Any time a holiday comes around, there’s ample room for anxiety for any bar or nightclub owner. From brainstorming ideas to planning and training staff, even ensuring there’s enough security, there are countless things to get ready. Not to mention, creating an event that makes your establishment shine amongst all your competitors. Mark Vidano, VP of operations for MarkeTeam Inc., knows that hosting a holiday event is daunting, and as the major bar season begins with Halloween, it’s important to revisit and hone those promo-throwing skills.
1. Work together with your competition. For big holiday events, especially Halloween, every bar or club is doing something, and usually those promotions are very similar—a costume contest, live music, DJs, specialty drinks, etc. How can you stand out? “Pair up with other bars,” Vidano says. “If you have a few bars within walking distance, consider selling wristbands that will allow customers to get into any of the bars. Collective efforts can draw bigger crowds for everyone.”
2. Safety and security are high priorities. With Halloween, there’s always a high security risk because patrons will be wearing costumes often that includes masks that cover faces. “Costumes present a problem with correctly IDing,” Vidano explains. “Make sure door, bartenders and servers are re-instructed on how to properly ID. Don’t just count on your door people to ID.” Vidano says he’s seen bar licenses suspend because the doorperson didn’t catch and underage person. Make sure that on those big holiday nights, having enough staff on hand helps.
3. Be organized. Don’t get caught in the mayhem or overwhelmed by hosting a big promotion. Vidano advises to “put together a planner with who does what: décor, social-media promotion, traditional media promotion, specialty drink recipes.” Another focal point is doing pre-party events leading up to the promotion. Vidano says this provides opportunities for additional sales.
4. Think of money-making ideas. For Halloween, there are ample opportunities for profit. Vidano explains owners can charge a cover to use as prize money on costume contests, which can increase overall profitability. “Set up beer or shot stations around the bar or club, the more grab-and-go locations, the higher your sales.” However, Vidano does warn that competition for cash contests can get out of hand, but they do draw a decent crowd. “If you’re going to get them in for a big prize push, it has to be as late as you can so that your customers don’t really have a chance to go somewhere else and enter another contest.”
5. Definite party dos. In any circumstance, there are a variety of promotion dos, Vidano says: “Do use social media. Do take advantage of your regular clientele. Do take lots of pictures throughout the night to post on your social sites.” Specifically for Halloween, Vidano says to decorate. “A few cobwebs don’t say, ‘Come here for your party.’ Do something to the outside to attract attention as well.”