The luxury picnic and catering services market is growing steadily at a projected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) 4.5of % from 2023 to 2033. This means the market could reach a shocking $908.8 billion by 2033.
They want professionally planned events that provide an elegant atmosphere far from ordinary public parks. This demand has led to the rise of luxury picnic services that design lavish private picnics for special occasions or just everyday indulgences. For entrepreneurs interested in starting a business in this expanding niche, a luxury picnic company offers huge opportunities.
This guide offers careful insight into how to start a luxury picnic business of your own. Topics cover a range of requirements, including sourcing equipment, opening a business bank account, registering an EIN, forming a legal entity luxury picnic company, and reinforcing your business plan with competitive analysis.
1. Conduct Luxury Picnic Market Research
Market research is essential to developing a luxury picnic business plan. It requires you to research a wide range of details about your target market, trends in services, your competitors, and more.
Some details you’ll learn as you build your luxury picnic business plan include:
- The picnicking tradition provides a blank canvas for creativity and customization.
- Luxury picnic providers can show off expertise in food styling, tablescaping, and pairings to create one-of-a-kind experiences.
- Partnering with brands like Moët champagne or Godiva chocolate can add prestige.
- As remote work continues post-pandemic, luxury picnics can provide a convenient outdoor office alternative.
- The global wellness tourism market is growing and many services combine luxury picnicking with yoga, massage, sound baths, and guided meditation.
- While public parks offer free picnic spots, luxury services utilize beautiful gardens, vineyards, private beaches, and other exclusive locales.
- Partnering with hotels, restaurants, museums, and event spaces provides ideal venues.
- Beautiful backdrops matter for luxury picnics.
By leveraging expertise in hospitality, cuisine, design, and customer service, the opportunities are endless for entrepreneurs to disrupt the conventional picnic. With strategic partnerships, branding, and marketing, luxury picnic providers can stake their claim in this multi-billion-dollar global industry.
2. Analyze the Competition
Understanding your competitors is crucial when launching a luxury picnic company. Start by identifying direct competitors – businesses offering similar upscale picnic services in your area. Analyze their websites and social media for intel on pricing, menus, branding, venues, and types of events served. This gives insight into positioning and service gaps you could fill.
Some ways to find out details on other luxury picnic businesses include:
- Study their offerings and what makes them successful. You can leverage their insights while differentiating with your specialty picnic service.
- Research SEO optimization for competitor sites. This reveals opportunities to rank higher in searches through keywords, content, and backlinks.
- Study their social media for engagement levels, branding, and promotions.
- Local review sites like Yelp are valuable for seeing customer feedback. You can identify weaknesses to improve upon.
- For brick-and-mortar businesses, perform an in-person competitive analysis.
- Evaluate their location, signage, displays, printed materials, staff, and differentiation points. Being on-site also allows you to observe customer traffic and interactions.
- Ongoing competitive monitoring helps detect new offerings, pricing changes, and shifts in customer sentiment.
- Subscribe to competitors’ email lists to get their promotions and event announcements.
- Follow their social channels.
- Set Google Alerts for their brand names.
- Competitor intelligence will help you continually refine your strategy over time and provide unique value as a premium picnic service.
Regular analysis of direct and indirect competitors, both online and in-person, provides invaluable intelligence to position your successful luxury picnic business.
3. Costs to Start a Luxury Picnic Business
Starting a luxury picnic company will require careful financial planning and budgeting. From initial investments to operating expenses, here is an overview of the likely costs involved in getting your elegant outdoor event service up and running. Here are some luxury picnic startup costs to consider.
- Registering your business will involve state filing fees averaging $50-$150 depending on your location and entity structure.
- Any necessary permits for food service or alcohol may add $100-$300 in permitting costs.
- Logo design and branding packages from professional graphic designers typically range from $300-$2,000.
- Factor in domain registration, hosting, and a customized website built by a designer, averaging $3,000-$5,000.
- Sourcing durable hardwood baskets engraved with your logo, premium linens, and China dishware can cost $5,000-$10,000 initially.
