Set to transform the hospitality industry by building key partnerships, Perfectly Paired will help venues to enhance delivery of all catering products, focusing on the relationships with catering partners both internal and external, ensuring exceptional customer experiences.
the motivation behind the launch of Perfectly
Paired – a collaboration between two highly experienced hospitality
industry specialists, Lauren Lacava and Mark
Principal Consultant, Operations & Commercial, Mark says that, by enabling
venues and caterers to enjoy a simplified tender process designed to suit the
specific needs of individual venues, the result is a seamless, connected
approach that ensures successful outcomes for all parties involved.
clients are ideal for Perfectly Paired
– from large to small and especially clients that do not have the internal
resources to deal with specialised requirements,” says Mark. “We can help to
fill these gaps with our varied knowledge and skill base.”
to Principal Consultant, Sales & Marketing, Lauren, what sets Perfectly Paired apart is that her
professional collaboration with Mark combines the ideal blend of extensive
catering experience with proven venue management expertise – “so we see things
clearly from both perspectives’”.
know what it takes for venues to be exceptional,” says Lauren. “We are offering
a holistic approach to hospitality consulting – giving venues access to our
vast experience across all facets of hospitality operations, management, sales
suite of services dished up by Perfectly
Tender Strategy and Management
Benchmarking for Better
Tender Bids and Proposals
Sales and Marketing Consulting
fixed-fee pricing, both Lauren and Mark believe that the decision to work with Perfectly Paired is ideal for anyone
seeking transparency and a commitment to the best possible outcomes, within
help clients compete in such a dynamic, ever-evolving industry, Perfectly Paired is positioned
alongside a vast network of industry contacts – both nationally and globally –
enabling the brand to deliver a balanced, unbiased viewpoint. For Lauren and Mark,
the business launch is a realisation of a long-held dream to fill a critical
gap in the hospitality market by providing unrivalled client care and unique
“It is exciting to work closely with someone that is as passionate about the industry as I am. We are both perfectionists but we really enjoy what we do and always have fun,” says Lauren. “We can’t wait to help Australian venues reach their full potential and create win/win outcomes for both venues and their catering partners.”
How did your chosen catering partner navigate their way through the COVID crisis?
For too many Australian venues, the answer to that question proved make-or-break in 2020.
If you’re one of the venue managers whose own business suffered as a result, now is an ideal time to take action and implement more effective strategies to help take control of 2021.
An analysis of your current catering agreement is a smart place to start.
By understanding what has been working well and what hasn’t, venues can implement individually-tailored strategies that help create measurably better results.
If your own individual list of cons outweighs any genuine pros, it’s not too late to turn things around and continue this new calendar year in a way that is both profitable and sustainable.
Ideally, last year should have highlighted the strength in partnership arrangements between caterers and venues but if COVID had the opposite effect and made you painfully aware of the weaknesses and flaws in your partnerships, learning from the experience and committing to do things differently is a way to move forward – and prosper.
Asking yourself what your clients expects from the experience at your venue is a fantastic entry point.
Is customer service most important to you?
Or is it product or profit?
When you have a thorough understanding of your caterer’s requirements and feel confident that these needs are fair and comprehensively communicated, you are taking important steps towards genuine improvements that will help your venue do better business.
If it is time to change, the good news is that there are several possibilities to explore, in order to find the most powerful – and profitable – solutions.
With a diverse range of operational models currently running in the marketplace, deciding which one is best suited to your business can be the difference between failure and sustainable success.
Which one of these catering models will help your unique business thrive?
Fully outsourced – licensed, leased or as a partnership model
Fully in-sourced – with adherence to the governance considerations for this model
Hybrid – part in-source, part outsource
Management fee contract
Joint venture with a catering partner
Catering panel – select caterers to business requirements
Weighing up the potential impact each different model might have on your current operating procedures will help inform your strategic choice.
Next, by asking more questions about the best way forward, you can be assured that the steps you are taking to make change will be both productive and powerful.
How appealing would your contract be to prospective caterers?
How would you take this to market?
How would the engagement of suitably-qualified consultants help you navigate your way through a thorough process help reduce your stress?
By being transparent and accurate about the financial returns you need to survive, making the choice between upfront funding or a true building of a partnership and service delivery can make a huge difference to your clients and the way you work wjth them.
