How to Put Entertainment on Tap (18 Ideas for Bars)
Guests say “cheers” to bars that put fun, games, and good times on tap. That’s why Buzztime partnered with TapHunter to host a webinar on February 8th, hooking up business owners with the 18 best bar entertainment ideas. Missed out? No worries. Read on for the recap. Get ready to pour up bigger profits as you treat guests to an unforgettable night out.
Bar Entertainment: 4 Reasons It’s Good for Business
1) Increase Guest Satisfaction: Experience Over Everything
According the National Restaurant Association’s 2017 State of the Industry, 61% of adults would rather spend money on an experience as opposed to an item.
The right bar entertainment can enhance every guest visit – making it more than just a round of drinks.
2) Bar Entertainment Drives Spending…Especially with Millennials
There’s a reason most bars focus on marketing to millennials. Millennials shell out serious cash.
Bank of America analyzed credit card habits of the under-35 crowd. Turns out an insane 23.8% of their total purchases are made at bars and restaurants each month.
If you can provide “exclusive, personalized events,” 57% of them will spend even more.
When it comes to bar entertainment, offering trivia and digital games can boost spending across all age groups by up to 21%, according to an independent Arbitron study.
3) Bring ‘Em Back: How Bar Entertainment Breeds Loyalty
It’s simple, really. If guests have a great time at your place, they’ll return for more.
Back to millennials for a minute. Nearly half of them are more loyal to businesses that deliver creative, unique experiences.
4) Boost Crowd Size with Bar Entertainment
Pitcher specials only get you so far. For guests to choose you over the competition, bar entertainment is a must.
Big groups look for bars with a “scene.” Of course, a crowded bar is a scene in itself. Some lucky bars can sit back and watch the crowds rush in. But most have to work for it; bar entertainment is their tool.
Plus, events create urgency. Need to increase sales on weeknights? Plan bar entertainment for next Wednesday.
But First…The Golden Rule of Bar Entertainment: Make It C.O.O.L
When planning bar entertainment and events, make them C.O.O.L for max ROI.
- Competitive: Gamify the event whenever possible. Crowds love a little friendly competition.
- One-of-a-Kind: Be unique. Don’t just hire a band.
- Oversee: Plan out staff to host and manage the event.
- Limited Time: Encourage RSVPs and advance sales with limited time offers like an early bird special.
The 10 Trendiest Bar Events
Now you know why bar entertainment matters to your bottom line, the C.O.O.L rule, it’s time to dive into the ultimate list of bar events. Let’s do this.
- Bar Poker: Don’t go it alone…use automatic scoring and tablets.
- Bar Winter Games: No figure skating needed. Create a competition around darts, cornhole (bring the boards indoors), ring toss, and other classics.
- Beer Bracket Challenge: This one is made for March. Start with a wide range of beers. Each week, let guests select the best ones to advance to the next round. At the end of the “beer playoffs” – one winner will emerge. Put that beer on special for the remainder of the month. Bracket bar entertainment is ideal for bringing guests back each week.
2) Tap Takeovers
- Partner with a local brewery for a tap takeover. Bring in the brew master to share tasting notes and host a meet and greet.
- Remember, incentivize early RSVPs. Offer branded “swag” like pint glasses to the first 20 RSVPs.
3) Live Music 2.0
- Open Mic: Invite a panel of local musicians to judge open mic performers a lá American Idol. Or, take a cue from The Voice and have the “judges” turn their backs to performers.
- Stoplight Party: Singles wear green. Taken? Wear red. Complicated? Yellow. It’s bar entertainment that doesn’t leave anyone out.
- Speed Dating Happy Hour: Instead of playing matchmaker, play tastemaker! As guests go from person to person, they can bond over a small pour of beer. It’s also a great icebreaker for speed networking.
5) Theme Nights
- Old School Hip Hop Night: Turn up the Tupac. This type of bar entertainment appeals to millennials and Gen Xers.
- Total Request: Let guests personalize their night out by submitting playlist picks on social media.
- Offbeat Holidays: Crush the competition with creative bar entertainment and events based on crazy holidays. Start with a Halfway to St. Patty’s Day Event (mid-September). Want more ideas for offbeat holiday bar entertainment? There are dozens of them for every day of the year.
6) Tasting Experiences
- Flight Night: Pair craft brews with street food. Easy to hold and portable, street food encourages mixing and mingling.
- Artisan Spirits: Craft whiskey and rye are seriously trending. Offer half ounce pours to help guests find their favorite.
7) Live Trivia
- The Ultimate Midweek Bar Entertainment: Popular across American, trivia night is the unofficial cure for the midweek blues. Check out these live trivia night best practices and 5 prizing ideas.
8) Be Charitable
- Show Your Heart: 72% of guests recommend bars and restaurants that support a good cause.
- Guest Bartender: Once a month, select a charity that sends guest bartenders to collect tips.
- Charity on Tap: Create a charity tap handle, with proceeds going to a charity all month long.
- Band Aid: Hire a band to raise funds for a local charity. It’s not just bringing in a band – you’re going above and beyond with creative bar entertainment.