- Expect $2,500 a month for a qualified planner, $4,000 for a personal chef $100/hour with 20 hours of work per week, and $3,000 for an admin professional working part-time.
- A used commercial van can run $25,000 including branding it with your logo.
- Auto insurance for business use may cost an additional $150 monthly.
- Renting a small storefront or commercial kitchen for food staging, supply storage, and admin work will likely run $2,000-$2,500 in monthly lease payments.
- Any renovations like flooring or lighting may require an extra $5,000-$10,000 upfront.
- Professional services like an accountant ($200/month) and lawyer (up to $5,000 initially) provide essential support with contracts, payroll, taxes, licenses, and financial compliance.
In total, plan for $50,000-$75,000 in starting capital costs when launching your luxury picnic company.
- Food costs will vary per event based on lavish menus, but plan on at least $50 per guest for gourmet ingredients, beverages, charcuterie boards, desserts, etc.
- For 50 picnics in a month serving 25 people each, that’s $62,500 in food costs.
- Renting private event spaces like gardens, rooftops or ballrooms may run $1,000-$5,000 per occasion. At 2 events per week, that’s $8,000-$40,000 in monthly venue fees.
- Fresh floral arrangements will create an elegant aesthetic. Allow $500 per picnic for high-end blooms, adding $25,000 to monthly costs.
- Picnic design components like customized napkins, upscale serving pieces, and accouterments can cost $300+ per outing, tallying at least $15,000 monthly.
- Ongoing staff payroll, insurance, accounting fees, legal retainers, marketing budgets, loan payments, maintenance, gas, vehicle insurance, and other overhead will likely total $15,000-$20,000 per month.
Expect about $125,000-$170,000 in average monthly operating expenses to run a luxury picnic company, not including one-time event costs like music, entertainment, rentals, or photography. Meticulous number-crunching is key for launching this indulgent business venture.
4. Form a Legal Business Entity
When starting a luxury picnic service, your legal business structure impacts everything from taxes to liability. Let’s examine the four main options entrepreneurs face.
A sole proprietorship is the simplest option with no formal registration needed beyond licenses. You report business income and expenses on Schedule C of your tax return. However, you’re personally liable for all debts and lawsuits against the business. Any court judgments can threaten personal assets like your home.
Partnerships allow two or more owners to share control and split profits. A general partnership requires no formal registration but still exposes owners to unlimited personal liability. A limited partnership offers liability protection for “silent partners” who invest money but take no role in operating the business.
A corporation provides the strongest liability protection by registering your picnic business as a separate legal entity. You are not personally responsible for company debts and lawsuits beyond your investment. Corporations can raise investment capital by selling stock shares. However, corporations face stricter legal requirements like issuing stock, board meetings, and corporate taxes.
Limited Liability Company (LLC)
For most aspiring luxury picnic entrepreneurs, forming a limited liability company (LLC) combines the best aspects of partnerships and corporations. An LLC shields your assets from business liabilities and debt. Taxes are passed through to the owners to avoid “double taxation.”
Owners have flexibility in structuring management and splitting profits. Starting an LLC is relatively simple with modest state filing fees. For limited personal risk and flexibility to grow, an LLC is likely the best choice for a luxury picnic service.
5. Register Your Business For Taxes
One of the first legal steps for any new business venture is obtaining an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. An EIN acts like a Social Security Number for your company and is required for opening business bank accounts, filing taxes, hiring employees, and other transactions.
The process of getting an EIN is quick and free through the IRS website. You can receive your EIN immediately by completing the online application which asks for basic information about your business structure and ownership. No documentation is required to submit.
Once you enter details like your business name and address, an EIN will be generated and provided on the spot. The entire online application takes less than 10 minutes. You can also apply by fax or mail if preferred, though processing times are slower.
With your EIN in hand, take the next step of registering for state sales tax collection if your luxury picnic business sells taxable goods like catered food. The sales tax registration process and requirements vary by state. Some states combine the application with business license registration through online portals while others utilize separate forms. Be sure to consult your state revenue department website for specifics.