As hospitality consultants, we often see venues tempted by the ‘carrot dangle’ of upfront loading from caterers – but it’s critical to comprehend that this financial offer can attribute to the relationship turning sour when venues feel ‘forced’ into staying in a catering contract that may not be serving their venue’s needs well.
Term of your venue catering contract
Consideration of the caterer’s obligations are an important ingredient in the analysis of any tenure’s duration.
For proven success, you want your caterer to invest in its key staff in a way that enables their delivery of a seamless experience to all clients – and you want them to set up the strategy for continuing success.
It’s an approach that requires time and money – especially in the first year of a contract.
Who should manage sales and marketing – venue or caterer?
Both options have their positives and negatives and the only sensible way to decide is to have a thorough understanding of the specific needs of the individual venue.
Some of the benefits of venue managing their own sales are:
Total visibility over sales, including forecasting
Security for your database, ensuring that leads and sales go straight to your venue (s), rather than to another venue in your caterer’s portfolio
Event calendar management – greater visibility of your calendar and sales pipeline means you can initiate sales strategies accordingly
This model limits your venues’ risk of caterer not selling effectively (in particular, in the lead-up to a contract concluding)
Better control over event P&Ls
The benefits of caterer managing your venue’s event sales are:
Leverage from your caterer’s existing database of event buyers and marketing channels
Foodie focus – benefit from your caterer’s food and beverage related content
Utilise your caterer’s skilled sales force. A caterer’s sales team specialises in selling food and event experiences (whereas your venue’s core business / primary focus may not be hospitality or events)
Leverage from your caterer’s industry knowledge
Although we can’t change the way venues managed their catering partnerships in 2020, there are many things that can be done to create a stronger 2021. With the right information at your fingertips and the support you need to guide you through the necessary changes, your business can survive- and thrive.
For the hard-working people in the hospitality and events industries, dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has meant dealing with pulling apart the very definition of what their job description is all about.
So, it’s only natural that, while we’ve been exploring ways to help our much-loved clients come to terms with their inability to welcome guests into their special spaces and venues in the traditional sense, we’ve been just a little bit quiet with our communications…
Behind-the-scenes, though, our Perfectly Paired team has been working around the clock to support Australia’s venues in their time of need.
At its core, our recent work has been about helping hospitality brands focus on the delivery of three key ingredients – how to survive,stabilise and strategise.
And now, in this post-pandemic world we find ourselves navigating, we’ve been helping venues in fresh ways, by forecasting the corporate events’ market and interpreting what our dynamic hospitality sector will look like as we factor in safe but practical social distancing and evolving operational guidelines around hygiene, health and wellbeing. Compliance and regulations can already be confusing enough and by ensuring venues understand their obligations, we can help reduce your costs and plan for a positive, profitable future.
Menus & Pricing
There will be many changes, post-COVID – not only in the number of restaurants and operators that will still be around and can afford to operate, but also changes that affect how service is delivered. The days of a grazing buffet may be gone, as clients will, no doubt, be more nervous about the ongoing management of contact and how to avoid serving options that require people to touch shared items.
When it comes to sustainable business budgets, one of the biggest issues in the industry is the costs of rents, and we know that this will come to a head with building owners/managers across both urban and regional venues. Deals will have to happen, otherwise there will be more vacancies than operators – and that won’t be good for anyone.
As a venue/event patron, would you still want a 10-course degustation that demands staff – including sommeliers – hover over you every 10-15 minutes? We suspect that, for many people, the notion of pouring their own wine may even be preferable in some settings, so there is certainly a lot of thinking and planning to be done.
The flow-on of all these new approaches means that pricing is going to be extremely interesting. Before COVID struck, it seemed, sadly, that it was already a race to the bottom in terms of prices and reduced margins being driven even further down, so one positive thing to focus on is the reality that prices will, in many ways, be driven up – and perhaps that can work in the favour of smart hospitality operators, provided they have the best possible planning and the support in place.
Our prediction? Venues with in-house caterers will need to work even closer than before. If there were previously any barriers between venue and caterer, there has never been a more critical time to sort that out. We truly are all in this together and to help deliver exceptional experiences, venues and caterers should work side-by-side in ensuring that venues are completely compliant and that marketing messages during this time are clear. Now is the time to work together to strategise for your venue’s future success.
