The Complete Guide to Hosting a Trivia Night
No, it’s not your imagination. Trivia night is more popular than ever and showing up on event calendars at bars, breweries, and restaurants – even coffeehouses and senior centers. Now, it’s your turn to get in on this nationwide trend by hosting a trivia night.
Before you start popping the questions, check out this guide to hosting a trivia night. From question ideas to theme nights, marketing tips to equipment checklists, you’ll have everything you need for hosting a trivia night that draws a crowd – and brings them back.
Steps To Take
- The Benefits of Hosting a Trivia Night
- Step 1) Choose a Format for Hosting a Trivia Night
- Step 2) Select a Host and Question Source
- Step 3) Outline the Host’s Role and Responsibilities
- Step 4) Write Out an Event Plan
- Step 5) Prepare Awesome Prizes
- Step 6) Decide on a Theme for Hosting a Trivia Night
- Step 7) Promote Your Trivia Event!
Drive Business When You Need It
Unlike live music and other in-venue events, trivia night is traditionally held midweek. If you want to boost business on a particular day of the week, hosting a trivia night is an ideal solution.
Build Loyalty Through Fun
Today, providing an entertaining experience is crucial to building loyalty. Research proves it: Facebook asked 14,000 people to describe the brands and businesses they love most. The top word used was quality, followed by “fun.”
Create a Social Scene
Live trivia is a social affair, bringing together groups of friends for a shared experience. Hosting a trivia night can create a sense of community and a lively atmosphere that invites more people to join in the fun.
Foot Traffic on Repeat
Many venues are hosting a trivia night on a repeat basis. Some even create 7- to 8-week tournaments to create a steady flow of foot traffic.
The first step in hosting a trivia night is deciding on one of 3 game formats: pen and paper, tablet-based, or smartphone-based. This guide will help you decide which one is right for you, then give you step-by-step instructions for hosting a trivia night.
We’ll review more details about where to get questions and what type of host to use in the next sections. First, let’s review your options for hosting a trivia night one of 3 ways.
In addition to hosting live trivia, many venues offer on-demand platforms that make trivia available at all times for guests. This is just one of 7 ways today’s venues are integrating entertainment into the customer experience.
Pen and Paper
This is the traditional method for hosting a trivia night. The host reads off questions (and may also use PowerPoint to display questions on a TV). Players write their answers on a sheet of paper.
Players typically form teams of up to 5-6 people, although some diehard trivia geeks like to partner up or even play solo.
Most pen-and-paper trivia events are played in a series of 5-7 rounds, with 5-7 questions per round. The games typically last about 2 hours.
Scoring is either done by the host, or teams switch answer sheets and score each other. This will be covered in the hosting guide at the end of this section.
When it comes to hosting a trivia night using the pen-and-paper method, you can hire a professional host. Another option is to designate an outgoing team member to host the event. We’ll take a closer look at how to hire a trivia host – and where to get questions in Step #2.
Thousands of venues are now hosting a trivia night using handheld tablets. Either a staff member can run the event, or a professional host can be hired – it’s up to you.
The game format is similar to the traditional pen-and-paper method. The host reads off each question, which is also displayed on the touchscreen tablets and on your venue’s TVs. Many venues prefer a tablet-based trivia system that showcases questions on multiple screens. This prevents the host from having to repeat questions or interrupt players who are lightly socializing.
Like conventional trivia, tablet-based trivia players typically form teams of up to 5-6 people, although some players may partner up or even go solo.
The main difference in hosting a trivia night with tablets is that answers are submitted via the tablet, so scoring is instant and automatic. Leaderboard standings are also generated in real-time and shown on TVs and tablets.
Some tablet-based companies partner with big brands like Fandango and MillerCoors to give prizes and offers to players. These offers automatically show up on the tablets (at no cost to you).
Another key difference in hosting a trivia night using tablets is that all questions and answers are provided to you through the trivia company. When hosting a trivia night, it is critical that you partner with a reputable tablet-based company that specializes in trivia. For example, here at Buzztime, we have 3 decades of experience and provide a tablet-based system which includes access to over 750,000 questions – with new ones added daily.
Tablet-based systems may let you choose from different formats for hosting a trivia night. For example, you could run our question/answer trivia game called Buzztime Live! You can select from topics including general, sports, pop culture and more. You’re also able to control the game length: from 30- to 60- minute games.
