How To Create An Instagrammable Food And Drink Event For Bloggers
Blogger events are a beautiful phenomenon, giving us content creators the chance to network with other bloggers and brands, have a ‘good night out’ and best of all have wonderful memories that we will not forget, as we embark on a journey of self-discovery into the unknown. But creating a food and drink event is difficult; just as we spend days crafting blog posts, shooting content, coding and everything else, the ‘behind the scenes’ work that goes into creating an Instagrammable ‘Food And Drink Event’ for bloggers, is a lot more complex than we may think. For starters finding a venue that will cater to your target audience, host bloggers and be willing to be part of your ‘special day’ can be chaos, as many venues are booked up months in advance, while other venues are still not open to ‘blogging partnerships’.
And don’t even get me started on ensuring that people’s dietary requirements and allergies are met; as someone who is a vegetarian with allergies, I have been surprised on countless occasions where I have been to events and there was not one single vegetarian dish that I could eat, even though I was promised some delicious goats cheese which failed to materialize. Then of course the brand or agency in question needs to work out their budget (if it hasn’t already been given to them by the hotel) and see which bloggers would ‘match’ what they are looking for. For example if you are hosting a ‘vegan dinner’ it might be a good idea to reach out to vegan and vegetarian content creators, although inviting those who eat meat is also a good shout, because they can give you a different outtake on the food and drink in question. It would also be worth noting that ‘drink events’ will cater to a niche audience of ‘bloggers’ as some content creators do not promote alcohol on their blogs or do not drink, so you would need to target bloggers who are open to speaking about alcohol (AKA ME). But there are ways that you can guarantee to put on a showstopper of a food and drink event for bloggers; from finding newly opened restaurants, to ensuring that dietary requirements are met, here are some tips below that will make your food and drink event one to remember.
Make It An Exclusive Event To Curate A Better ‘VIP Experience’
I always find that when events are ‘smaller’ and ‘intimate’ I truly enjoy the event more, as you get more ‘one on one time’ with the brand/agency/PR/venue as well as a better chance to network with fellow bloggers and forge long lasting relationships. With bigger events while they can be fun, for someone who has anxiety like myself and feels claustrophobic around too many people, a larger event can mean feeling ‘left out’, ‘disengaged’ and ‘less special’ as you are one of many who have been chosen to be part of the event. A food and drink event in particular benefits from ‘exclusivity’ as hosting a meal or putting on a spread for 200 people would be quite a challenge and possibly not cost effective. With a smaller, more intimate event you are able to get to know the bloggers better, cater to their needs more effectively and above all build upon a personal connection, as curating an experience for 5-15 bloggers feels more ‘homely’ and personalized than a food and drink event for 200 bloggers, although it does depend on what the food and drink event is trying to offer the bloggers.
For example lets say you are a PR who has taken on a new client, a restaurant newly opened in the city that wants to create a press night for guests to ‘sample their menu’. You would invite a mixture of ‘Bloggers and Journalists’ – maybe a maximum of 30- who are carefully picked for what they can bring to the table. For example you might want to pinpoint yourself as the hot place to go in London, so you would invite a food and drink or lifestyle blogger from London,whose target audience is in London, while inviting a Journalist from a London News platform like ‘The Metro’ or ‘Evening Standard’ because their papers are typically read by people who work or live in London. But lets say your food and drink event is more to highlight the venue as opposed to the ‘food and drink’, in which case you would invite more press and turn the event into a party, creating more exposure and coverage like Instagram stories for your client. You might also pay a top content creator to be ‘seen’ at the event, creating maximum interest in the client who you are creating a blogger event for, to really hone in on that exclusivity. However just because the event you are creating might me smaller or more streamlined does not mean that it can’t be inclusive. It’s always important to ensure that bloggers are made to feel welcomed and are given the best experience that they can have.