Collecting sales tax requires filing regular returns reporting your taxable sales and any tax due, which can be done online in most states. Failing to register for a sales tax ID when required to collect tax can lead to significant penalties, so compliance is crucial.
6. Setup Your Accounting
Proper accounting is crucial when launching your upscale picnic venture. Meticulous bookkeeping and financial processes will save you headaches down the road.
Open a Business Bank Account
Begin by separating all business finances into dedicated accounts. Open a business checking and credit card account using your company’s Employer Identification Number (EIN). Never commingle personal and business transactions, as this complicates accounting and can trigger IRS red flags.
Invest in small business accounting software like QuickBooks to seamlessly track income, expenses, invoicing, taxes, and more. Connecting to your business bank and credit card accounts allows daily automated importing of transaction data. This eliminates manual entry and ensures your books are always up to date. Software costs start around $10/month.
Hire an Accountant
Hiring an accountant provides expert guidance on maximizing deductions and staying compliant. For basic services like compiling financial reports and completing your annual tax return, expect fees of $1,000-$3,000. If you get audited by the IRS, your accountant can handle the intensive response process for around $5,000-$10,000 in additional fees.
Apply for a Business Credit Card
Applying for a business credit card helps separate purchases like catering ingredients, marketing services, venue rentals, and decor. Issuers like American Express review your business’s creditworthiness, not your score. Credit limits are lower initially – commonly starting around $5,000 – but increase with responsible use.
7. Obtain Licenses and Permits
Before hosting your first lavish picnic event, ensure your business obtains all required licenses and permits to operate legally and avoid hefty fines. Find federal license information through the U.S. Small Business Administration. The SBA also offers a local search tool for state and city requirements.
If serving food, you will likely need a state food service license which involves an inspection of your commercial kitchen space and food safety protocols. Average registration fees are $100-$500 annually. Some states require a separate retail food license if selling packaged foods.
A liquor license allows your luxury picnic service to provide wine, champagne, craft cocktails, and other alcoholic offerings to clients. Open bar packages with premium brands can become a popular add-on. State liquor boards regulate licensing with fees from $500 to over $10,000 depending on your location and scope of alcohol services. The application process takes 60-90 days.
Serving alcohol also necessitates liquor liability insurance which protects against claims from intoxicated guests. Coverage starts at around $350 annually for $500,000 in protection. Your general business insurance policy likely excludes alcohol-related incidents.
If transporting picnic foods and beverages, check your city’s requirements for a commercial delivery license for your catering van. These demonstrate compliance with proper transport rules and sanitation. Expect fees of $100-$250 during initial registration.
Playing music via speakers or live entertainment requires permissions like public performance licenses. A BMI license covers playing background music and runs $352-$937 depending on your revenue. Public performance rights for live or recorded music cost around $275 annually per physical business location.
8. Get Business Insurance
Obtaining adequate business insurance is crucial to protect your elegant picnic enterprise from financial ruin. Without coverage, a single accident or lawsuit could destroy everything you’ve built.
Imagine a guest choked on food served at your event. Without liability insurance, you could be sued for substantial medical and legal fees. Or a rainstorm causes thousands in damage to lounges, blankets, and decor at an outdoor picnic.
The right insurance policies safeguard against scenarios like these that could bankrupt your company. Common startup policies include:
- General liability insurance covers incidents at your events. $1 million in coverage starts around $50/month.
- Commercial auto insurance for your catering vehicle. Expect $150-$200 per month.
- Commercial property insurance for your equipment and supplies. Premiums vary based on valuation.
- Workers comp insurance which is required if you have employees. Usually a few hundred per month.
Research providers like Travelers and Progressive offer tailored small business policies. For personalized guidance, connect with a local insurance broker who can analyze your risks and find the optimal coverage package.
9. Create an Office Space
An office provides your elegant picnic company with a professional hub for administrative tasks and meetings. When not on-site executing flawless events, a dedicated workspace lets you handle planning, promotion, and vendor logistics.