Another option for hosting a trivia night is Buzztime OpinioNation. Our unique trivia game is “cheat proof” as players are quizzed on popular opinion. Different groups of people are surveyed – from video gamers to millennials. Then, players are tasked with guessing the opinions of each group.
In addition, we run frequent nationwide competitions. This turns hosting a trivia night into a major event! Players can show off their trivia skills while competing for thousands of dollars in prizes.
Another option for hosting a trivia night with a digital twist is a smartphone-based format. Like pen-and-paper and tablet-based trivia, smartphone trivia still involves a host who reads off questions and paces the game. However, the main difference is that guests use their own smartphones to submit answers.
Most venues hosting a trivia night with smartphones will designate a staff member to host the event. However, the platform is flexible and an outside, professional host could also run the event.
A good smartphone trivia system will still showcase the questions on your venue’s TVs – in addition to appearing on the guest’s phone. This prevents the host from having to shout over the crowd or repeat questions multiple times.
Team size is the same as other formats for hosting a trivia night: up to 5-6 people. Game length is typically an hour, although some venues may host back-to-back games.
Similar to tablet-based trivia, the best smartphone platforms will include access to thousands of questions (including recent content from news and pop culture).
While hosting a trivia night is ideal for attracting large crowds at a set time, don’t overlook the benefits of on-demand trivia. It’s a great way to add value to every guest’s visit by making it more entertaining and social. Here are your options for providing guests with trivia entertainment at all times.
Board Game Trivia: Some venues set out board games – like the classic Trivial Pursuit – or card decks of trivia questions for guests to use. Review this list of the best card-based trivia games for 2019.
TV Trivia: There are a handful of companies that offer trivia questions that run on TVs. Guests don’t “submit” answers, they just think about the questions or chat with friends about the answers.
Tablet and TV Trivia: Another option is a hybrid TV-tablet trivia system. Customers can play trivia whenever the venue is open on handheld tablets. Or, they can join in real-time trivia competitions that run 7 days a week, 15 hours a day on a national network. These network trivia games are shown on TVs and players use tablets to submit answers, similar to when you’re hosting a trivia night. During network gameplay, players can compete with those in the venue – and across the country. Throughout the year, there are also national trivia sweepstakes and tournaments that run on these TV-tablet systems.
Once you’ve selected a game format, the second step in hosting a trivia night is deciding on a host – and a source for your questions. Here is the formula for the ultimate trivia event:
Entertaining, Accurate QUESTIONS + Enthusiastic, Well-Prepared HOST
Here are today’s 3 most common ways of sourcing questions and an emcee for hosting a trivia night:
100% DIY: Your Staff Hosts, You Write Questions
If you’re up for a challenge, you can try hosting a trivia night on your own. That means you or one of your own staff members will emcee and host the event, and you’ll handle writing the questions.
The first step is selecting someone for hosting a trivia night. Look for these attributes:
- Energetic, animated
- Humorous, witty
- Life of the party, a true “people person”
The next step is to write those questions! According to the trivia company Quiz Runners, it takes about 8 hours to prepare good questions for hosting a trivia night. When writing questions, use these options:
- True or False
- Multiple choice
- Show a photo or video on screen, ask players to identify the content
multiple choice and true/false, luck is involved and most trivia players like to show off their smarts. Use these sparingly!
To find question content, do not use trivia websites like this preloaded with questions. You can’t be sure of the accuracy. Plus, many of the trivia is too obscure or outdated.
As you research trivia questions, be sure there is only one answer! And use at least two reputable sources to confirm you have the right answer. These 25 online sources for reliable facts are the best way to go. Wikipedia can be helpful, but it can contain misinformation. If you use Wikipedia, use the footnotes to see where the fact is coming from: be sure it is a reliable source.
Hosting a trivia night should involve a good mix of questions: write some that reference recent headlines and pop culture, others that tap into history, science, and the arts. If your goal is hosting a trivia night that’s themed, skip ahead to Step #6 for thought starters.
It’s always a good idea to do a practice run with staff before actually hosting a trivia night for the public, but it’s especially important if you opt for this 100% DIY method.
