3 Ways to Keep a Steady Winter Crowd

ways to keep a winter crowd

On Friday evenings after a long day in the office, there’s a big decision to make - hit the local bar for happy hour with co-workers, or make the trek home to change and make it a "big night." Problem is, it's winter.

Once you finally get home and hit the couch, you realize the polar vortex has the city in its grips outside. All of a sudden your nightlife destination seems a bit farther. This scenario poses serious challenges for nightlife operators.

No matter what surprises the weather presents, there are venues that keep a steady crowd during the bleak winter months. While the snow falls, the wind howls, and the journey feels like an endurance trial, crowds will still find a way to get to your venue...if you focus on these three characteristics.

1. Consistency

Whether you're expecting a slow night or not, it's important to deliver the same quality service and entertainment that you would in the summer. According to Chris Finkenor, general manager of EMM Group Nightlife, this is a crucial aspect to keeping your audience consistent. By delivering the "same quality of product," he says the crowd will show up no matter what. 

"The best tip I can offer is to go above and beyond for the patron," Finkenor says. "During this time we find that our strong internal network still brings people out even during the slowest winter weekends."

Michael Goldberg, director of marketing for Butter Group, which owns 1OAK, agrees. He believes that consistency should also carry over toward one's social media marketing efforts.

"During the winter months specifically, people are spending more time indoors which usually means they are spending more time on their phone or computer," Goldberg says. "We want to make sure that we are maximizing this to get our message across to all of our followers."

2. Aesthetics

After an arduous frigid commute, a venue has to feel inviting. Shake things up with seating and lighting to offer a cozier atmosphere that patrons will appreciate. 

Finkenor suggests being tactful with lighting and music at the start of the night and not going full throttle, which could be a bit overwhelming.

"In the beginning of the night we keep the lights dimmer and play lower energy music to create an intimate atmosphere before the inevitable party ensures," he says. "We also like to build from the dance floor outwards in order to maintain a party in the main area of the venue.”

Try to incorporate some new elements into the venue that subconsciously create a more appealing environment for guests. Goldberg shared that 1OAK's fireplace, exposed wood and big horseshoe banquettes have helped make the nightclub a quintessential winter room. 

3. Embracing The Season At The Bar

There's nothing you can do about the weather from December to March. Like it or not “…winter is here.” Embrace the season and use it to your advantage. There are some unique things you can do to play on the season and spice up your venue's offerings to guests. Yes...the drinks.

While the bar will get its fair share of beer and run-of-the-mill cocktail requests, patrons will be looking for something to warm them up once they first hit the bar. 

According to Goldberg, 1OAK's sister property, Butter, introduces warm cocktails to its menu in the winter months that go well for the crowd. After all, you may want to stick to your routine poison throughout the night, but you'll need a transition drink to get you there first, and it's best if it isn't served on ice. 


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