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Monthly Dinner Group Hot

Written by Resident Events On  September 27, 2012   4586   1
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Establishing an off-site monthly dinner group is a great way to offer a value-added event for your residents with absolutely no cash outlay.  I’m a big fan of resident-led events, with the office only helping to facilitate and get the word out, so here are a few strategies to get residents involved:

  1. As you set up the group, ask if any residents would like to take the lead.  If it works out, you will get one person, or a few people to act as hosts at the dinner parties, helping with introductions.
  2. Once the dinner group gets started, try having a new co-host for every upcoming event.  This co-host gets the privilege of selecting the next location for the group.  This helps get attendees to be a part of the planning stage, and also ensures that they show up for future events.  It also helps to stop one person only picking their favorite spots.

Keep in mind that this is potentially a group of random people that don’t know each other, so strategize ways to get them acquainted to lessen the initial awkward aspect.  If you don’t get it for free (see below), it might be a good idea for the community to give out one free drink ticket per person to help, assuming your company does not mind that process.

Get special deals by bargaining with the restaurant

The next thing to consider is if you can get some freebies for your residents’ dinner group.  Everybody loves free stuff, and believe it or not, you have the power to get it for them!  The first thing to understand is that you have a great “asset” right under your nose:  the purchasing power of your residents!  If you have a good reputation with your residents, you can direct them to different stores, services, or in this case, a restaurant – and this means the restaurant will want you to promote them to your residents.

But before you can use this asset to your advantage, you need to quantify it.  If you just count all your residents, that is a pretty simple calculation.  But you might consider allowing them to invite their friends to the event, and in that case, the number easily multiplies.  I’d also recommend playing around with how you frame your group.  For example, you could say that you represent over 300 homes, which might sound more impressive than 300 residents.  Or if you count friends of residents, you might be able to say, “We represent over 400 residents, but they can share this with their friends, so we probably reach over 1,000 people.”  I would make sure to be honest in your estimation, even if you don’t know the exact number.

So now you have something to barter with, so you want to go to the restaurant and tell them you are “considering” coordinating your next event at their restaurant and recommending the restaurant to your entire group of ___ people.  Obviously, if you had a resident choose the restaurant already, you aren’t really “considering” it, but it’s best to not let that out quite yet.  Also, if you emphasize that it is your “next” event, as if you have them all the time, it will make a better impression.

When figuring out what free stuff you actually want, there are two approaches you can take.  You can either leave it open ended and make him/her offer some sort of set of freebies, OR you can establish what you are looking for from the outset and see if he/she will match it.  Hopefully this will net you and your crew some nice extra items for the party!

After The Party Strategy

So you’ve had an event, everybody had a great time, now what?  Think ahead to the next event – what might help you get a bigger crowd the next time?  Pictures of people actually having fun the first time around!  So make sure you have some interesting pictures to share.  You can also blog about the restaurant and food itself for some great content.

Attendance Expectations

If everything goes perfectly, you’ll have a big group to start with, and it will grow after that.  But in reality, it will probably do one of two things:

  1. You will get a low turnout at the beginning, as you are essentially trying to pull a group of strangers together – not an easy task!  But we actually covered this a while back, that small groups can be highly effective.
  2. You get a good initial showing, but it drops after the first event.  I would estimate this is pretty normal!  The first event was new and got a lot of publicity, but it’s natural for it to contract slightly before growing again.  So just keep making it entertaining and work to get the word out!

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