Think Outside Of The Box And Find A Venue That Is ‘Original’
One of the best ways of curating an ‘Instagrammable Food And Drink Event’ is by finding a venue that is ‘new’, has ‘upped their game’ or simply is underrated, to give bloggers a new food and drink outlet to explore that might be different to places they have already been to. Let’s give you an example; Peggy Porchen is one of the most infamous ‘bakeries’ in London but that wasn’t always the case. If you go back a few years ago, seats were empty at 2 PM and you could take photos almost interrupted, because there was no ‘Instagrammable’ store front for bloggers to pose outside of. Fast forward a few years later and even at 9 AM there are people queuing outside to take beautiful photos of the storefront displays and ‘instagrammable food and drink’. Cleverly Peggy’s had honed in on a ‘niche market’ for photo opportunities and with the help of select ‘influencers’ on board, Peggy Porchen’s redefined themselves as the ‘place to go’ for coffee and cupcakes. In another case study you might look at somewhere like ‘Annabells’ a Members Club, who is often chosen as a venue for food and drink events because A. it is exclusive, B. it is insanely beautiful and undoubtedly Instagram worthy and C. has delicious food and drink, meaning that it is a venue that is 100% a triple threat.
In another example, you might look at a new food and drink venue like ‘Genesis’. A beautifully ‘Barbie Pink’ esque vegan restaurant in Shoreditch, Genesis opened in September and has already been making a buzz in the blogger world, making it the perfect venue to host a blogger dinner, especially for vegans and vegetarians like myself who will be delighted to be able to have so much choice. And what is so original about a vegan restaurant I hear you ask? Well for starters its fully organic and GMO-free, and don’t even get me started on the lust worthy interiors that will have guests getting ‘snap happy’! So you see, you don’t necessarily need to choose a ‘venue’ that is already popular, finding ‘quirky’ and hidden gems are more likely to result in an Instagramable event that you can be proud of, because it will create social and blog coverage, as well as resulting in the ‘new buzzworthy joint’ for consumers to attend.
Ensure That You Cater For Guests Needs Taking Special Care With Allergies And Dietary Requirements
I couldn’t stress this enough, I am more likely to create positive coverage for a food and drink event that caters to my dietary requirements than one that ignores them entirely. I once went to a ‘VIP’ event that promised vegetarian options and to my surprise there was not a single vegetarian option that I could have and I was gobsmacked. There was alcohol and plenty of it, but there was not a vegetarian choice at the event, leaving me to go home with a very hungry belly. In contrast, there was an afternoon tea event who catered to the bloggers dietary requirements and allergies incredibly well, and while they made mistakes, were careful to apologize for any mishaps and create plates of food and drink that we could have, which truly warmed my heart. Of course it is never going to be easy to try and ensure that everyone’s dietary requirements are met, but if you are putting on a food and drink event, it is vital that you create a welcome and safe space for all the bloggers attending.
Besides showing that you can cater to a bloggers needs, is a clear indicator of how the venue-whether that be a hotel, bar, restaurant or anything else- is competent with dealing with allergies and a sign of how they would deal with consumers who might have dietary requirements themselves, something which the blogger or Instagrammer can pinpoint in their coverage.
Create Goodie Bags That Will Leave Bloggers Wanting To ‘Write ‘ About The Event
One of the most viable ways of ensuring that an event is ‘Instagrammable’ is ensuring that there is a fabulous goodie bag to match. Of course this is dependent on the type of event that you host; for example if your food and drink event is for the ‘restaurant client’, then goody bags might include the PR’s business card if the bloggers want to come in for a further review, as well as some discount vouchers, a memory stick with high quality photos from the menu for the bloggers to use in their coverage and anything else that you feel might be of interest. The difference is with this type of goody bag, its not going to be one which will get coverage but because it is practical, will help bloggers create the content because you have already given them the necessary tools to do so. In contrast if your client is a perfume brand and you are hosting it at an Instagrammable location like ‘Elan Cafe’ the goody bag would definitely have more focus on an ‘Instagrammable swag bag’ because of the brand that you are representing. Goodies might include perfumes from the brand in question, cute cupcakes from Elan Cafe, a ‘Flower Crown’ to match the floral aesthetic of the cafe, some discount vouchers for the perfume brand and venue, as well as business cards for both. You might also include earrings or other small pieces of jewellery.
