A recent study by Eventbrite suggests that pop-up dining events and pre-paid ticketed dinners are on the rise in California, and can be a powerful marketing tool for restaurants to attract lucrative, influential diners.
Last year, Eventbrite saw an 82% increase year-over-year in pop-up dining events—part of a 47% year-over-year increase in overall food and beverage events. California was the top state for pop-up dinners, accounting for almost a quarter of all events analyzed (22%). The study, "The Rise of Pop-up Events and the Experiential Diner", reveals valuable insights from more than 2,000 people who attended a ticketed dinner event in the last year.
Chef Melissa King and Chef Mei Lin prep for Co+Lab, their pop-up dinner series at Nico Restaurant in San Francisco. Photo creditL Nam-Chi Van, @namchivan
Key findings for the restaurant industry include:
1. Pop-Up Events attract the lucrative “Experiential Diner”.
Pop-up dining events cater to the “Experiential Diner”, who craves not just an amazing meal, but a one-of-a-kind dining experience. These experiences often feature personal interaction with the chef, and a unique menu or theme. Three in four diners surveyed believe it's worth paying more money for a unique dining experience, and 59% say that cost is not a major concern when deciding to attend one of these events. In fact, half of respondents say that even with the exact same menu, they'd be willing to pay more for a meal at a pop-up event with a personal chef interaction than for a regular restaurant meal ($58 dollars more per person on average).
2. Pop-ups turn diners into powerful, vocal advocates for chefs and restaurants.
The study suggests that one-off events can be effective in reaching a valuable new audience and highlighting restaurant talent. The diners that frequent these events tend to be both leaders in their social circles, and tastemakers that are already engaged in the restaurant world: 55% eat out for dinner twice a week or more, and 72% report being asked often by others for restaurant recommendations. After attending memorable pop-up dining experiences, 90% say they would recommend the restaurant or chef to loved ones, and 87% would return to the restaurant.
The ephemeral, one-of-a-kind nature of these events also make them inherently more shareable. Diners are more likely to share posts on social media about a pop-up dining experience than about a night out at a restaurant (75% versus 51%). They’re also nearly three times more likely to follow or communicate with a restaurant after a pop-up event compared to a regular meal (95% vs. 33%).
3. Experiential diners fuel adoption of advance ticketing.
Experiential diners are open to innovation in payment, and are a leading indicator of a broader shift in the industry towards pre-paid, curated dining experiences. Eight in ten say they would rather attend a pop-up event that sells tickets in advance rather than pay at the end of the meal, and 55% say they would dine just as often or more often at a restaurant they liked if it required a prepaid ticket.
"These experiences are a win-win for both diners and the restaurant industry,” said Sarah Hoffman, head of Food and Beverage marketing at Eventbrite. “Guests get to experience chefs at their most creative, while chefs and restaurants are able to build their brand and differentiate themselves through these pre-paid, ticketed experiences. As an added bonus, ticketing the event helps reduce food waste and deter no-shows."
View the full study for pop-up best practices for restaurants on the Event Academy, Eventbrite's resource for event organizers. To learn more about Eventbrite ticketing and registration for food and drink events, check out eventbrite.com/food.