Stick to the Basics During Happy Hour

This term Happy Hour used for years is a marketing phrase representing a period of time in which guests receive special offers or discounts on adult beverages (Beer, Wine and Spirits).

Happy Hour

Typically, Happy Hour is a late afternoon initiative to build sales during slow or off peak periods. Happy Hour can range from 4PM -7PM, give or take an hour.  There is also movement to take advantage of late night happy hours to leverage the growing Millennial base or young adults, ages 21-39. A typical late night happy hour would run from 9 or 10 pm to close. Millennial’s, the new powerful demographic of diverse, educated and demanding consumers possess the highest incidence of trying new adult beverages.  They are also the most frequent purchasers of adult beverages in casual dining.  

Here are 3 keys to developing and executing awesome Happy Hours, while “Sticking to The Basics.”

1. POP or Creative

  • Utilize creative point of purchase (POP) to invite and excite guests to order specific features.  Ask yourself “is this good for your guest” when determining and selecting impactful point of purchase material.  Colorful posters, menu inserts, table-top material that call out Happy Hour and Late Night features will assist greatly. 
  • Social Media platforms that promote Happy Hours and Late Night can provide a competitive advantage. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube along with an impactful website play a major role in driving beverage sales and increasing traffic. Understanding fan engagement is paramount. 
  • Simplicity in messaging is critical.  Do not clutter tables and bar tops with multiples of messages.  You will confuse your guest.

2. Offers

  • Focus on a few great offers and trends in beer, wine and spirits.  You will not get credit for having more, rather having the right drink features that your guests will order.
  • Caution deep discounting.  To drive trial and meet financial objectives make sure you ask yourself “can we make money.”  
  •  Go deep with popular brands and features.  Happy Hour is not the time to test new ideation. Focus ideation around top moving spirits (i.e. Vodka, Rum and Tequila). Crafts and IPA’s are the hottest brews.  Feature mainstream wine varietals with basic, easy to understand descriptions.
  • It is critically important to support legislation to keep our highways safe with responsible alcohol serving.  Focus on food offering (1/2 priced or discounted appetizers during Happy Hour).  This is also an opportunity to showcase your culinary expertise.

3. People

  • Envision tomorrow that your restaurant is promoting “Free Ribs and Beer” from 5PM for ONE hour.  While this is hypothetical, you must staff your bar using this mentality. 
  • When was the last time you walked into a bar and said to yourself, “WOW, these guys have too many bartenders”...Never!  Don’t simply accommodate, but staff for success to build and grow your business.   Find your formula and sweet spot for your staffing needs.
  • Your staff is key.  Insure team members are crystal clear on all promotions, LTO’s and Happy Hour features, including Late Night.  Team member knowledge is king and will help you answer the question “Can we Execute.”
  • Team members will also tell you what they like when visiting competitors during Happy Hour.  Listen to them; your Millennials know exactly what is hot out there.   

Remember, simplicity in messaging and execution is critically important in developing and driving a successful Happy Hour program.  Great POP, the right features, well trained and excited team members will make the difference.   



For a Complimentary Operations Assessment Contact George Barton

Suggested Articles

Learn how to convert interested leads into faithful followers and, eventually, booked clients.

Research from the latest National Restaurant Association and Yelp Show the Latest Rate in Closures

Six-month sales, education and networking virtual event series offers a brand-new approach for the industry to connect with owners, operators and supp