- Charity Walk: Participate in charity walk or run. Include t-shirts with your logo for free. Then, host the after-party at your place.
9) Bar Entertainment Goes Back to School
- Bar Games 101: Let veteran players teach newbies to play darts, pool, and more. You’ll help guests bond and meet new friends.
- Brewing Club: Invite a brewing supplier to teach home brewing basics.
- Chef or Bartender Demos: It’s like home economics, but way more fun. Show guests how to make drinks and dinner like a pro.
10) Bartender/Chef Faceoff
- Find Your Salt Bae: The Salt Bae, aka a server whose signature move is sprinkling salt on a steak, captured America’s attention. Host a bartender battle. Tell them to perfect their own signature moves – like a martini mixing dance – to perform to the crowds.
The 4 Best Promotional Hacks for Marketing Your Bar Entertainment
Less stress. More ROI. That should be your mission when promoting bar entertainment and events. These 4 tips will help you simplify your efforts. First, more golden rules:
- Promote early and often.
- Set up a 52-week event calendar…now.
- Track the campaign’s performance to measure ROI (email opens, Facebook event RSVPs) and compare to the event’s headcount. Did it move the needle?
1) Use the Big 3: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat
- 4 out of every 5 American adults use Facebook – and 76% log in daily according to the latest Pew Internet Research. Plus, Facebook Events are a MUST. Friends can see who RSVPs to your bar entertainment and events. You can also “boost” events for as little as $100 to see ROI.
- Want to reach millennials? Use Snapchat, 60% of Americans under 35 are on this easy-to-learn app.
- Nearly 40% of ALL social media users are on Instagram. Check out these 13 Instagram DOs and DON’Ts to up your game on the ‘Gram.
Best Practices for Promoting Bar Entertainment on Social Media
- Use videos (with captions) to promote events – they score 135% higher views than photo posts.
- During your event, use Facebook or Instagram Live – plus post on Snapchat.
- Post a wrap up photo album or slideshow video…to create FOMO for the next event (fear of missing out).
2) Maximize In-Venue Opportunities
- Train your staff to personally invite guests to every single event.
- Turn your TVs into digital signage (say goodbye to pricey table tents).
- Use your windows for street-facing posters.
- Hang banners and put lawn signs around town if it’s allowed by your town or city.
3) Set up a Street Team
- Tap a staff member or 2 to pass out flyers for your bar entertainment and events.
- Your street team can contact local bloggers as well as traditional media (print/TV).
- Bring in a local celeb or social media influencer. The appearance fee may be worth it!
- Radio remote: ask a radio station to broadcast live.
4) Email Marketing
- Send email event invites promoting your events and bar entertainment. Make it seem exclusive and VIP.
- If you have a restaurant or bar loyalty app or program, send event invites to members first.
- Being first to know of events gives guests a reason to join a loyalty program.
- Servers should also collect emails.
- Set up email capture at website + Facebook email signup button
Last But Not Least: Event Planning 101
The saying goes that if you fail to plan, plan to fail. Instead, make the most of your bar entertainment and events by planning ahead. There are even apps and software – like Gather – to help you streamline the event management process.
First, set up an event checklist template. Use it for every single event you plan. Here’s what you should include:
1) Bar Entertainment and Event Setup
Outline your business goals for the event. Are you looking to increase revenue? By how much? What’s your ideal headcount. Map out what the event will look like with a floor plan. Get your back-of-the-house team involved to ensure proper inventory. Imagine running out of craft beer…at your craft beer event. Not cool.
2) Staffing for Your Bar Entertainment
Alert every team member of your event. Hold a kickoff meeting to get everyone on board. Your staff can act as event promoters, sharing upcoming bar entertainment with friends and family.
Plan out personnel. Who’s at the door? How many bartenders do you need? Have a few on call just in case you get slammed. One of the best ways to maximize bar entertainment is with a designated greeter. You’ll likely have many newbies in the house. A friendly greeter (who collects email addresses, of course) could turn first-timers into regulars.
There should always be an event manager for your bar entertainment. The manager goes at the top of a communication flow chart. Every team member should know who to contact in case something goes wrong. Yes, you should think about worst case scenarios – and have a plan.
For example, what if you hit capacity and must turn folks away? Have gift cards ready to send them home (kind of) happy.
4) Bar Entertainment Rules and Regulations
Anytime you launch bar entertainment or an event, it has to comply with local and state regulations. Many states regulate happy hour and any drinking-related promotions.
If you hold a contest, it can become a legal warzone if you’re not careful. Your contest cannot be a lottery. A lottery involves chance, a prize, and consideration. A quick call to your attorney is worth it to review your contest.
Running a competition as part of your bar entertainment? Clearly state – and post – rules for staff and guests. You don’t want fights breaking out over who’s the real cornhole champion…
Yes, planning bar entertainment and events takes time. But it’s worth it. When you put a great experience on tap for guests, they’ll be back for more. Cheers to your success!
P.S. If you found these 18 bar entertainment ideas useful, you’ll like this free guide to 66 Bar Promotions to Drive Sales on Slow Nights.