Professional Trivia Host and Questions
If your budget allows, you can hire a professional who can handle hosting a trivia night at your venue. Some hosts operate as sole proprietors, and handle everything themselves from questions to actually emceeing your event.
In larger cities, there may be a trivia company that employs multiple hosts. Some require a long-term contract; others can be hired on a per-event basis.
Before hosting a trivia night using an outside professional, go to one of their events and read online reviews. Then, interview the trivia company or host using these 23 questions – created by a long-time trivia host.
Your Staff Hosts Using Professional Trivia Questions
Many venues are now hosting a trivia night using their own staff members as the emcees – but purchasing trivia questions and scoring systems from outside companies.
The key advantage to this approach is both time and cost savings: as mentioned before, it can take up to 8 hours to write trivia questions for just one event.
If you go the route of hosting a trivia night yourself using outside questions, do your homework. The trivia company providing questions and scoring systems should assist with trivia night training, best practices, and even promotions and marketing. Here at Buzztime, we include all of the above for no additional fee.
PROs and CONs of Each Option
100% DIY: Your Staff Hosts, You Write Questions
- You can save money on hosting and questions. (However, you’ll still need to invest in equipment.)
- You call the shots and can create any questions or theme you want.
- If you, or a staff member, are hosting a trivia night, you can build bonds with guests.
- Do you have 8 hours to spare before hosting a trivia night? Be honest about this. Time is money, and if you take shortcuts on question writing, the event may flop.
- Writing trivia is an actual profession. Questions must be 100% accurate but also fun and interesting. That takes a lot of work.
Professional Trivia Host and Questions
- There’s minimal work on your part when hosting a trivia night using a pro.
- Most people who host live trivia are outgoing and social – creating a fun atmosphere.
- You might get sticker shock: emcees can charge up to $300 for hosting a trivia night. They may charge extra if you ask for specific trivia night themes.
- Trivia hosts work at multiple venues. If your customers love the host, they may follow them to a competitor…
- Remember, hosting a trivia night is a reflection of your business. If the host writes inaccurate or obscure questions, it can make you look bad – and won’t bring players back again.
Your Staff Hosts Using Professional Trivia Questions
- Save money by using your own team members.
- When your own staff are hosting a trivia night, they can create bonds with players.
- Questions are accurate, up-to-date, and written in an interesting format.
- Typically, when you purchase trivia questions, you can run as many trivia events as you want – for no extra fee.
- If you opt for a tablet-based system like Buzztime for hosting a trivia night, you can also give your guests access to on-demand trivia.
- Your reputation is at risk if you don’t purchase questions from a reliable, reputable trivia company.
- If your goal is hosting a trivia night around very specific trivia themes (like Harry Potter), you are better off writing questions yourself.
Now that you’ve decided on how you’re hosting a trivia night, who is hosting, and what your questions are…the next step is to help guide the host. Below you’ll find a step-by-step plan for you – or the host you use – to run a successful trivia night. There are variations based on what type of trivia night you are hosting: pen-and-paper, smartphone, or tablet.
Step 1) Kick Off the Event!
The first step in hosting a trivia night is to announce that the game is beginning!
Pen-and-Paper Trivia: Ensure each team has a pen and paper.
Tablet Trivia: The host uses a tablet to log in and start the game. Fully charged tablets are then distributed to all players. Always test that everything is working properly a few days before the event.
Smartphone Trivia: To begin hosting a trivia night using a smartphone system, use any wi-fi or internet-connected device to set up the game by entering a special code. It could be your own phone or a laptop. Then, share the trivia website with players – and give them a code to enter so they can join the game.
Step 2) Ask Players to Form Teams
The next step is to ask the group to form teams. Always decide in advance if NSFW (not safe for work) names are allowed. Discriminatory language should never be tolerated. Here are some of the most popular trivia team names out there today. As you can see, some names push the limits of decency…
Then, read off the rules – at every event – even if you’re hosting a trivia night on an ongoing basis.
Pen-and-Paper Trivia: Teams will announce their names to you.
Tablet or Smartphone Trivia: Teams submit their names on their devices. You can approve them from your own device.
Step 3) Get the Crowd Engaged and Set Gameplay Pace
The next step is critical! If gameplay moves too slowly, players may get bored and not return. The general rule of thumb for hosting a trivia night is to allow players 1 minute to submit answers.
