I felt like getting back to the basics of event planning today. The concept of peak versus “slow” times is integral to the event planning business. Knowing when to charge your most expensive rate and when to offer discounts are key to the success of a venue, vendor, and anyone in the hospitality or service industries.
During what I will explain are the busier months and days (even hours) in the events industry, a lot of clients are looking for your services at the same time. Because of limited supply, you’re able to offer a price point that is higher when a lot of demand is present. In slower times, you’ll want to be more price conscious so that you can appeal to the limited amount of inquiries that come in and avoid pricing yourself completely out of the market.
I’ll explain when to do each of these below and let me preface this by noting that I’m only describing the Unites States in the following:
Whether you are a venue or vendor, consider the warmer months when there is less chance of rain to be the absolute peak time. This is generally considered June and September. Peak season is typically from Spring to early Fall. However, with global warming (and I don’t want to hear any negative backlash from you global warming deniers!), I mean Spring and Fall in a sense of the weather outside and not necessarily the calendar year. For example, Spring technically begins March 20th but I know that here in New York, we can still get snow at this time. It often feels like winter in the Northeast until about the end of April or early May. During the Summer, May through September is really our peak season. However, because of the humidity and high temperatures in the Northeast during July and August, those are the slower months in the summertime.
The Fall can be a beautiful time with falling leaves and fun food or drink that coincides with the season but it can also see a lot of rain and chilly nights so it’s harder for guests to plan for transportation and wardrobe with this in mind. This is often why hosts of any kind see less of a turnout to Spring, Fall, and Winter events because it’s cozier to stay at home than to brave the weather to go to an event.
In Winter, especially if you work in the corporate world, December is going to be one of the busiest months of the year. I’d say 95% of companies looking for a holiday party are inquiring about dates between December 1st until the week before Christmas. Pro tip: remember that the few days before Christmas will be slow for holiday parties (as guests are away for travel) and you may also see a lull during Hanukkah. But, once in a while, you will see savvy clients ask to have a holiday party in November or January to save a few bucks because those are slower months.
Everywhere I’ve worked, January through March is very quiet. Reason being, the holidays have just passed so budgets are being reigned in and to top it off, it’s freezing outside!
If you’re in the corporate side of things, most office happy hours, cocktail receptions, and seated dinners are going to take place on a Wednesday or Thursday. Because some companies have “Summer Fridays” where they take off for a 3-day weekend May through August (this coincides with many academic calendars for children), Thursday is the busiest day of the week. This is followed by Wednesday which is kind of the default date if Thursdays are booked solid.
For weddings and other social events, Saturday is the most requested. This is closely followed by Friday and Sunday but both of them have drawbacks with either coming from work on Friday or going to work after an event on Sunday.
This leaves the obvious: Mondays and Tuesdays are usually slow. Many chefs will take the day off on Monday because of this well known fact of the restaurant business.
For companies, the workday will dictate when the employees can leave the office to go attend an event. The most commonly requested event start time is 6pm and then the time-slots surrounding that like 5:30 and 6:30pm are the runner ups. If you have a finance company, some may ask to start an event later because they might have longer days so they ask for a start at 7pm.
For social events such as weddings, clients will usually want to start at 5pm and then go until 10 or 11pm. This also applies to a Friday wedding. Saturdays and Sundays are nice from a financial standpoint because you can often have two weddings a day: one during the day for brunch and then one in the evening. This is a tricky conversion that I may write about down the line but just know that it is possible.
I encourage you to memorize this by heart if you decide to go into the events world. The last thing you want to do is quote someone a really low price for an event on a Thursday at 6pm or on a Saturday night and bring down the anticipated revenue for your boss.
It might seem daunting at first but if you keep in mind the logic that I’ve explained, it will make more sense as you go.