Here are some ways to help you figure out how:
Check in with your event partners and suppliers – how are they coping? What can you do to collaborate with them during this down time? Creating co-branded content and promotions can be a smart first step.
During downtime it’s the perfect time to work with partners to create co-branded marketing, such as styled venue or food photography shoots – AND new packages for the months ahead.
COVID Sales & Marketing
It has been challenging for hospitality and events businesses to know what to do over this time. With restrictions easing and both State and Federal Governments advising of timelines for venues to reopen, planning for an affective ‘relaunch’ for your venue should be starting now.
Whole long-term strategies have been recommended in the past, the only way to develop strategy at the moment is short-term. Focus on the next three months ahead and focus with clarity. Likewise, sales budgets should be mapped out on a short-term basis – breaking it down into just chunks of 12 weeks at a time.
Your venue should be touching base consistently with confirmed events (keeping them abreast of latest industry changes, venue hygiene and social distancing policies, etc.). For brand messaging, keep it personal and authentic – we are all human, after all – but be consistent. Anything you can do to cut through the confusion that is encroaching so many other areas of your patrons’, partners’ and suppliers’ lives is a good thing. By working closely with your clients, you can help find the right solution for them. Businesses that are flexible and provide creative solutions during this time will succeed post-COVID.
With many businesses downsizing, it is likely that event management may be outsourced to PCOs, post-COVID – so with that in mind, it is essential for venues and caterers to work closely with PCOs in ways that are relevant and timely. Treat them as part of your sales team. Invite them to your venues, communicate with them regularly – and learn from them. PCOs know what events are happening and when!
It is likely that event number restrictions will be eased to allow up to 300 guests by year’s end. That means that now is the time to communicate with previous clients who have focused on smaller numbers, less than 300 guests. When you take the time to learn how they are faring, you can offer flexible options for their events to help all of you move forward successfully.
You should also take this down-time as an ideal opportunity to do all the things that you are too busy for during the year – photoshoots, updating image galleries, and updating all of your directory listings.
What kind of events will take place post COVID? Review your corporate target markets. It is likely that conferences and events will reduce in size. Some sectors, such as Government and Education, will provide great targets post-COVID. Research which industries have survived and even thrived throughout the pandemic and will be likely to event both this year and next – for example, the Construction and Tech sectors are likely to present solid potential.
COVID Compliance For Venues
The key areas for compliance will be in the areas of cleanliness, sanitisation, staff training and record-keeping of patrons in attendance. The venue operators that adapt to this in the most costly and timely manner will be the winners.
Asking yourself this important question is a sensible thing:
What is going to give punters peace of mind to return to venues?
Success in hospitality will be about the ability to create confidence.
With cleanliness and hygiene on the top of every savvy operator’s list, venues that focus on thorough compliance will benefit.
Yes, change can be challenging. But it can also be exciting and it’s going to be an interesting time ahead to see how the cream of the hospitality industry we all love rises – and what we can all do as a community to help each other re-emerge with energy and enthusiasm.
What commitment can you make to pledge your own business success in a post-pandemic world? By investing in sustainable growth and streamlined, cost-effective measures to ensure your hospitality brand is post-COVID ready, you are investing in protecting your ability to turn lemons into lemonade – and profit at the same time.
Our Perfectly Paired team of specialist hospitality consultants are here to help your business survive through COVID and thrive in the future.
As hospitality consultants, we are often asked this question by our venue clients – should we take our event sales in-house or allow our catering partner to manage the entire process?
There are arguments for and against both models and choosing the right set up for event sales at your venue requires consideration (and costing out). On this week’s blog, team Perfectly Paired looks at the factors that you should consider when deciding which sales model is best for your venue.
