Murder Mystery Guide for Public Venues

A Step by Step Guide to Planning A Successful Murder Mystery Dinner Event

Smiling audience at company Christmas party murder mystery dinner

Looking for ideas to lure potential customers to your banquet space venue? Public events are a great way to showcase your facility to the surrounding community and will generate future interest.

Hi, we are Jest Murder Mystery Company and we have been partnering with businesses like yours since 1999 using our fun public murder mystery dinners to drive new business to your event facilities.

It’s really very simple. Choose a date, book your catering and book Jest Murder Mystery Company. Send out a press release to your metro area and promote the event online through social media and event listing sites. Then sell tickets to the event and voila! You have a publicity event that pays for itself.

Also, when we find a great venue to work with we add it to our list of recommended venues for our clients in your area.

Not only do you receive revenue from the event, but you have also showcased your property to future customers and gained free media attention from the press release you sent out promoting the event. What’s to ponder? Ask us about our options for restaurant, winery, venue and banquet facility owners.

Choose your date

  • We recommend you choose a date at least a month and a half out.

  • If this is your first time doing an event of this kind, you will need some time to produce your marketing materials and get the word out in your local community.

  • Choose Friday or Saturday dates at first. Once your event is successfully established, you can experiment with other nights of the week.

  • If you already have established in the community that you have regular, well attended public events and you think your venue can pull a crowd on a weeknight, go for it!

Contract your entertainment

Way back when, I worked for a venue planning their public events. In my own experience, I remember booking a balloon twister for a festival I was organizing. They only charged $125 for the whole day and I couldn't believe my luck! But when they arrived, I realized my mistake. I'll just say their appearance and demeanor were less than professional when dealing with my festival patrons and their children. I was embarrassed but I learned a valuable lesson. From then on, I made sure I vetted my vendors.
Leslie Franklin
Owner, Jest Murder Mystery Co.
  • Always book true professionals to perform whatever service you are looking for at your venue.

  • Some vendors may be cheap but then they arrive they may embarrass your venue with their lack of professionalism.  It could be unprofessional dress, hygiene, poor behavior or sometimes they may never arrive at all. You may pay a little more for a truly professional entertainer but it will be worth it in extra stars in your Google Reviews and repeat customers down the road.

  • Be sure to have your contract signed, deposit paid and confirmation from your entertainment prior to advertising your event date.

Calculate your ticket price

  • Consider your area and what you think people would pay for a ticket to dinner and a show.

  • Think of what you would need to charge for dinner to cover your staffing costs and food costs.  Then take what’s left and apply it to your entertainment fee to figure out how many tickets you need to sell in order to break even.

The Lemp Mansion (located in Downtown St. Louis) charges $65.95 plus taxes and ticketing fees per ticket.  Where as Pere Marquette Lodge (located 1 hour outside of St. Louis in a rural location) charges $50 per ticket inclusive. 

Create your event description

  • Write-up an event description with your timeline, entertainment description and menu.

  • Have these details ironed out before you start marketing. This will save you much question answering from your guests and you will sell more tickets if people know exactly what they are getting.

  • Make it sound fun!

Call a meeting

  • Give all booking information to your front of house personnel.

  • Make sure they know the event description and can communicate it to your customers.

At Pere Marquette Lodge (has been booking Jest since 2007), information binders are created for front desk staff to reference as guests have questions.

Promote your event


  • Publish your event description information on your own website in a prominent location.
  • Setup online ticket sales right now! Online ticket sales are such an excellent tool. You can pass any processing cost onto the customer and your patrons will love how easy it will be for them to book tickets to your event. This really works and you will sell more seats than by taking reservations on the phone alone.
  • If you take reservations over the phone, create a spreadsheet to stay organized and keep track of your head count.
  • Write up a quick press release and distribute it to all local newspapers, television stations, radio stations, blogs, etc. It’s really no big deal and free press is easier to get than you think.
  • Here’s an example that was published by local media! For Free!
  • Submit to as many local online event calendars as possible. This is a free tool that will greatly increase the reach of your event. Just search “upcoming events in my area” in your web browser. The calendars that show up at the top are good places to start listing your event. Usually, it’s free to list an event and only takes a few minutes. Be sure to link back to your website or to the event listing on Jest’s website so your guests can get all the info they could possibly want.
  • Create flyer to display in your business and online. The more places you can promote your event the better.


The week before your event:

  • Push your event in social media to encourage last minute ticket sales.
  • Let your kitchen or caterer and Jest know about how many guests you are expecting the week prior to your event.  This way, we can ensure that there will be plenty of supplies!

Walker’s Bluff (booking Jest since 2013) has an upcoming events link in their main navigation so interested guests can easily find these and other events they host.




