5 Tips on Scoring with Gaming Systems

Many bar owners opt to have gaming systems or jukeboxes in their establishment with the hopes that it will add extra revenue to their bottom line. Indeed, this is a smart way to capture an audience that might otherwise leave after one drink. However, most owners don’t know how to capitalize on what those machines can really do for their businesses and, more importantly, their bottom line. Here are a few tips to help you use your machines to differentiate your business from your competition.

1. Think outside the (juke)box. One of the many benefits of having a jukebox in your establishment is that it allows you to focus exclusively on certain holidays and seasons. Marc Felsen, vice president of corporate marketing at TouchTunes, says making holiday playlists will draw customers to the jukebox to play songs throughout the night. He says a Valentine’s Day or a Fourth of July playlist not only promotes a lot of different artists but also attracts guests to play more than one song. What’s more, he says, adding an another promotion to the playlist, like including a sweepstakes to go to a concert or win a signed instrument, is a clever extension to a promotion that piques guests' interests and opens their wallets.

2. Host a tournament. There is one thing you can count on when it comes to your guests: They’re competitive, especially after a couple of drinks. NTN Buzztime recently acquired a company called Stump. “It’s live trivia with a host,” explains Jennifer Abreo-Jennett, manager of business development at the company. Live trivia can add excitement to the crowd and create enthusiasm among guests, often becoming a weekly staple. That's something patrons surely don’t want to miss out on when they have the chance.

3. Start small.  Piera Norris, general manager at Hooters in Fairfax, Va., didn’t initially understand the benefits of their Buzztime trivia machine until they began their weekly "Are You Smarter Than a Hooters Girl?" trivia contest that’s tied in with the Buzztime trivia game. “Our dinner crowd starts at 7 p.m. We were full at 5 p.m.,” she says. “They were excited about the trivia.” By starting small, Norris was able to understand Buzztime's potential and promote it enough to produce an event that continues to grow in popularity. Winners receive prizes such as T-shirts, and more importantly, “It definitely helps the bottom line,” she says.

4. Make a slow night a popular one. Slow weeknights can drag down the ambience of a usually exciting bar or nightclub. Drink and food promotions may help, but if you want to see the same crowds that pack your bar on a weekend night, a tournament using your gaming system can do the trick. Allie Katz in Augusta, Ga., holds tournaments, such as Golden Tee golf tournaments. These tournaments are such a crowd-pleaser that they draw crowds of observers to watch the games. Owner Brian Birmingham says that guests spend at least $20 each, no matter if they’re playing or watching.

5. Every now and then go big. When Kanye West and Jay-Z went out on their "Watch the Throne" concert tour, Buzztime created a promotion for trivia-game players. Working with Live Nation, Buzztime will promote concerts throughout the year in the various bars and clubs that use the gaming system. Live Nation concentrates on the advertising and Buzztime representatives work with the bar to set up the promotion. “In Greeneville, S.C., we had some tickets. We did promos throughout the whole market. It wasn’t bar vs. bar, but we’d go in and help the bartender come up with something compelling,” she explains. She says that a rep would help a bartender with signage and generate buzz with an onsite competition. “All of the feedback was great … It helps bring people in, and we provide the prizing and marketing. It’s not money out of (the owners’ pocket). It’s definitely a perk,” she adds.

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