Protect your Sales
A good caterer will continue to drive sales throughout the
term of their contract. Some of our venue clients have seen a notable decline
in event sales where a contract is due to end (or where the venue catering
contract has been awarded to another caterer). When your venue keeps its sales
in house, the risk of reduced sales and or marketing focus is removed, hence
your sales line is protected during the tender and new catering contract
Managing your sales puts your venue in the driver’s seat and
provides a better ability for your venue to negotiate and implement pricing
strategies. Venue hire fees are a common negotiation point for events, and
where caterer is responsible for the sales process, the ability for them to
negotiate on venue hire is minimal (or non-existent). Regardless of sales
department set up, both caterer and venue should always work closely together to
maximise sales conversion (e.g tailored menus and reduced venue hire fees for
off peak days).
On Brand Service
When your venue manages its event sales inhouse, you can
rest assured that the service offering is on brand with your venue’s values and
If your venue’s chosen model is to allow your catering partner to manage the sales process, you should clearly identify their ability to provide an on-brand service offering (and drive sales effectively) – these points should be clear as crystal through the catering tender process. Your chosen caterer should have ample resources to manage sales effectively – including ongoing sales training throughout the year and resources allocated to new business development.
Weigh Up the Costs
The decision to change your venue sales set up will require financial modelling to identify feasibility. Obvious costs associated will be the allocation of adequate resources, sales office and the development of a solid sales management process. Ongoing sales team training, benchmarking, sales team incentives and strategy development are all costs for consideration. If your venue’s core offering is NOT events (e.g. a sports stadium or arts space), it is important that you identify where a commercial sales department will sit within the organisation and that you engage a skilled Sales Manager to oversee your team.
When venues choose to manage their event sales internally,
you will need to consider marketing resources. Often, a venue’s marketing
department is geared towards their core offering. If your venue requires your
marketing department to take on additional tasks to effectively market the
hospitality and events arms of your business, it is important that enough
resource is allocated (with the relevant skill sets). If you are not wishing to
allocate more head count to your marketing department, it is important that
your existing team have adjusted KPI’s to reflect marketing responsibilities
for event sales and hospitality.
Not sure what the right set up for your venue’s event sales is? Perfectly Paired are a passionate team of experienced hospitality
consultants that savour one passionate vision – to help Australia’s best venues
become bigger and brighter.
Where a poor relationship exists between venue and caterer – you can expect to start seeing damaging effects – including reduced visitation, event sales, retail sales and negative customer experiences. As hospitality consultants, we sadly see this very often. A key driver for the team at Perfectly Paired is to ensure that Australia’s best venues are aligned with the right fit catering partner, providing support to both to ensure that customer experiences at your venue are exceptional, always.
Explore our quick tips on how to create a strong venue and caterer partnership that will position your venue as a cut above the pack.
Tender process – get it right from the get go!
For many years, the venue tender process has been arduous for caterers – often asking caterers to provide a high level of detail on irrelevant items. There should be no grey areas through the tender process – caterers need to understand your venue’s expectations and vision – and highlight how caterer will best align with your brand.
Venues need to be clear on their requirements for items such as internal event discounts, black out dates and service delivery (to name just a few). Set KPI’s – together. And firm up how these KPI’s will be managed throughout the course of the contract. Both venue and caterer need to understand the implications if these KPI’s aren’t met and how performance will be measured ongoing.
Successful Australian venues are those that have all venue
stakeholders working together as a unified team. Avoid an ‘us and them’ or ‘caterer versus
venue’ mentality – you are all working together towards a common goal –
delivering extraordinary experiences for visitors and guests to your venue.
A joint team end of year party, social occasions or team building activities throughout the year are great ways to strengthen relationships. Team training sessions or a role swap exercise (for example a venue representative may work on an event one evening and a catering representative may work in the venue office for a day) are also great ways for both teams to develop an understanding of what the other team does day to day.
Open and honest communication – always
In any business, honesty is always the best policy. Venue issues need to be resolved in a timely manner and its preferable to not start an ‘email war’ with a million people copied in! Pick up the phone or visit your event partner face to face to talk issues through together.
Negative feedback should be provided to the relevant business managers (so that service delivery can continually improve) and just as importantly, good feedback should also be circulated. If your venue received a compliment on its food – share the love with your caterer’s kitchen team and congratulate them on a job well done.
