Private events and group bookings carry huge potential value for restaurants, but managing the process can be costly, in time and dollars. Leaning on smart technology is a good move for restaurants and other businesses that place a lot of value on these events.
— Kristen Hawley
Gather, an event software management platform for restaurants and other venues, has acquired EventUp, an online listings marketplace for event venues. Combined, Gather now serves 12,500 event venues including restaurants, art galleries, conference centers, and more. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Gather currently sells its events management software to 5,000 clients nationwide. Last year, Gather helped its customers plan and manage over 700,000 events, grossing more than $1 billion.
EventUp, a “complementary offering,” according to Gather CEO and co-founder, Nick Miller, helps potential customers discover venues for booking events, driving between 1.5 and 2 million unique visitors and 200,000 leads or messages to listed venues per year.
“Together, we’ll be able to build on our collective momentum and redefine the planning process — driving the industry forward and helping our customers grow their events business,” Miller said.
“[Gather is] definitely the leader in event space management platforms, and I think it’s great we’ll be able to provide a full-circle lifecycle of an event from driving a lead to managing that lead to closing that lead, sending the contracts, and all of the software and processes that happen on the backend,” said EventUp co-founder and general manager Jayna Cooke.
Cost and Time Savings
Private events and group bookings can be a hugely lucrative secondary market for restaurants. According to Gather, between 20 and 30 percent of a restaurant’s revenue comes from booking and hosting events — though as Cooke added, “I don’t think it’s unusual for some restaurants to have 50 percent of their revenue coming from what they would call private groups or private events.”
“One event can make or break an evening, a day, potentially a week for a restaurateur when it comes to being in the red or in the black,” said Miller. The average event booked and managed through Gather grosses between $2,500 and $3,000.
Shireen Herrington, the director of sales at Ford Fry Restaurants, says that Gather’s flexibility makes it great for all different types of events. “It’s a completely different approach to managing [a wedding]—you need to book a year out and gain their trust for a once-in-a-lifetime event,” Herrington explained. “Gather lets us book that far in advance and organize it at every step of the way. We can also integrate outside vendors into the Gather event software and manage it all.”
Injecting technology into the events process saves event planners an estimated six to eight hours per week, according to the company, which can translate into real cost savings. For example, California’s Alexander’s Steakhouse saved eight hours per week on event tasks, and decreased time spent converting a lead to proposal by 35 percent.
Dana Armon, the director of private and special events at Rick Bayless Restaurants, saw similar results that also improved her team’s accuracy and efficiency. “Four years ago, it was like the dark ages: clip boards everywhere,” Armon said. “Between the kitchen, bartenders, servers — it was insane. If one thing about an event changed, you had to let everyone know. It was a nightmare and there was so much room for error. Now, it’s on your phone, it’s on your computer and there’s no excuse for errors.”
EventUp will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Gather. According to a release, “the companies will explore opportunities to launch complementary offerings, accelerating their product roadmap to address the evolving needs of their growing customer base.” As of today’s acquisition, the teams are comprised of a combined 100 employees.