I’ve spent the past decade watching bar and nightclub operators struggle to manage their businesses and communicate with their customers. It has always been fascinating: people have transformed how they’ve interacted with businesses and brands, but hospitality venues haven’t yet adopted to the change.
Consumers have gotten accustomed to the savviness of online businesses sending recommendations based on past habits and reminders based on timing. It’s personal. It’s experience driven. It’s humanized.
And now it’s driving change within nightlife.
What I’ve noticed is the gap between how venues operate and what customers expect creates a void between customers and venues, and a disconnect in business performance. But the root issue is more than just consumers adapting at a faster rate than venues can keep up with.
The root issue is data. Not just any data, humanized data.
There’s data all over your venue. Your POS system, your guestlist, your reservations, website visitors, general admission guests, inventory, and even your staff are all data points that exist throughout your venue. The issue is none of it talks to each other, so all it ever exists as is raw datapoints that you may or may not even know you have access to.
When you combine all your data, you have the possibility of seeing the complete picture. Think of it as a puzzle, where each sector of your business is one puzzle piece. When combined, you have the complete picture—that’s comprehensive data.
The next step is to take that comprehensive data and humanize it. But what does this actually mean?
Humanized data tells a story. It provides insights into which triggers increase or decrease business performance and guest experience. It’s about turning quantitative numbers into qualitative actions.
Let’s take your POS reports as a starting point. As an individual puzzle piece, you can pull reports and see what your total sales were for a given day and how many transactions made up those sales. But if you stop there, you’re only looking at one piece of the puzzle.
When you combine your POS with an ID scanner, you open the door to understanding who the guests were that made up those transactions and even who the guests were that attended but didn’t buy anything. When you sync POS and ID scan with your inventory management system and your staffing system, you begin to get comprehensive data on what combination makes a night a success, and what combination makes a night a failure.
With humanized data, you turn the raw comprehensive datapoints into a story. What started as 800 transactions for a total of $32,000 is now 1,000 guests from across the state—of which 66 percent are new and 34 percent are returning. Their primary age ranges are between 21 and 30 years old, with 26 to 30 being the densest. They’re primarily male who have an average cost per transaction of $32, which was made up of four items. Whiskey Coke rail drinks were the most popular order, particularly made with Jack Daniel’s. The busiest check-in time was the 11:00 p.m. hour, more specifically at 11:45 p.m. But you were overstaffed from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., causing your labor-to-sales ratio to ultimately hinder your profitability for the night.
Now that’s humanized data. It’s not just numbers in a spreadsheet, it’s a wholistic story of what made up a night. It’s a buyer persona to work from. It’s insight into which triggers you can pull to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
When you have access to this level of insight, you can start asking yourself these questions:
- How do my gender or age demographics affect my sales?
- At what percentage of capacity do I start losing money?
- What types of music bring in the most bar sales?
- Are you more profitable during special events or regular nights?
The best part is, when everything is synced, it’s also tracked and measured so you can try different things and see the impact they have on your business. It’s this mentality that has allowed other industries to thrive, and it’s this level of insight that will allow you to close that gap with your customers and build a powerful business.
Planning on attending the 2019 Nightclub & Bar Show in Las Vegas this March? Whitney Larson will be presenting an education session focused on how to build guest loyalty the modern way—by generating custom guest experiences. Don’t miss “Drive Loyalty Without Building a Program” on Tuesday, March 26. Register now!