The Lemp Mansion (booking Jest since 2006) moved from phone only reservations to selling tickets online. This is what Patty Pointer at the Lemp Mansion has to say about their experience. “Ticket sales have increased 15-20% on Fridays and 25-35% on Saturdays, not to mention reservations for future dates are up 55-60%. It seems that you really need to sell them the tickets when they are looking/thinking about it.”



Eckerts (has been booking Jest since 2009) puts an 8.5 x 11 inch flyer promoting their upcoming events in all of their bathroom stalls. Brilliant, right?




Social Media Post Example

The day of your event

  • Combine phone & online ticket lists

  • Check reservations against ticket list and look for inconsistencies

  • Accommodate seating requests

  • Create room layout with table numbers and give to staff to setup

  • Assign tables and build in extra tables for mishaps

  • Approve table setup

  • When your entertainment arrives confirm your timeline and expectations with them

  • Now it’s time to book your next show!

Reviews From a few venues that host our shows

Square Logo for The Lemp Mansion in St. Louis, MO

Booking Jest Murder Mystery Co. Since 2006

We' have been booking Jest to perform public shows every Friday and Saturday night at The Lemp Mansion since 2006. As of this moment (2022) they have performed over 1700 shows at our venue including private bookings. Needless to say, we have an excellent working relationship with them. Not only do their murder mysteries attract new customers to our establishment but the high quality of their shows is consistent, hilarious, their actors are professionals, and our patrons have a great time (many come back over and over!) Jest's pricing is reasonable and allows us to profit from the shows as well. Here's the bottom line, we have worked with several other murder mystery companies in the past. Jest is hands down the best, book them, you won't regret it!!
Patty Pointer
Lemp Mansion
Square Logo for Pere Marquette Lodge in Grafton, IL

Booking Jest Murder Mystery Co. Since 2007

Pere Marquette Lodge has been using Jest for entertainment since 2007. We typically host 3-7 Murder Mystery Dinner's each year and sell each show out about a month in advance. The guest list speaks for itself- these shows are wildly popular...and with good reason. They're a blast! From the management side of Jest to their actors, everyone is great and so easy to work with. They make the booking process and day of a breeze and are available along the way should I need anything. Our guests are constantly asking when we are going to host our next Murder Mystery Dinner and it's not uncommon that guest attend and then turn around to book another show the same year. Overall, Leslie and her team at Jest make one-of-a-kind events possible and easy. If you're thinking about it, just book it.
Arielle Niemeyer
Pere Marquette Lodge & Conference Center
Grafton Winery Logo

Booking Jest Murder Mystery Co. Since 2010

We have used Jest Murder Mystery Co for several years now and have never been disappointed. The actors are the utmost professionals and engage the crowd throughout the entire show. The booking process is simple and the staff is always easy to deal with. We will continue to use Jest Murder Mystery Co for future shows!
Jameson Dehner
Grafton Winery & Brewhaus
Maggiano's Little Italy Logo

Booking Jest Murder Mystery Co. Since 2012

We have had Jest's Murder mystery to Maggiano's for so many years! They go above and beyond for all of our events to make our guests feel special. They are so very interactive and wonderful to work with. They have all of our guests laughing their tails off every time they are here!! Doesn't get any better and I would recommend them for any corporate or personal event!
Paige Brewer
Maggiano's Little Itally
Sage Alley Brewery Logo
Terrific night to enjoy a Murder, lol. Actors were very engaging making sure to include all that attended the dinner. Venue was perfect at The Corner at Sage Alley Brewery
Heather Lloyd
Sage Alley Brewery
Arlington's Catering and Historic Venue Logo
We had a fantastic night with the Jest Murder Mystery Company! The actors were very funny and very professional. Everything ran very smoothly and the guests loved it! We will be using them again....soon! Highly recommend!
Ebben Moore
Arlington's Catering & Historic Venue
Crescent Oaks Country Club Logo
What a great company!!! I held a Murder Mystery Dinner here at our country club and it couldn't have gone better!! The actors were very professional and were very interactive with our whole crowd!! We received nothing but glowing reviews for the evening from the audience. I am already looking into doing another show here and you better believe I'm using Just Murder Mystery again!! Thank you soooo much!!!
Rich Jerard
Crescent Oaks Country Club
Grafton Winery Logo

Booking Jest Murder Mystery Co. Since 2010

We book the Jest Murder Mystery twice a year to host a dinner at the Grafton Winery & Brewhaus. Each time we have it has been a wonderful time. The actors are extremely entertaining and keep our customers laughing the entire time. We just hosted one in February that I think was the best one yet. I can't wait for them to come back in October!
Tina D.
Grafton Winery & Brewhaus
Meremec Vineyards Logo
Great show! Fantastic actors! Can’t wait to host another event! Thanks Jest Murder Mystery! You made every step of booking and getting ready for the performance clear & easy. See you next time!
Michelle Boulware
Meremec Vineyards