When hosting a trivia night using tablets or smartphones, gameplay pace is much faster than the pen-and-paper method. Giving players a minute to answer is still general rule. However, you can see on your device when all teams have submitted answers, so it’s not always necessary to wait for the full minute.
Many players find tablet- and smartphone-based trivia more social: they can carry on conversations instead of running up answers to the host or hand scoring.
Step 4) Handle Challenges from Players
Be prepared for players to challenge some answers. Many hosts will state in the rules that they are the final “judge” on answers. Using tablets or smartphones – and answers provided by a reputable trivia company reduces the risk of players questioning your answers.
Step 5) Score the Game
A key component when hosting a trivia night is to keep everyone involved in the game. Giving regular updates on team standings is a great way to do this. Therefore, always score each round of trivia – then announce standings.
Pen-and-Paper Trivia: When hosting a trivia night using pen and paper, there are 2 primary scoring methods. You can create your own answer sheets, or print online answer sheets like these.
- Switch Scoring: After each round, teams swap their answer sheets with another team. You then read off the correct answers, and the team tallies up the score on the other team’s sheet. Then, all answer sheets are handed in to you.
- Host Scoring: After each round, the team submits their answer sheet directly to you, who tallies up the score.
Tablet or Smartphone Trivia: One of the advantages of hosting a trivia night with tablets or smartphones is that all scoring and standing updates are automatically generated. This saves the host significant time, and keeps gameplay moving. Automated scoring also makes it easy to run multi-week tournaments.
Step 6) Announce Standings
The 6th step in hosting a live trivia night is figuring out how to keep track of team standings. Announcing how teams are performing will always keep the crowd engaged during gameplay!
Pen-and-Paper Trivia: There are also multiple options for keeping track of standings when hosting a trivia night.
- Hand Standings: Add up the scores at each round by hand, and write standings on a large flip chart.
- Semi-Automated Standings: Or, enter the scores into an Excel sheet, which automatically calculates standings. There is also trivia scoring software available. Generally, when hosting a trivia night, these standings are then displayed on a TV or projected onto a screen.
Tablet or Smartphone Trivia: Even though standings and scores are displayed for players on their tablets or phones, and on the venue TVs, still make regular announcements to keep the friendly competition going.
Step 7) Watch for Cheating
A good host will keep watch for cheating! Always call out suspected cheaters while hosting a trivia night.
Pen-and-Paper Trivia: Many hosts require players to put their phones in a bucket or keep them out of sight during gameplay – or even throughout the entire event, including breaks.
Tablet Trivia: Most tablets used for hosting a trivia night do not provide internet access, so cheating via tablet is eliminated. Like pen-and-paper trivia, always announce rules for smartphone usage during the game (keep phones away, or even drop phones into a bucket).
Smartphone Trivia: When hosting a trivia night using smartphones, cheating is minimized if you select the right platform. It should include a feature that temporarily disables the phone’s search engines during gameplay.
Step 8) Take Photos
Plan to take a photos and videos of gameplay to share with the venue to post on social media or a website. With automated scoring on tablets and smartphones, you’ll have plenty of time to take photos and videos – and mingle with the crowd.
Step 9) Prepare for Tiebreakers
This is another very important step! If you’re hosting a trivia night using the pen-and-paper method, have a tiebreaker question ready. In the event of a tie, most tablet and smartphone systems include an additional tiebreaker round.
Step 10) Declare Winners and Distribute Prizes
The very last step is to wrap up your night! After hosting a trivia night, the winners are announced – and prizes are handed out. Always “tease” the next trivia event and invite everyone to attend.
Make an Equipment List
Depending on the format you choose for hosting a trivia night, your equipment list will vary. If you hire an outside trivia host, they may bring in their own equipment.
- Pen-and-Paper Trivia
- Pencils or pens
- Printouts of answer sheets
- Scoring sheet for host
- Mic and speaker set
- Optional: Laptop and HDMI cable to connect to TV, Screen, or Projector
- Tablet-Based Trivia
- Tablets (provided by trivia company)
- Trivia company sets up connection to your TVs/Screens
- Mic and speaker set
- Smartphone-Based Trivia
- Trivia company sets up connection to your TVs/Screens
- Mic and speaker set
Pro Tip: Licensing
Some trivia hosts run games based on music clips. The trivia host may claim that they have a license so you’re covered. However, the venue itself must have the license when hosting a trivia night that involves music. Obtaining proper licensing means paying fees to a PRO (performance rights organization). To learn more about licensing, review this helpful guide.