A basic home office outfitted with a desk, computer, phone, and supplies allows you to work from anywhere for minimal investment. However, conducting client meetings from your house lacks prestige. Distractions like pets and children can also undermine productivity. Expect around $2,000-$5,000 to create a suitable home workspace.
For legitimacy and separation, rent a small private office starting around $600-$800 monthly. Standalone spaces are limited in amenities but provide quiet and privacy to focus. Having a more official business address also boosts your brand’s image.
Coworking spaces like WeWork offer convenient amenities and networking at multiple locations. Open layouts promote collaboration opportunities with other entrepreneurs. Expect to pay roughly $300-$500 monthly for a flex desk membership with business amenities like meeting rooms, events, and office supplies included. However, noise and distractions are frequent drawbacks.
A retail storefront combining office space and an elegant showroom to meet clients could run $4,000-$6,000 monthly. While presenting a premium image, the overhead is substantial if retail revenues are minor. Location and inventory also require significant commitment.
10. Source Your Equipment
From gourmet baskets to lavish lounges, a luxury picnic company relies on high-end equipment to impress clients. Here are some options for sourcing the essentials to execute elegant outdoor events.
Investing in brand new tailored products ensures pristine condition plus customization options like monogramming. Source timeless hardwood picnic baskets, premium linens, cushions, serving pieces, and decor from vendors like Picnic Time.
Search secondhand marketplaces like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, eBay, and Nextdoor for quality pre-owned pieces discounted 50% or more off retail. Vintage baskets, blankets, and serving sets have character. Inspect items carefully for defects before purchasing. Hire a seamstress to freshen and tailor vintage linens. Used inventory cuts startup costs substantially.
Renting extra essentials as needed allows for adapting to client events and venues. Party equipment rental outfits offer tables, chairs, tents, glassware, and lighting. Rental delivery fees range from $50-$250 depending on the order size. While convenient for overflow needs, rental inventory lacks branding and customization.
Leasing certain equipment through companies offers long-term access without huge upfront investments. For example, leasing a 20’ x 40’ tent for gala picnics may cost $350 monthly over a 1-year contract. This acquires premium equipment while easing initial financial burdens.
11. Establish Your Brand Assets
Crafting a polished brand identity is key for positioning your luxury picnic company as a premier purveyor of elegant outdoor events. Strategically developed assets convey professionalism and prestige.
Get a Business Phone Number
Acquiring a unique phone number on a modern cloud-based system like RingCentral makes a strong first impression on clients. Capabilities like call forwarding, auto-attendants, and voicemail transcriptions help you sound established. Plan on $20-$50 monthly for a business line with custom features.
Design a Logo
A thoughtfully designed logo encapsulates your luxury picnic brand. Consider a classic serif font paired with an icon like a blooming flower, champagne glass, or picnic basket to reference your refined service. Or a clean sans-serif font conveys modern elegance. Expect to invest $300-$500 for logo design services.
Print Business Cards
With logo files in hand, order branded collateral like business cards, letterhead, catering van magnets, T-shirts, and signage from a printing company like Vistaprint. Business cards exchanged with potential venues, vendors and clients provide a memorable touchpoint. Yard signs and catering vehicle branding build visibility. Print materials cost $50-$300 depending on volumes and options.
Buy a Domain Name
Secure a domain name that aligns with your picnic business name and branding. Aim for .com availability or alternatives like .co or .company. Use keywords like “picnic,” “catering,” or “events” for discoverability. Register annually with a provider like Namecheap for around $15 per domain.
Design a Website
Building a modern website on a user-friendly platform such as Wix provides an online hub for promoting impeccable events. Share tantalizing menus, venue photos, rave reviews, and booking details. Expect to invest $100-$300 annually for a custom luxury site. Or hire a freelance web developer through Fiverr starting around $500.
12. Join Associations and Groups
Tapping into local business communities provides invaluable connections and insights as you launch your elegant picnic company. Surrounding yourself with fellow hospitality entrepreneurs accelerates your success.