It is still fairly common for 2 systems to be used in Australian venues. From the outset, venue and caterer need to be clear on what reports are required with deadlines set for the year ahead. Many event management platforms are still dated in their capacity to report on sales and marketing – so if your venue requires regular reporting on items such as sales conversion, marketing channel performance or enquiry line – ensure that your caterer has the capacity to provide these reports effectively. Sales, marketing and operations meetings should be held very regularly so that reports can be reviewed and discussed as a team. Fudging figures is not a good look and will come out in the wash, causing harm to the venue and caterer relationship. As we said before – honesty is the best policy!
At Perfectly Paired, we work closely with venues to analyse and make recommendations on current catering operations.
Then, by developing the most effective food and
beverage strategies that aligns with your premium venues, we help elevate your offering –
with comprehensive consultation that ensures more profits, more sales and more
Event season is in full swing and for Australian venues, the successful delivery of hospitality and events through November and December can make or break the budget. Perfectly Paired Principal Hospitality Consultant Mark Wright knows what it takes to keep venue costs in check. Read on for Mark’s quick tips to ensure your venue is profitable for this event season and beyond.
“Failing to prepare only amounts to preparing to fail. The catering operation involves all business facets, from planning, purchasing, recruitment, IT, Finance, but above all it is about the product and the people. Get these two areas right, the rest of the business will look after itself“. – Mark Wright
This is one of the largest costs within the operation and it is completely in your control, therefore it is imperative to forecast labour against forecasted revenue. The keys to success are in the area of recruitment and retention.
The best way to structure your resources are to divide them into 3 distinct areas, whether front of house or back of house.
Supervisors/ Team Leaders
General Staff (wait staff, bar staff, runners, cooks, kitchen hands etc.)
10 % of your workforce will be management and supervisors, these are your key personal and as such you should focus 80% of your training and development on them. These people will make up the cornerstone of your operation and should be confirmed well in advance of each event/ shift. They will lead, organise and train the rest of the team on the day, especially if they have had quality training and detailed briefings on what is expected of them.
Remember variable labour is in your control and should be treated as importantly as food and beverage pricing. There are many effective software management tools on the market that will allow you to stay on top of this.
A key component to a successful catering operation is in the planning of the menu, ensuring that that product mix is correct with a clear and defined pricing strategy.
business can sustain some high COG’s items if they are on the lower end of the
scale regarding sales, with your high yielding items to have the best cost of
The importance of balance of styles of
service in each area that is operated are critical to ensure that you can stay
within your agreed margins.
labour ratios can vary depending on how much product is being made in house, as
this will increase the labour cost, but conversely reduce the food cost. If
when one goes up the other comes down, your venue or catering business will run
Suppliers & Produce
Cost of goods are variable and for your venue’s success, ensure that you arm yourself with the knowledge of what quality of product you require and find the best price for that product.
Always double check the price that you are paying is the price that you have been quoted, many mistakes can happen without you noticing, unavailable items not credited correctly, or substituted items incorrectly charged. This can amount to many thousands of dollars per annum.
Ensure that you have a robust check and balance system in
place as most of the time the person receiving the order is not the same as the
Point of Sale Systems
Your POS can be your best friend, it will help track and manage all items that have been sold in your business, then supply you with a raft of information especially when you are working on new menus and have information at hand as to which products sell when and in what sells in volumes. This can help identify future pricing and promotional strategies.
To grow your retail and commercial event venue sales, increase your profits and manage partnerships in a way that’s smart, streamlined and strategic, it’s time to be Perfectly Paired.
Mobilising a new venue catering contract needs to be mapped out meticulously and executed with precision.
Often, new venue catering contracts need to be rolled out within a short time frame, leaving minimal time for both operations and marketing mobilisation. First impressions count and effective marketing and operations mobilisation are equally important to ensure your venue’s success. On this week’s blog, Perfectly Paired share their venue marketing mobilisation “must haves”.
Set Your Marketing Plan
Firming up your marketing strategy should be your first
port of call. Caterers are requested to include a marketing plan within their
bid and this should be reviewed and agreed upon by both venue and caterer with
view to execute the plan immediately. Your venue marketing plan should
highlight your key strategies, marketing budget allocation and specific target
markets for the year ahead.
Not creating enough hype during the launch phase of your
new venue catering contract is a missed opportunity. Both caterer and venue
should issue media releases to all relevant industry associations and
publications and shout the new partnership from the rooftops.