Anytime you’re hosting a trivia night, you should plan out logistics. This includes everything from a floor plan to how you’ll track RSVPs. Use these thought starters to prepare your list:
- Budget: How much do you have to spend on hosting a trivia night? Don’t forget extras like tipping the host, and promoting the event (skip to Step #7 for a marketing guide).
- Floor Plan: No matter how you go about hosting a trivia night, plan ahead and set up proper seating. Tables should be spaced apart as teams don’t want other players overhearing their answers!
- Tracking Attendees: Even if you’re hosting an event that’s free, require RSVPs or you risk turning away folks at the door.
- Capacity: Know the max capacity for your event space, and track RSVPs so they don’t go over that number.
- Staffing: When hosting a trivia night, plan out your staffing needs. We’ve covered the host, but what about door staff? Greeters? Will you need security? How about a photographer? Do you need extra bartenders or servers on staff? Outline your staff plan.
- Set Up and Take Down: Who is responsible for setting up equipment and when will it happen?
To help you organize your logistics, use this free 1-page event checklist.
The next step can make or break your event. Great prizes draw guests. So when hosting a trivia night, invest in prizes worth competing for! Don’t make the mistake of thinking the live trivia experience is a prize in itself. Competition is fierce for trivia night, and a creative prize is your best promotional secret weapon for hosting a trivia night. To help you, we’ve put together these 8 prize ideas:
- A Rotating Trivia Trophy, Championship Belt, or Giant Necklace with a big medallion that the winning team gets to take home. The winners will take plenty of pics and share on social media for instant word of mouth advertising for your live trivia event. Plus, they’ll need to return it the next week – or compete to keep it.
- Prize Wheel Keep guests guessing by switching up your prizes each week you are hosting a trivia night. You could even bring in a prize wheel with a mix of awesome prizes. Again, this gives you an excuse to promote and talk up your live trivia event.
- Sponsored Prizes Ask a local business if they would donate a prize. It could be a gift card or an actual item. In return, the sponsored business will be mentioned multiple times while you’re hosting a trivia night. You could also include their logo on your menu and other in-venue promotions.
- Bottle it Up If you run a brewery, winery, or distillery, make the prize a bottle of your booze. Since the team will need to split the winnings, opt for smaller bottles or even give away items like branded apparel. If you’re hosting a trivia night as a bar or restaurant, check with your liquor, wine or beer distributor to see if they have any bottles or promotional items you can give away.
- $50 Gift Card Giving a single $50 gift card almost guarantees that the team will come back to use it. When hosting a trivia night, don’t go lower than a $50 value for prizes.
- Appetizer Duo or Trio The 2-3 free appetizers can only be redeemed on a subsequent trivia night and on one table check. Let’s be honest. Sometimes guests just order up pitchers of beer for the table. An appetizer giveaway ensures the crowd is exploring your menu.
- Social Media Shout Out This should be included with every prize. Give the live trivia winners the spotlight. Snap a pic and share on social media. This becomes advertising for the next time you’re hosting a trivia night.
- Don’t Forget the Runner Up How about a pack of $2 coupons for the runner up team? Print them in bulk so you’ve always got them on hand each week.
The 6th step involves deciding if you will be hosting a trivia night that’s themed. The ultimate insider tip is this: Themed events are great, but themed questions can limit your crowd size.
When hosting a trivia night, it’s best to stick to general trivia or crowd-pleasing topics like pop culture or sports. However, some trivia hosts like to do quirky themes that may be impossible for the average person to answer (i.e Nicholas Cage movies). Instead, simply create a few bonus questions to ask during breaks that tie into your theme.
Here’s an example of themed event, but with general questions:
“Thinks and Drinks” Trivia: Questions are kept general. But each week you’re hosting a trivia night, feature a different type of wine or beer on special. Write a bonus question based on this featured drink.
If you’re hiring a trivia host, don’t be afraid to ask them to keep it general. With tablet-based trivia, questions are specifically created to appeal to everyone – so no worries there.
Check out 10 more ideas for hosting a themed event, but with general questions.
