. I work to help them pick a menu, sign the contract and get it booked within one to two days. December is stressed to the max so I try to not let it get to me too much! People don’t have any idea how stressful this time of year is for event planners.”

Shawnta Fleming, Director of Events, Urge Gastropub, California

So it may be stressful now, but, as Nicole Ortega of national restaurant company TAO Group reminds us, “Breathe and be accommodating! Because it is almost over anyhow.”