Back when I was growing up, spending a lot of money on birthday parties was not the norm. Birthdays were typically a family time at home or if it was a milestone birthday, we might even have been able to invite a limited number of friends and play some games in the yard.
Boy has that changed! I am constantly amazed at the amount of money that gets spent on birthday parties these days even when it is for a baby turning 1 who will never remember any of it. It seems that having a party at a kid’s venue with all their friends is now the norm but that is good for those in Agritourism!
If you are not already taking advantage of this opportunity, it does not take a lot of effort or resources to add this to your business.
1. Party Area
If you are going to be effective at hosting birthday parties, you need to have designated party areas. This can be in the form of a party tent, a designated indoor room, a group campfire site, or simply an area on your property that has been designated for party groups.
I have personally used party tents and campfire sites and found advantages with both. Party tents are great for those days when it does rain, but not hard enough to close. Campfire sites are great for those wanting to roast their own hot dogs (if you allow that) and are easily expandable in size to accommodate very large groups where party tents are limited.
We have found great success in offering both options and the parent can select which option works best for their size group and planned activities.
The great thing about adding birthday parties to an agritourism venue is that you normally already have your activities there for them to do. Be sure to highlight your most popular things in your marketing. I have seen some agritourism sites offer some exclusive activities just for their birthday party guests such as a farm scavenger hunt or other fun kids party type things. These are great things to consider if you have the man-power to pull it off!
Many parents want to go to a venue where they have the option to have the food provided. This can be difficult if you are just starting out and don’t have a Food Service approved kitchen facility to prepare your own food. Offering concessions is a huge boost to revenue and something all venues should be moving toward if they are not there already. But don’t let that stop you from offering party food. I was in this same boat when I first started out and we partnered with a local pizza place. Having a food option can make a big difference in a parent’s decision to book, so be creative and figure out a way to make that an option.
If you already offer concession items, come up with one or two party package menus for your guests to choose from. This is a great way to increase your profit on these party bookings.
4. Make your guest of honor feel extra special
We have gotten great customer feedback when we have gone above and beyond what was outlined in our party package. Here are some great things you can do to make your guest of honor feel even more honored:
Birthday party bling. Give the guest of honor a crown, sticker, special t-shirt or other identifier. This serves two purposes – to make them feel special, and to let your staff know they are a birthday party guest of honor.
Now that your guest of honor is wearing that “bling”, be sure your staff is trained to recognize that and play that up. Hayride announcer may decide to have the wagon sing happy birthday. The corn cannon operator may give them an extra birthday shot. Everywhere they go, they are being recognized and given special attention by your staff.
If you have a PA system be sure to announce the guest of honor on your loudspeaker.
5. Bonus Incentive
Your party packages may also include some sort of bonus incentive that the general public does not get. If you are a fall venue, maybe a small pumpkin pie for each guest. Maybe it is a coupon to allow them to do an activity that normally costs $1. Be creative and find a way to add value and incentives to your party packages.
There are lots of different ways to setup your parties and party packages. Many venues attempt to setup their parties to run themselves. Basically, once the group has arrived, gotten their wristbands, been given the rules, and shown to their party area, the parents take things from there. They are given a point of contact with any questions or issues that arise.
Other venues offer a host (typically one of your teenage workers) and offer more of an organized party event.
Either one can be done effectively and ensure that the party is a great success.
There are other things that can be offered to increase that revenue from a birthday party. Here are a few ideas of things you could offer for an additional cost:
Birthday cake (work with local bakery if you don’t have your own bakery)
Decoration package (balloons, birthday napkins, plates, etc.)
Gift bags for the guests (another thing that has now become the norm at birthday parties)
Personalized experience (maybe a corn maze trivia card with questions all about the guest of honor or ??)
All-inclusive packages are becoming more and more sought after in today’s world and can be an opportunity for us to increase the sale.
8. Fee Structure
Most venues have a minimum fee for their parties or at least a minimum number of guests. Personally, we did a 15-person minimum our cheapest package was $8 which meant that we would at a minimum get $120 for that party. We would allow groups of 10 but would still charge that 15-person minimum. This would include the use of a party tent or party site for 2-hours and additional hours could be added on for an additional fee.
The bottom-line is that you need to find a price structure that makes sense for you and the services you provide. Try not to offer too many options as that can be confusing. We have always had 2-3 base packages, 2 different meal choices, and a short list of add-ons.
Unlike field trips, this may be an area you want to consider taking deposits. Send email confirmations and follow-up a week prior to confirm numbers. Good communication is just as important here as it is with field trips. Be sure to let them know whether you allow them to bring their own food, whether or not you allow alcoholic beverages, be sure to confirm that every guest will need to pay (yes even grandma), etc.
Social media is your best tool for this. With Facebook ads, you can target parents in your geographical area and get amazing results with the right ad.
Also look for parenting groups or organizations in your area. If you do field trips, send home something with the kids about your party packages.
Birthday parties are a great way to add another revenue stream to your business without having to lay out a lot of capital to get them up and running. They can also be a great way to get new families exposed to your venue who never knew you existed until they dropped their child off for a party. If parties are not on your list of current offerings, maybe it is time to get that added for this season.