How Your Restaurant Can Market And Sell Its First Event Like Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre

Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre Marketing, Promotions, & Sales

You worked hard and have the best pizza in Maryland as declared by Zagat. Somehow pulled off your "painting with a twist" themed wine bar where adults can get together and drink wine like adults while painting like children. You've nailed your niche in an industry where more businesses close than they succeed. And by "succeed" we mean thrive, not just stay open. Now you're ready to hit the gas and start hosting you're own events for your lovely patrons. But you're smart enough to grow a competitive restaurant so you're also smart enough to know that selling plates and upsells is not quite the same as selling event tickets.

without a cue dinner theatre i love lucy
"Lucy, I'm Dead" murder mystery dinner theatre by Without A Cue Productions, LLC.

Don't be afraid (we know you're not—we've been in your kitchen during dinner rush). The good news is that you're selling an experience again. It's just this time it's a different experience than lunch or dinner. Here is a quick guide to get you into the brain of your target customer for your event, and how your staff and resources can execute.

Quick Guide For Marketing, Promoting, and Selling Your Restaurant Event Like Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre

Have A Strong Marketing Mix

You have a steady stream of customers now. But you can remember a time when you had to work for it. Actually, it's so competitive now that having the best food, experience, and pricing doesn't always seal the deal so you still have to get creative with your restaurant promotions. Whatever the case, when introducing a new experience you will want to have a strong event marketing mix to:

  1. Disseminate information
  2. Generate anticipation

Since your new dinner theatre event is something your customers aren't used to—and some of them may have never heard of it—you will do best with your marketing efforts to inform your patrons. Your regulars will get on board and excited quickly, and their pals that don't usually frequent your restaurant will discover a great reason to break their routine that doesn't include your dining room. Look at what was just said. By the time we were done informing people about the event we were already creating excitement! It's a wave, and this is how you build it.

Focus your efforts on all marketing media you have access to. Don't rely on just social media or posters in the window to drive ticket sales. We recommend the following mix:

  • Posters wherever appropriate within the building
  • Blurb in server/bartender greeting/check drop
  • Social media posts as part of your regular social mix
  • Fliers on tables/with bills if appropriate
  • Propaganda on website if trafficked
  • Ticket contests such as business card drawings or reward points
  • Expertly targeted social media ads

There are other tactics and strategies, but this covers both digital and brick & mortar practices. Which is a major key.

Make Sure It Is As Easy As Possible To Buy Tickets

You can easily overlook this. Friction between your customer wanting to buy and being able to buy can lose you sales in a scalable way.

  1. Make sure you always have paper tickets available (if offering paper tickets) and that ALL your staff is educated on the event so that they can be a point of sale. You can educate staff about the event in your weekly meeting or poster in back of house (or both).
  2. If you're going to be selling online through a ticketing portal or web service then make sure the process for signing up and securing payment is as easy as possible. Get only as much information as you need to make the sale and have as little steps as possible to finishing check-out. Remember, people are using the internet on their phones more now than they are on a home/work computer, so the process needs to be easy to navigate online. You will also see more sales if you enable customers online to either call or email for more information or to secure tickets. The "Enable Your Team" tip will be key for this part.

Sell The Event, Not Your Event

As part of your info blasting, make sure you aren't focusing on your date, your location, your restaurant, or your menu. Sure you will want to remind everyone that you have the most popular quesadilla around, but you won't want that to distract everyone from the super unique event you're introducing.

One of the best ways we've found to grow our business is to promote others and showcase their accomplishments. Everyone loves the true community pillars. And if you understand how important trust is then you understand how sincere your message has to be. Does the band you're hosting that night have a great write-up in the local newspaper? Is the car show being hosted in your parking lot known for their contributions to charity and volunteering? Put the spotlight on them and they will sell your tickets.

When you only focus on your event then these customers who are already on the internet all day seeing "me! me! me!" from everyone will hear "me! me! me!" from you. It just comes off as white noise, if not greedy. Just make sure the information your spotlighting is useful whether it is practical or entertaining and providing escapism.

Enable Your Team

Have you ever worked at a restaurant where the owner or management tried to micromanage both FOH and BOH? It was a train wreck, if not immediately then eventually. The best organizations have great talent on staff and allow them the tools to create a great experience for management and staff around them. They are enabled through decision-making freedom and the knowledge/experience that earns it. This is the same when introducing a new event that you're hoping to sell out tickets to.

Make sure you have at least one person on duty at all times that can answer all questions about the event via email, phone, or in house. This person should also be a point of sale, and be able to add tickets to a patron's bill, guide them through the online checkout process, or checkout online for the customer themselves. They will be able to help staff focused on their tasks get educated throughout the promotion since they will be able to answer questions on duty and after hours.

Having a staff educated or even excited about the event will turn your promotions into a wave that will build excitement throughout the neighborhood, sell out your first event, and get people knocking down the door for the next one. That is, if you provide them them with an exceptional experience. Which we both know you already do.

Interested in hosting professional murder mystery dinner theatre at your restaurant, bar, lounge, or other type of establishment? Email with your target date, or to request more information.

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