1 )Social Media Hashtag-Inspired Weekday Themes
Take inspiration from trending social media hashtags when hosting a trivia night with a theme. As an added bonus, you can use the hashtag when promoting your event on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter:
Hosting a trivia night on Monday can be the ultimate cure for a case of the Mondays. Add in a bonus round of trivia based on motivational quotes: ask players to guess who said the quote.
Other Hashtags: #ManCrushMonday or #MCM, #MusicMonday
Create a menu of special tacos for Taco Trivia Night and offer specials on pitchers of margaritas or sangria.
Other Hashtags: #TravelTuesday, #TuesdayThoughts
- #WineWednesday, #WhiskeyWednesday, #WednesdayWisdom
Add in a special round of trivia based on wine or whiskey questions. You could even serve small tastes and ask guests to name the type of wine or whiskey.
Other Hashtags: #WaybackWednesday, #WomanCrushWednesday or #WCW
Play old school music as you’re hosting a trivia night. (1990s rap goes over well with all generations these days). Add in a themed round where you show a picture of a staff member or famous person as a child, and teams ha ve to guess who it is.
Other Hashtags: #ThirstyThursday, #Thursdate, #ThankfulThursday
TGIF it’s Friday and you’re hosting a trivia night. Start the games early during the happy hour daypart and keep things more casual than you would during a midweek trivia event.
Other Hashtags: #Friyay, #FeelGoodFriday, #FlashbackFriday
2) Battle of the Charities
Show you’ve got heart when hosting a trivia night. An Edelman Good Purpose study revealed that 72% of people recommend businesses that support for causes they care about.
When hosting a trivia night with a charitable twist, invite teams to select a non-profit to represent. Reward the winning charity with a donation. Of course, spotlight the champion charity on social media, too.
You can even get more specific with your philanthropic trivia night themes. For example, invite volunteers from all local animal rescues and shelters to compete.
3) Holiday Themed Trivia
Try hosting a trivia night that ties into a holiday. In addition to the “big holidays,” there are hundreds of more obscure holidays to inspire your event: from National Trivia Day on January 4th to New Beer’s Eve on April 6th. Use this list of 31 unique holidays to get started, along with these ideas:
- Talk Like a Pirate Trivia
September 19th is Talk Like a Pirate Day. Ask the host to read the questions in a pirate voice and throw in a few pirate-related trivia questions.
- Trivia for Two
Around Valentine’s Day, consider hosting a trivia night for couples. Or, run a mixer event for singles who can mingle over trivia.
- Trick or Trivia
Tie a costume contest into your trivia event, awarding bonus points to the team with the best costumes. Hand out candy at every round.
- May the Fourth Be With You
May 4th is Star Wars Day as well as the eve of Cinco de Mayo. The Kentucky Derby often falls around this time, too. Go for a trifecta when hosting a trivia night in early May by adding a few bonus questions that cover all three subjects.
4) Corporate Challenge
It’s team building made simple for local business owners. Consider trivia night themes that welcome them into your venue for friendly competition. You could explore hosting a trivia night for one entire company. Or, set it up so that local businesses play against each other.
5) Industry Night
Nurses versus teachers. Customer service reps versus construction crews. Give a shot out to various professions by inviting them to create teams based on their livelihood.
6) Hosting a Trivia Night…with a Tasting
If you run a venue that serves alcohol, serve small pours of beers and then ask questions based on the brews you serve. It could be requiring players to identify the type of beer, or even the brewer. You could do the same with wine, or small pours of spirits.
7) Your Town Trivia
Contact a local historical society to see if they’re game for hosting a trivia night. Create questions based on local history, landmarks, and legends, plus throw in some current events and local pop culture, too.
8) Family Faceoff
Families can get in on the fun when you’re hosting a trivia night for all ages. Be clear about the age requirements and check the questions carefully if you host live trivia for families. Some trivia night themes may be too mature for younger folks.
9) Brainiac’s Brunch
It seems like every bar and restaurant is getting in on the weekend brunch craze. How can you stand out? Instead of hosting a trivia night, go for a “braniac’s brunch” event.
10) Sports, Sports, Sports!
If you run a sports bar, considering hosting a trivia night devoted to sports…football, baseball, basketball.