Another example is to create a ‘theme’ for the goody bag, to curate a swag bag that will definitely have your guests talking. A case study could be the H Samuel’s ‘Disney’ and ‘Harry Potter themed events (where was my invite?) to promote their new ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Disney’ necklaces, where they invited select bloggers to come to their event and was presented with jewellery gifts, as well as fun goody bags that made bloggers want to write about the event. A fun and quirky theme could be creating a ‘mermaid’ or unicorn type event, where goody bags have fun products like unicorn cupcakes, mermaid flasks, fantasy themed sweets and unicorn bath bombs, depending on the type of food and drink event that you are trying to create.
Team Up With Sponsors To Create An Experience That Bloggers Will Not Forget
This is again dependent on the type of food and drink event that you are looking to create, but teaming up with sponsors will create a more Instagrammable event, as they can contribute to the goody bags, could help out with finding a venue and even provide Instagrammable props but more on that later. For example Flor De Cana- a delicious rum brand created a event for press at ‘Rum and Sugar’ with food and drink, to highlight and celebrate National Rum Day, so their sponsor was ‘Rum and Suga’ who gave them the ‘Instagrammable venue’ complete with barrels, flowers and palm fronds, as well as an ice luge, DJ Booth and a selection of ‘bar food’ like wedges with tahini sauce, polenta, chicken wings and pitta with hummus, all ‘bar food’ that accompanied our ‘Flor De Cana’ hot and cold themed cocktails down to a T. Because it was a ‘press night’ semi-casual party, there was no need for any other sponsors, but an example of a heavily sponsor led event could be the event I co-created in January, where we had 15 brand ‘stalls’, as well as 15 brands who contributed to the giveaways and competitions, because it was a blogger event that focused on bringing brands and bloggers together.
It is important to choose sponsors that are directly connected to the food and drink event, as otherwise bloggers might question their relevance, as well as choosing sponsors that will not conflict with your clients interests. For example lets say that you are hosting a food and drink event to celebrate a new vegan menu, teaming up with ‘meat sponsors’ will directly alienate and confuse the bloggers attending, as well as being a conflict of interest for the brand who is trying to promote their vegan menu. It would also be seen as an irrelevant sponsor because the brand is not highlighting their meat dishes and thus has no need to bring sponsors on board who do not match their vegan menu’s principles.
Create Fun Activities/ Instagrammable Props That Will Ensure That The Focus Is Not Just On The Food And Drink
While celebrating a restaurant launch might have a pure focus on the ‘food and drink’ alone, one of the best ways to get bloggers talking about the event if it is a ‘food and drink party’ or to celebrate a hotel launch, is to create Instagrammable activities and props like a ‘photobooth’, braid bar, spa treatment station that ensures that focus isn’t just on the food and drink and bloggers can demonstrate how the hotel provides a well rounded experience. It might also be a good idea to think of activities that are outside the box and will guarantee social coverage like a treasure hunt, wine and cheese tasting and cocktail masterclass, which will not only compliment the food and drink that might be serving at the event but are also something a little different. I always find that a guaranteed form of exposure is ‘flower walls’ because I happen to know that I am not the only one who is obsessed with posing with them which makes sense given that they are ridiculously beautiful and very Instagram friendly.
Other activities that might be a lot of fun can include Salsa dancing classes, make your own crafts or make your own flower crown depending on the theme of the event. For example lets say that you are highlighting a Spanish themed menu at a Spanish restaurant, you might include activities like the aforementioned salsa dancing classes, provide Spanish themed entertainment and have the chefs/managers speak directly to the guests to give their take on the menu and tips on recreating the Spanish dishes at home. Or if you are hosting a theme that is based on royalty and fairy-tales to celebrate a jewellery brands new fairyland collection, examples of activities can include making your own crowns, creating a photobooth with ‘royal props’ and royal themed backdrops like castles and palaces.
What Are Your Tips For Creating An Instagrammabe Food And Drink Event?
Please note this is a collaborative post with Squaremeal but all thoughts are my own.