How to sell restaurant tickets for any kind of food service
Next in Chicago changed the restaurant business forever when it began to sell restaurant tickets instead of accepting telephone reservations. And you may be surprised to learn that any kind of food service - not just high-end fine dining - can benefit from selling tickets. Here's how...
Tickets are not just for fine dining
When asked about selling tickets, instead of accepting reservations, a frequent reply from hard working restaurant owners is “That’s only for fine dining like at Next.”
Given the widespread media coverage Next has received, that misconception is understandable. When one hears of yet another high-end restaurant starting to sell restaurant tickets, the universal benefits of ticketing software may go unnoticed. Selling restaurant tickets also has some predisposed associations, namely that it is an all or nothing proposition, and that is too much of disruption to the current business model.
To address any misconceptions or preconceived notions, below are the ways in which just about any food service type can sell restaurant tickets.
Matching the food service types with ticket strategies
Wildly popular food trucks have taken to selling tickets in a very novel way. As individual entities, making impromptu stops and serving the hungry masses lunch, restaurant ticketing software isn't practical. However, the food service format of a “food truck festival” does indeed make use of ticketing software. As a collective group, dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of food trucks will assemble at one location. The gathering borrows from the food & wine festival industry by selling tickets for all-you-can-eat "tasting menu" experience. The sample items at food & wine festivals are typically smaller in size making participation very practical, if not profitable. At food truck festivals ticket buyers discover new food trucks and can sign-up for text message alerts for when the truck is in their area.
Beyond food trucks, other casual dining experiences like bistros and cafés, modify the food truck approach. A food crawl, when hungry folks wander from one bistro to another, sell a universal ticket in-advance that entitles the buyer to a miniature multi-course or “flight” of delicious treats. And just like the food truck festival, the food crawl brings the participating bistros and cafés to the attention of all new potential customers and all of their friends.
Up one level in food service categories, are the restaurants that offer a traditional sit down dinner service. At this level the dining public must make more of a commitment than with a food truck or bistro. This class of food service is still heavily reliant on telephone reservations - sometimes, too much.
Mentioned earlier, traditional "four top table" restaurant owners are the most frequently dismissive of selling tickets, assuming they must abandon walk-ups and reservations completely. But the use of ticketing software does not require such a Draconian approach. Music venues frequently mix and match ticketed events with non-ticketed events in what could be perceived as a rather haphazard manner, but it is actually very well planned and based on demand. A night club may have a very popular band playing on Saturday night, and thus sell tickets for that event, while on other nights, admission is free.
If a restaurant is consistently booked on Saturday night, to the point where guests are waiting in long lines (or worse, being turned away at the door!) that single night’s service is a prime candidate for starting to sell restaurant tickets. Guest attendance may go up and down, but once a pattern of high demand has been identified, ticketing software will generate much needed up-front working capital with guests paying in advance.
Another example of a traditional restaurant selling tickets is when a special VIP section is available. Reservations may seem to suit the business need, but ticketing can wring every last bit of profit from a chef’s table once the experience is marketed as a “rock concert.”
At the top of the food service categories is the high-end, prix fixe experiences like Next. Restaurant ticketing software has swept over this category with telephone reservations rapidly becoming a thing of the past. That's because the nature of a multi-course set menu lends itself so well to selling tickets in advance. Knowing the exact number of people in attendance for a dining experience virtually eliminates food waste too. The era of buying tens of thousands of dollars of food and hoping it will all be sold has come to an end. The same zero food waste benefit extends itself to other costs too, like staffing.
Sell restaurant tickets with ThunderTix
No matter which food service category your restaurant operates in - selling tickets has a place at the table.
ThunderTix can help you start selling tickets online in as little as one business day with no long-term contract commitments. We make nightly deposits of your sales dollars directly into your bank account, giving you the liquidity to buy only what you need for the menu – no more, no less.
When you say “table d’hôte” we know what you mean. In addition to being the most restaurant friendly ticketing software available, know that ThunderTix has years of experience helping businesses sell tickets online. Your restaurant inherits our expertise when you make the move away from telephone reservation to selling tickets, either all-at-once or gradually. If you would like help planning the transition, or have specific questions about selling tickets at your restaurant, please contact us at your convenience.