Home > Rant > Unofficial advice for #yelp elite event hosts

Unofficial advice for #yelp elite event hosts

July 17th, 2009

As the title (with hashtag!) indicates, this is a post about Yelp and Yelping. If you don’t I guarantee you’ll find something more interesting on the web than this.

Now, I don’t know how Elite Events get arranged, I’m not hip to marketing and in kind transactions. Which is fine, I have no talent for that anyway. Specifically, I don’t know who approaches who first to have an event at a particular venue and how much each side is responsible for planning. I’m guessing more the venue, but I don’t know. And it doesn’t really matter. The end product is what matters. Some advice then, for prospective Elite Event hosts. My personal, unofficial perspective, to help you.

It seems to me the reason to host an Elite Event is for the exposure you get. At the very least you get a lot of people in your place that maybe normally wouldn’t go there. If Yeeps come back, they write reviews and your profile goes up. So doesn’t it make sense you’d want to present yourself in the best light?

This advice is based on my long experience as a barfly, my time in both front of house and back of house in bars, restaurants and hotel events and 11 elite events I’ve attended. I qualify myself because I mostly go for dive bars, the usually fancy places that host us are fighting an uphill battle for my attention as you’ll be able to tell. But this is from an honest, objective viewpoint.

1. In the name of all that’s holy control the (pardon my French) fucking temperature. We RSVP, we fill up every time, you have to know how many people are coming. If you put “I sweated my ass off in there” in my head, I’m probably not going to come back. Why do you even have event space without proper HVAC anyway? We’re not talking about the back room at Shari’s, these are usually pretty nice places. You probably spent a load building out the space, you hopefully figured to lose money to begin with anyway since most businesses do, throw a box back there. I know this ain’t New Orleans, but when it’s 85 and there’s a hundred of us, we need some cooling. When it’s 55 and there’s a hundred of us, we probably need some cooling, or at least less heating. This isn’t just my maintenance man talk, our professional event planner Yeep has griped about it, too.

2. Plan your drinks. If you’re running fancy cocktails, and for some reason you probably are, pre-muddle and pre-shake your wares. Even if your bartenders are cute, after, say, no joke twenty minutes in line, you’re no longer making a good impression. I understand, unless you’re a nightclub you’re probably not used to this volume. But like I said on #1, you know about how many people are coming. You’ve probably been warned we drink. A lot. But I’m still waiting forever, and that makes you look bad. We had one event people spent the entire thing in line because there was a half hour wait for drinks. Make it by the pitcher! Get a sweatshop in the back and just garnish it out front. After last night I’m warming up to the place that would drop off trays of drinks occasionally. Alcohol spawn point, if you will. That, however, did make it hard to tip them.

3. Food. This is where venues take it in the shorts. Event space is probably empty on any given day, you can fudge the labor budget under marketing, but at a minimum your chef is gonna have a conniption at free passed apps. I’ve seen chefs go red faced at what happy hour does to their food costs, so it takes some guts to say you’re giving shit away. But you’ve got our attention, bring it. Last night was an example of how to do it right. Good job on that. Places that don’t, why did you bring us here if you don’t want us to see what’s on your menu? We’re a pretty open minded group, just make some of your food and cut it into sample pieces. Don’t go all out with specialty shit, fancy miniature versions of stuff. Bulk up your order that week and make some extras, then cut them up. I think most of us would be okay with that. We’ve finally learned (I helped!) not to expect the equivalent of a full meal, just give us a sense of what you serve. You should plan so you don’t run out in the first half of the event.

4. Look at your space, I mean really look at your space impartially and think: Can I fit all these people in here? If you’re, say, a tiny restaurant, maybe you want to provide food for an event in a larger space. You’re only making headaches for everyone involved if you’re just too small. Do you have low ceilings? Bodies make heat, you might need a fan or two in that spot. Are your sanitary facilities adequate? That’s a buzzkill, for real.

The best spaces we’ve been in so far were a parking garage roof and the lobby of an office building. Seriously. It was a non-standard lobby in a non-standard office building, but we partied hard by the mail boxes. Oh, did we ever. I still cringe thinking of what I can remember of that night. So we’re not uppity, we can accept informal solutions if it means we’re comfortable.

5. Entertainment. It’s nice, but don’t put yourself out. We’ve had some music and DJs, we mostly can’t hear it over our own drunken yammering. As the event wears on, let your musicians mingle. By that point they may as well be practicing and someone in the crowd might think they’re cute.

6. Ice cream/frozen yogurt/gelato is always a hit. Particularly for the chicks, and who doesn’t want more ladies in their establishment? This is a straight up bribe but I promise you, no one will complain.

So, what’s the damage? Well, of the 11 Elite Events I’ve been to, 4 were in non-commercial spaces and 1 was a bar I knew, so I won’t count any of them. Of the 6 other places:

Three of them did themselves a disservice with poor event performance. But two of them are places I never would have gone on my own anyway. One I will never say anything nice about (my thing), the other I can recommend their food based on what I tried (an infusion of beef and cookies at the end will make almost anything tolerable). Also, both of these fell into the “I’m sweating, therefore I’m not having fun” category. The third place, well, it’s out of business now. Not a shock.

One place I really wanted to go back but just never did, it’s gone now, I actually feel pretty bad I never returned.

Two places hit on all cylinders (I’ll name these two, Observatory and MacTarnahan’s Taproom), but their locations are wrong for me. If I was in the area I’d go and I’d absolutely recommend them. The Taproom I’d recommend for events since we weren’t in the restaurant, but the food samples were pretty good. The Observatory is pretty sweet all around (they’ve deffo scored on the return reviews), but I just don’t make it to 82nd & Stark very often for some reason.

Why, then, I’m sure you’re asking, do I go to Elite Events? Well free booze is good and most of the time I’m not forced to wait interminably for it. Mostly there are Yeeps who only come out for special events, some have good reasons and some just suck a little bit. But I doubt venues are doing this for my entertainment, so hopefully this gets to some and they can help me help them, so I can help myself.

  1. Danielle
    July 17th, 2009 at 11:51 | #1

    I agree with most of this. However, I am smitten with last night’s restaurant, and even though it was hot, I think it was worth it. But it was fracking hot. Good to know it’s not just me.

  2. Hoot
    July 17th, 2009 at 12:18 | #2

    So basically all you’re saying is you need a fan in the venue?

  3. mickey mouse
    July 17th, 2009 at 15:59 | #3

    I hear you about some people just showing up on specific events. What can I say, some haters are selective. Nead I mention, had some unidentifiable complex?

    And riding his/her wave is not a bad thing on a group setting. ;) S/he’ll be the same and we know better.

  4. Gloom
    July 17th, 2009 at 22:24 | #4

    It takes precious little to make you sweaty anyway… I can just whisper “steak” in you ear and the stuff starts runnin’ down your crack.

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