Do you charge a premium for holiday catering?

Joined Oct 20, 2008

I have been making frozen desserts for years, and this past year started a private party mobile cart service (Weddings and corporate events). Our is primarily a seasonal business, May through Oct. We have two carts, so availability is limited and summer weekends are a valuable commodity.

I am curious if it is customary for caterers to charge a premium for holiday bookings? Getting staff to work on Memorial, the Fourth or Labor Day weekends is always a challenge, so I am leaning towards charging a premium for these weekends.

As a caterer, do you charge a premium for holiday service? Is it a head count increase or a percentage, a flat fee or..?

We charge a per person rate with a minimum fee, so our premium rate could be a flat rate or a percentage (which I think might be better to do).

Joined Feb 8, 2009
I would put this in the logistics part of pricing a catered event. Will say if you need to pay your employees dbl time for working a holiday This is the cost of doing it on this date. I would charge more for the days in question.......If it costs you more to do it right, it cost them more for you to do it. 
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Joined Jun 27, 2012
Weekends and holidays are busy for catering (as well as the rest of the industry).

The bread and butter of my operation (which is getting smaller as I get older).

Sort of balances out the the slower times so no I don't raise prices as it would push me higher than my peers and potentially drive customers into their arms.

Nor do I pay a holiday premium for my PT and on call staff....unless I have a spot that I cannot get filled.

I already run lean but pay the going rate for whatever skill is needed for the task at hand.

More often than not there will be an "extra" tip at the end of the nite (I don't take a cut unless I am the only one who worked the job) and that is a nice incentive.

If I have an open spot that is making me dread the job I will send a group email offering a bonus and that will almost always make working the event a bit more attractive.

My advice would be to look at your pricing structure.

In catering you need to look at the monthly and quarterly earnings before crying foul.

If you are not making the profit you want then trim some areas and restructure your menu and pricing.

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Joined Aug 21, 2004
My prices are based on my costs. If my costs go up (for whatever reason), then so do my prices. I don't just arbitrarily up the price due to whatever reason because when I encounter that in my day to day business (such as buying gas on a holiday weekend) I grumble, grouse, and get less than warm and feelings for the perpetrator.

Because I don't like it, I don't do it, but then I never claimed to be a savvy businessman.
Joined Jan 31, 2012
so u practice what you preach, i sure wish everyone was like that.
i agreee, i see no reason to jump on the holiday greed wagon.
there are asian buffets for instance, in my area that automatically
TRIPLE their prices on Mothers and Fathers days. And yet.....
they still have a line around the theyre not likely to
change that practice anytime soon.
Joined Oct 20, 2008
I appreciate the responses. I can empathize with the gouging of prices at restaurants on holidays!

We do not have a regular brick and mortar location. Our is a seasonal part time employer business, so many of our helpers are mom's or college students that help out when we have hours for them. Since they aren't "committed" to regular hours and a regular paycheck, I find that it also seems hard to interfere with their social schedules when it comes to holidays. :-(  

My helpers are fabulous. I pay them a higher than min. wage because I do not have regular work for them and want them to be eager to work when it is a available. With my business growing, I am conscientious about finding a sweet spot where I pay good/ dependable workers well enough that they are encouraged to stay and still providing a service that is competitive in the marketplace.  (You can train systems, but it's hard to train attitude/personality.)

I know that it is not uncommon for venues to have varying price structure based on the season of the year. I was wondering if holiday bookings may be considered "high season"

Joined Feb 25, 2005
For holiday bookings, the only upcharge is for staffing. They get time and a half. If it's a PITA menu or client, I upcharge too.

Joined Jan 31, 2012
For holiday bookings, the only upcharge is for staffing. They get time and a half. If it's a PITA menu or client, I upcharge too.

Yes of course, I too will upcharge for ....inconvenient deviations from the norm, like 

changing to all gluten free, all vegetarian, etc. As to labor though, its fairly easy to work a 

few bucks more into the price, without having to pass it on "visably" to the client. 

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