New venue caterers should personally contact all existing and pending event clients to advise of the catering contract change. Working closely with existing clients to ensure their event is delivered as they had planned should be an important focus area.
In many cases, venues will have existing websites set up
that focus on their core offering (for example – stadia, museums and town
halls). Decisions should be made around the need for a separate venue hire /
events website to be set up, or if the venues current website can be adapted to
include a dedicated venue hire or hospitality page. Caterers should also adapt
their own websites to place focus on your venue.
Venue listings and directories promoting your venue
should be contacted as a priority, with profiles updated to include your new
hospitality offering and new contact details.
Event supplier partnerships are an important item to firm up. Preferred or exclusive event supplier partnership arrangements should highlight any collaborative marketing activities – including photoshoots, famils and showcases.
Caterers will need to ascertain what imagery is available
for immediate use from your venue. Stand out venue and foodie images are
integral to creating effective marketing. If no quality imagery is available, a
venue photoshoot should be a priority item on your marketing agenda, working
closely with your chosen event partners to create wow factor content that
showcases your brand.
The creation of new venue collateral including proposal documents, menus and packages are a key priority item in the mobilisation phase – work should commence on these projects immediately. Venue menus are such an important marketing tool – these should reflect the essence of your venue’s brand and highlight the caterer’s food philosophy.
There is no better way to launch your new venue catering
partnership than hosting a showcase event or famil. Working closely with your
venue partners, creating an impressive event is a great way to invite industry,
PCOS, existing and new clients into your space to experience your hospitality
and build relationships.
Perfectly Paired is an Australian hospitality consulting service that matches the right catering solutions with the country’s best venues. To grow your retail and commercial event venue sales, increase your profits and manage partnerships in a way that’s smart, streamlined and strategic, it’s time to be Perfectly Paired.
The team at Perfectly Paired understand that no two venues are the same. When it comes to effective tender management for venue catering contracts – no two tender processes should be the same either. Perfectly Paired introduces a fresh new approach to tendering for Australian venues – with tailored strategies and streamlined tender management solutions that create win win outcomes for both venue and caterer.
On this month’s blog, Perfectly Paired Principal Consultants, Lauren Lacava and Mark Wright share their top tips on how to ensure effective tender management.
Do – Explore all of your options before going out
to tender. There are many options available to venues including taking catering
in house, taking the sales process in house or utilising a preferred panel
Don’t – Roll out the same tender strategy that you have done previously. The hospitality and events industries are dynamic, therefore the tender process for your venue should evolve. Every venue is unique; hence the tender process should be tailored to suit the specific nuances of your venue.
Don’t – Just consider the financial offer. A
caterer’s tender application should be considered in its entirety with focus
not only on WHAT the caterer is offering but HOW they are going to implement
it. It’s all about partnerships and working closely together to achieve common
goals – increased sales, increased profits and exceptional customer experiences
across the board.
Do – Give the successful caterer ample time to mobilise. Where a tender process is drawn out for too long, this can decrease the caterer’s mobilisation period. New contract mobilisation needs to be systematic and, if the process is rushed, this may lead to an ineffective roll out of both operations and marketing.
Do – Be clear on marketing budget allocation.
Clarify which components are to be paid for by venue or by caterer. Confirming
a sales and marketing strategy (and budget) should be a key priority item once
the new partnership has been confirmed, highlighting collaborative marketing
activities such as showcases for the year ahead.
Do – Understand and be clear on your venue’s internal
event requirements. Part of the caterer’s application will include an offer for
internal events. Venues need to be clear on what constitutes an internal event
and how many of these will occur annually. Where the requirement for internal
events or board room catering is high, it may be a consideration for the
caterer or venue to implement an online ordering system to create efficiencies.
Don’t – Forget about the importance of effective
marketing mobilisation. Announcing a new hospitality offering at your venue is
an excellent marketing opportunity and should be shouted from the roof tops.
Do – Set appropriate, reasonable and measurable KPIs for your chosen catering partner. Regular benchmarking of the catering (and sales) operation should be budgeted annually by venues to ensure the hospitality offering helps position your venue as a market leader.
To grow your retail and commercial event venue
sales, increase your profits and manage partnerships in a way that’s smart,
streamlined and strategic, it’s time to be Perfectly Paired.