Hosting a speed dating night is an excellent opportunity for your restaurant or bar to facilitate romance while also attracting new patrons. Many businesses charge participants a registration or cover fee, which, along with food drink sales, will increase your revenue. In addition to creating a pleasant and playful environment, a successful speed dating event will strengthen your restaurant's reputation and improve the likelihood of drawing first time or repeat customers.
The first speed dating event took place in California in late 1998 and was inspired by a rabbi who sought to help Jewish singles meet new people and get married. Speed dating is designed to give participants the opportunity to go on mini dates with anywhere from 10 to 25 (or more) people in a single evening. Each date lasts between 3 and 10 minutes, giving the pair time to get to know each other while also keeping them from being stuck with a bad match for too long.
During the dating portion of the evening, a predetermined group of individuals will stay seated at the same tables throughout the night, while the rest of the participants will move from table to table. When the allotted time is up, the host will ring a buzzer or bell signifying that it is time to move to the next date. At the end of the event, participants write down the names of anyone they are interested in; if there is a match, the host will forward contact information to both people within a day or so.
With the proper tools, planning and executing a successful speed dating night can be both exciting and fulfilling. Once you have decided to host an event, you should begin advertising at least a month in advance to give potential participants plenty of time to sign up. Depending on the size and popularity of your restaurant, consider advertising online, through signage outside your restaurant, in your town's newspaper or magazine, or even on the local radio or TV station.
You could also look into partnering with an online dating site like Match.com or eHarmony, both of which frequently hold regional speed dating events for members. On the special night, it can also be helpful to have a small card with helpful "getting to know you" questions at each table to facilitate conversation between potentially bashful participants. Additionally, provide each individual with a card and writing utensil for them to note the dates they felt the most connection with and are interested in getting to know further.
Much like a trivia or karaoke night, hosting a speed dating event is sure to bring more customers through your doors, boost sales, and allow you to show off your restaurant as fun, welcoming, and the place to be. Whether you have 10 participants or 50, you'll also leave with a few extra dollars in your pocket through registration or cover fees. Most hosts charge between $20 and $80 per person.
Be sure to also have your bar open and stocked, as a drink or two can go a long way towards helping participants relax and open up. You can also offer appetizers and small plates for customers to munch on after the dates have finished up and everyone is mingling. All of these elements create more revenue and visibility for your establishment, which will attract new customers and increase the likelihood of your throwing another lucrative speed dating night.
When it comes to hosting the perfect speed dating night, a little preparation goes a long way. The most important thing to remember is that, ultimately, you are providing a comfortable and welcoming environment for vulnerable singles looking to meet a mate. After all, two of your participants may fall in love, live happily ever after, and, even more importantly, tell everyone they know about how wonderful your restaurant is.