The final step is to spread the word that you’re hosting a trivia night! But how much do you spend? When should you start marketing your event? What marketing channels should you use. This final step explains how to do it…
Create a Marketing Budget
First, create a marketing budget. Most hospitality venues – like bars and restaurants – dedicate 3-6% of their total sales to their marketing and events budget. When looking at your budget on a per-event basis, a good rule of thumb is to spend 25% on actual event costs (host fees, questions, equipment) and the remaining 75% on promoting the event to the public (advertising fees, flyers, etc.).
Build a Promotional Calendar
After you’ve created your marketing budget, plan out your promotional tactics using this marketing guide for hosting a trivia night.
DO THIS ASAP…IT’S NEVER TOO EARLY!
Create a Facebook Event
Whenever you’re hosting a trivia night, always create a Facebook event (it’s free). Then, Facebook automatically suggests your event to friends of those who have RSVPed. To maximize your event’s exposure, pay to “boost” the Facebook event to be seen by a target audience that you define.
Submit Events to Community Calendars
Write up a short paragraph describing your trivia event. Then, submit it! Most radio and TV stations, newspapers (both print and online), and city magazines let the public submit events to be listed on their community calendars…for free.
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Boost Your Facebook Event
On Facebook, invest just $50 to “boost” your Facebook event. You can also run static or video ads on both Facebook and Instagram. You set the budget, and define your target audience by age, interests, location, and other variables.
Launch In-Venue Marketing
From posters to table tents, clever coasters to window clings, use the marketing space within your own 4 walls to promote that you’re hosting a trivia night. Use this guide to unlock 15 hidden in-venue marketing opportunities.
If you’ve opted for a tablet-based trivia system, the company may also include software that turns your tablets and TVs into digital signage. When hosting a trivia night, you can use these “digital billboards” to highlight your event – and drive RSVPs.
Send an Email Invitation
Send out an email that you’re hosting a trivia night with the subject line: “You’re invited!” This makes the email feel personal. Include a link to your Facebook event so the recipient can RSVP.
Trivia Company Emails
Some trivia companies will email trivia players on your behalf. For example, here at Buzztime, we regularly send emails about our national competitions, sweepstakes, and new games to over 10 million trivia players nationwide. The emails include a link for players to find the nearest location hosting a trivia night.
Offer to set out postcards or flyers for a few local businesses. In return, ask that they spread the word that you’re hosting a trivia night by handing out YOUR postcards. Of course, put these flyers within your business as well. For about $100, you can get over 1,000 small postcards at Vista Print.
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Send a Press Release to Local Media
If you’re hosting a trivia night that’s out of the ordinary – or you’re starting to host trivia for the first time – alert local media by sending them a 1-page press release. Examples of newsworthy trivia events: especially big prizes, charity tournaments, holiday trivia like a costume contest, or a crazy creative theme.
Find the Influencers
Social influencers are people who have a large following on Facebook, Instagram, or their own personal blog. You pay the influencer alert their followers that you’re hosting a trivia night. Find influencers at BuzzSumo.
Enlist Your Team
When hosting a trivia night, enlist your staff to talk up the event. They should personally invite your customers to trivia night.
Run Google Ads
Pay Google (and other search engines like Yahoo and Bing) to have your business show up when someone searches the phrase “trivia night” in your area. You set the budget and define the audience.
Think Small with Adlets
On FM radio, run shorter “adlets” – 5 or 15 seconds long – that say when and where you’re hosting a trivia night. They cost less and are heard more frequently.
1 WEEK OUT
Post a Teaser Question
Engage with trivia lovers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram by posting a trivia question with a photo. When you give the answer, tease your upcoming trivia event.
Send Another Email to Customers
Send a follow up email to customers to remind them you’re hosting a trivia night.
WHILE HOSTING A TRIVIA NIGHT
Give everyone FOMO (fear of missing out), while you’re hosting a trivia night. Stream live video to Facebook and Instagram from your smartphone! Mark Zuckerberg himself said in 2018 that the Facebook newsfeed will prioritize live videos – which see 6x more engagement than other posts. Use this step-by-step guide for live streaming while hosting a trivia night.
AFTER THE EVENT
Wrap it Up
Get in the habit of posting a photo gallery to all social media platforms after hosting a trivia event. It will show everyone else what they missed – and give those who attended a reason to visit your social media sites.
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