When blogging events go bad.

I should probably start by saying that this was not the post I expected to write.  I had been all excited to share news of a refurbished restaurant with its delicious food and stunning décor.

That’s not exactly how things panned out.  I’m deliberately not going to mention any names in this post, as this is no reflection on the restaurant in question.  It wouldn’t be fair to blame them or give them a bad review.  I couldn’t actually comment on the restaurant itself – I just think the event could have been better organised.

I really don’t want to sound ungrateful.  I am always incredibly excited to be invited to events and I know it’s a privilege that I am able to attend openings and special evenings.   I am relatively new to blogging events and I take them very seriously.  I believe these events should be of mutual benefit to the blogger and the brand.  The brand gives me an experience, possibly including some freebies or samples,  which gives me something exciting to write about.  In return, I attend the event and dedicate my time to taking photos and writing a fair and thorough post which will hopefully bring them some exposure and hopefully new business.  In my eyes, this should be a win-win situation.  Sadly, none of these things happened at the event in question, and I was left feeling deflated and a little taken for granted.

We were told we could bring a +1 to the event, so I invited Mr Mess to come along.  I thought it would be fun to include him in my blogging world.  We arrived, promptly, at 6pm as the invite stated.  We bumped into Jay (from …) and her other half, so I swiftly adopted them as our new blogger BFFs so we wouldn’t look completely out of place.

As we entered the restaurant we were handed a complimentary glass of fizz (I’m not a connoisseur so it could have been anything!) and informed that later in the evening there would be canapés, entertainment and a buffet!

We stood around chatting for a while (in very swanky surroundings) before the restaurant owners gave a quick speech welcoming us.  It was about 7pm before the first canapé was brought around – a spiced mushroom thing that was very yummy, but also very tiny.  There were also only enough for one each.

More waiting around followed until Mr Mess went to fetch me a cocktail from the bar, mainly to fill the time.  Due to the limited bar staff he had to wait around for quite a while. The cocktail was beautiful, a twist on a Pina Colada, but it did cost us £6.50.  We were offered one further canapé, also delicious and tiny, but by now I was starting to get VERY hungry – and bored.

The entertainment was due to start at 8pm with the buffet following shortly after, but to be honest by this point we’d all had enough.  As we watched numerous people walk out of the restaurant, we decided to cut our losses and join them.  As we left, the dancers were still getting ready in the toilets so I imagine there would have been yet more waiting before the evening fully kicked off.

I know this probably sounds like an incredibly whiny post – “Oh poor you, was your VIP event not all you’d hoped!”  I know some people would have said we should have stuck around a bit longer, to appreciate the full event, but to be honest I think standing around at an event where NOTHING is happening is quite long enough.  If you don’t intend to fully start the evening until 8pm, don’t tell your guests to arrive at 6pm!  Or at least warn them that the entertainment won’t begin until much later.  I could have set off an hour later and had a much better experience!

The thing you have to remember is that as well as writing my blog, I also work full time.  I’d gone out of my way that evening to rush home from work, get ready and drop my children with their grandparents for the night.  My daughter and I both missed our rehearsals, which are paid for in advance, so that I could attend the event.  I made a 45 minute journey into the city centre and paid £6.50 for parking.   To say this was supposed to be a free night out, it actually ended up being quite costly considering all I had to show for it was a free glass of bubbly and two mouthfuls of food!

Overall, I think it was a real shame.  I was left with the feeling that the evening had been a colossal waste of my time and money.  The restaurant will also have lost out as although they did make money on my cocktail, I couldn’t possibly write a review based on the small amount of food I sampled.

If I may be so bold as to give a few tips to future event co-ordinators, here is how I think the evening in question should have gone:

The evening would have started a little later, say around 7pm to allow the staff more time to prepare.  The invite would have clearly started that the doors opened at 7pm, with the main entertainment kicking off at 8pm.  On arrival, accompanying our free glass of fizz would have been a bountiful selection of canapés.  If you’re a restaurant looking for a food review, it seems to make sense to hit me with the food first to keep my interest.  Promptly at 8pm, bring out the food samples and make sure there is plenty – you don’t want people to leave with the memory that the portion size was small.  Provide a little more seating, so people can sit and enjoy the entertainment while they try the food.

Above all remember what your focus it – the food.  People might love a restaurant with nice ambience and lovely music, but it’s the menu that gets them going back time and again.

I do wish the restaurant in question all the best of luck with their new opening.  I really wish that I had more to write about in their favour.  I have noticed they are organising another blogging event soon so maybe I’ll go back.  Although I’ll be asking for the itinerary for the evening before I do!

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  1. Charlotte says:

    You know I really appreciate when people write posts like this. I have been to similar events that I was invited to early on and all the press were given these tasters to try each and the bloggers were given one to share between about 6 of us, then I wrote a general review of the event and was sent an email why I didn’t review the food … Well what can you say about one mouthful really?

    Keep doing what you do, it’s not ungrateful, it’s all about what is expected from you in return for what you are given. I have been offered heavily discounted meals to blog about but like you say once you factor in parking etc especially as a hobby blogger it still leaves you out of pocket in the end


    • Stacey says:

      Thank! I was feeling a little guilty about writing this post but the fact is if people want you to spend the time reviewing and publicising their brand, they need to think about this kind of stuff. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Sarah says:

    Fair comments and I love your honesty. As a hobby blogger I too get excited when I get invited to events and often find myself out of pocket, jumping through hoops to make it to the event and then spending hours writing, editing, uploading photos & sharing on social media for (sometimes) a glass of fizz and a couple of canapés. In one case it was for a doughnut. That said, sometimes the reverse is true and I’ve been given some truly great meals / days out and a lot of the time it’s just me sharing places and food I love without any business involvement. Apologies if I’ve rattled on too long, I think you’ve raised a hot topic 🙂

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