The Millennial generation is driving change across all industries, including nightlife. Defined as the ages of 18 through 35 – the prime ages to be targeting for the nightlife industry – they value experiences over physical goods, and will prioritize their money accordingly. In today’s nightlife climate, engaging your guests in new, exciting ways is the key to building a strong business.
The old way of doing business with long lines, slow bar service, and apathetic staff is no longer acceptable. This generation is going to go elsewhere to get the experience they want, and we’re no longer talking about just another venue down the street; you’re now competing with sporting events, the theater, movies, Netflix, and even vacations. After all, one Millennial interviewed in The Guardian stated, “A night out now costs almost as much as a weekend away…and a weekend away looks better on Instagram.”
So don’t just open your doors and pray that people walk through. Think about the best possible experience you can give your guests. Create themes for your night. Be a part of bigger event opportunities. Think about ways to host interactive events. Transform your space using more design elements. Create the experiences this generation craves. People are more likely to go out when a unique experience is offered, and they’re more likely to continue when that experience is personalized. Challenge yourself, get creative, and have fun with the opportunities.
Here’s how you can provide personal experiences to your guests to attract them and maintain their loyalty to your venue.
1. Capture Guest Information
A survey conducted by Accenture discovered that 85% of their participants are willing to provide their information to trusted retailers in exchange for targeted, personalized information. Use this to your advantage. Your customers are not only willing to give their information to you, but they’re conditioned to do so. This is especially true when pre-purchasing items online. Use guest list, ticketing, or reservation forms on your site so your guests not only begin to buy in advance (note: more guaranteed revenue), but also so that you can collect their information.
You can also capture this information at your door throughout the night using a digital system. That way, you’re able to collect data on every type of customer that walks in your venue. And when you connect this to your point-of-sale system, you’re able to unearth even more valuable information. This means you have a database of all your guests, including their name, contact info, how many times they’ve been to your venue, whether they’re a VIP/guest list/event/general admission customer, how much money they’ve spent, and their most popular drink purchases.
2. Send Personal Marketing
With your database, you now have a complete buyer persona for all your target customer segments, including demographic, geographic, and psychographic information. This means you have the opportunity to get personal with your marketing. You can send a specific message catered to a specific group of people, such as sending a birthday text message to anyone celebrating a birthday this week and inviting them to celebrate with you. Or you can target customers who have attended a certain event in the past, and send them an exclusive invitation to a similar upcoming event before tickets are released to the public. Making your customers feel like you know what’s happening in their life, or like you understand their interests, is what makes your messages personal and powerful. They’ll feel like insiders and will naturally establish a deeper connection with your venue. This also helps to make sure the time and money you’re spending on your marketing is spent wisely and giving you a return on investment.
3. Make Their Night Special
Your personalization shouldn’t stop at marketing. You can keep this experience going when they get to your venue as well. When you use a system, you take the guesswork out and are able to understand your customers at a deeper level. Say goodbye to paper guest lists, and start providing personalized service at your door. Use license scanning technology to capture information from every guest who walks through your door. If you see a customer is a regular guest list customer who comes to your venue every week, upsell them to a VIP table and provide a complimentary bottle of Champagne as a thank you. Or, offer them a round of drinks on the house at the bar. This costs you very little but means a lot to them. It’s a simple gesture that’s perceived by the guest as a premium, highly personalized level of service. It shows that person how much they are valued and entices them to stay longer, spend more, bring more friends, and come back more often. This is how you organically build loyalty.
4. Humanize Your Data
All of the above is made more possible when you have the data at your disposal. I know, the word data makes most people cringe – that’s why it’s all about humanizing that data. You don’t want to spend your time combing through spreadsheets of data points that don’t make a ton of sense just to try to connect the dots yourself. Instead, use a system built specifically for the nightlife industry that handles event management, tickets, reservations, guest lists, and general admission while being backed by easy-to-understand data and analytics.
When all of that is in the same system, you get comprehensive results to truly understand and grow your business. You gain insight on your venue’s performance, what your trends are, what your best marketing channels are, and in-depth details about your guests at a click of a button. Do you see something that’s working well with your guests? Keep doing it. See something that’s not? Can it. Want to send a personalized message to anyone with a birthday this week? Do it.
Treating guests like the individuals they are and catering your experience to their needs isn’t hard. All it takes is a system that captures all your information in one place, your staff to use that system so it automatically pulls necessary information on the guests walking through your door, and your ability to execute on providing that exclusive experience. It’s the little things that make the biggest differences to your guests and brings the biggest dollars to you.