Joining respected regional associations like the Live Events Coalition and International Special Events Society connects you with industry experts also focused on seamless event execution. Monthly meetings, conferences, and online forums offer chances to exchange ideas on vendor relations, marketing tactics, and managing operations. Annual dues start around $150.
Attending community meetups helps you continually expand your local network. Check Meetup for local groups and events in your area. Interacting in person fosters deeper relationships with fellow business owners who can collaborate, refer clients, and give advice.
Joining online communities like the Luxury Picnic Designers & Creatives and Luxury Picnic & Event Bosses provides specialized discussions around high-end outdoor entertaining. Share your challenges and solutions while learning from seasoned members.
13. How to Market a Luxury Picnic Business
Strategic marketing is essential for growing awareness and interest in your elegant picnic services. Implementing the right promotions establishes your brand as a refined authority in creating bespoke outdoor occasions.
Start by tapping your inner circle and existing network for referrals. Offer incentives like complimentary add-ons or discounted bookings to delighted clients who refer new leads. Word-of-mouth is your most valuable marketing channel early on.
For digital promotion, consider tactics like:
- Search engine ads through Google Ads targeting related keywords like “custom events” and “private catering” in your region. Expect to budget around $300-$500 monthly as you build visibility.
- Facebook and Instagram ads highlighting your luxe picnic photos and menus. Geo-targeting and interest targeting help you reach individuals likely to seek your services. Plan on investing $100-$300 monthly per platform.
- Optimizing your website content for search engines through keyword research and blog posts on topics like “Corporate Picnics” and “Date Night Ideas.” Provide useful inspiration and planning tips.
- Joining local community Facebook Groups related to weddings, events, and foodies to advertise your services contextually in discussions. Always follow group rules and provide value.
- Starting a YouTube channel with stylish videos showing your picnics and detailing the customer experience. Videos boost engagement and trust.
For traditional marketing methods consider:
- Have flyers, menus, and business cards on display at venues, hotels, caterers, event spaces, and wedding vendors frequented by your target clients. Ask nicely to have a small brochure stand or leave a stack of materials.
- Sending direct mail postcards announcing new menu options, featured venues, or holiday packages. Include a 10% off coupon code to incentivize bookings. Expect to pay upwards of $1 per piece including postage.
- Advertising in local magazines, newspapers, and bridal publications to increase visibility, particularly leading up to busy seasons. Print ads cost $200-$500 on average per run depending on size and circulation.
- Exploring billboard or radio ads on channels popular with affluent demographics. While pricier with shorter exposure, they can help cement your brand image.
The most effective marketing will be digital, hands-on, and laser-focused on your ideal luxury picnic clients. With the right messaging and consistency, your elegant events will be in high demand.
14. Focus on the Customer
Providing impeccable customer service is crucial for your high-end picnic brand to delight clients and earn referrals. Your focus on thoughtful personal touches and seamless execution transforms each occasion into a memorable experience. Some ways to improve focus in the luxury picnic industry include:
Follow up with every client and potential customers to thank them and ask for feedback on their event.
Send handwritten notes or edible gifts to show your appreciation.
Ask customers to post a review detailing highlights of your new luxury picnic business, like the gourmet flavors, professional staff, and breathtaking backdrop you worked hard to perfect.
Make it easy for satisfied clients to rave about your services to their network by providing sample social media posts they can share right from their phones.
A few tags on social media platforms from a bride with photos of your choreographed picnic reception are a valuable marketing strategy.
When issues arise, respond promptly and offer generous remedies, even if the problem is out of your control. For example, if inclement weather disrupts an outdoor occasion, immediately apologize and provide champagne vouchers for their next booking.
With luxury services, each client expects to feel like her top priority. Cultivating your reputation for responding quickly, resolving any concerns completely, and making every picnic extraordinary will result in a constant stream of referrals and repeat bookings. Your success begins and ends with customer satisfaction in your own luxury picnic business.