Fine-dining restaurant professionals’ jobs depend on treating guests with the ultimate care, attention, and discretion that makes patrons want to return-and leaves them buzzing about the experience among their networks. Here’s what you can learn from the practices of high-end restaurants.
1. Anticipate special requests-and remember themJust like restaurants, events see all types of guests and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to issues such as allergies and dietary restrictions. So take a page from fine-dining restaurants and anticipate individual needs so you can be prepared to meet them on event day.
« Service begins with the reservation, » says Patina general manager Kevin Welby. « We inquire about the nature of the occasion, making all the appropriate notes as we go. We also inquire if there are any special food requests or dietary restrictions and offer parking information and directions to the restaurant if needed. All of this is to be prepared for the guest and to also put the guest at ease demonstrating our willingness to handle any special requests or needs. »
And don’t let the prep work you’ve done for one event evaporate into the ether. Rather, keep your data duly filed for the next event, in the manner of fine-dining eateries. « We document guest preferences in a database in order to best serve them when they return next, » says Joseph Ramaglia, general manager of Culina, Modern Italian restaurant at the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills.
2. Pay attention to minutiaWhen guests see that even their tiniest needs are met-in addition to the obvious ones, like hunger, thirst, and restrooms-they’ll feel truly cared for. « The most simplistic details must not be overlooked. Corners cannot be cut, » says Ramaglia.
SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills food and beverage director Andrew Adams says: « We recently heard a guest at the Bazaar by José Andrés state their craving for M&M’s. Immediately we ran out, purchased M&M’s, and they were awaiting the guest in their hotel room when they returned from dinner with a note from the restaurant manager. »
3. Build a great team-and then delegateThe success of a given event depends entirely on the strength of the team behind it. The key is first building a smart, strategic, dependable staff-and then truly trusting staffers enough to delegate without hesitation. « As much as I would like to talk with every single guest, it’s just not possible. So I have to communicate my vision for exemplary service to my staff day in and day out and surround myself with a team that understands their role in achieving that goal. Nothing is more important than having faith in your team, » says Petrossian general manager Christopher Klapp.
4. Personalize the experienceWhether at a fine-dining restaurant or at an event, treat guests as individuals rather than anonymous members of a crowd-they’re likely to remember the experience, share it among their networks, and remain loyal to the host or brand.
5. Exceed expectationsLike restaurant diners who expect to get what they pay for, event guests expect that their effort-with all the hassle of dressing, driving, scheduling, and logistics-should be worthwhile. But beyond just meeting basic expectations, aim to top them.
6. Never say noIt’s a basic rule of thumb that many planners live by: Instead of saying no, find a way to get to yes. This may mean making strategic adaptations, but ones that ultimately make all bosses, clients, and guests feel adequately heard and accommodated. « Say yes to just any guest request and figure it out later, » says Klapp. « They needn’t know how difficult the request truly is and will always be genuinely happy when they notice your effort. »
7. Accommodate the guest demographicIf the event calls for an all-ages crowd, make sure the kids have some excitement of their own-instead of just feeling like bored tagalongs to a program not made for them. In ordinary restaurants, this might mean crayons on the tables, but fine-dining establishments may take it a step further. « We strive to personalize with culinary experiences. I always enjoy bringing young kids into the kitchen to see the action and may even allow them to help me with the preparation, » says SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills executive chef Hussain Zouhbi.
8. Remember it’s all about relationships
Once you’ve dotted all the Is and crossed all the Ts, a great guest experience comes down to communicating your brand’s true essence or messaging in an authentic and accessible way. « Smile, and be yourself, » says Sushi Nakazawa owner Alessandro Borgognone. « It’s important to let your true personality shine through upon initial interaction with your guests. That way, they can feel like they are building a relationship with you, allowing them to trust in you that you will offer them the best experience possible. »
Source : Bizbash