The busiest nights of the year are great revenue-generators for clubs and bars.
As we enter the run-up to the holiday season, bars and clubs are only too aware that there are busy nights, and there are really busy nights. On these evenings, business surges and both management and staff have a lot to handle.
New Year’s Eve and Halloween are the biggest nights of the year by far for Stage 48, a multi-use club in New York City. Following closely behind is Super Bowl Sunday.
Timing the promotion of these events is crucial, says Pedro Zamora, president of the Hell’s Kitchen venue.
Stage 48 has four floors and six bars and on big nights like these has three events happening for the 3,000 to 4,000 people that typically show up (a normal night is closer to 2,500 guests).
“We start promoting these events just three to four weeks in advance,” Zamora says. “People aren’t ready to make up their mind if you do it too far in advance.”
But to get the ball rolling quickly, he increases the prices as the dates get nearer. “The sooner you buy it the cheaper it is,” he says.
It’s also important to do something special on these big nights, especially for regular customers who need a little extra pizzazz to get excited. Zamora brings in special dancers or DJs and on his biggest nights offers prix fixe entry, which includes the cover charge, a buffet and an open bar for five hours (9 p.m. to 2 a.m.).
He offers this at different levels, too, to make it accessible to everyone. The prices for this year’s New Year’s Eve event range from $79 to $159, with the top tickets being classed as VIP. These guests can access an exclusive area in Stage 48, where they’ll find premium liquor being served and higher end food offerings on the buffet. They also get reserved banquet or nightclub seating and table service.
To promote these events Stage 48 uses everything from posters and local print publications to its own giant screen TVs, social media and email and text blasts. Radio is a huge part of the marketing plans. “We make deals with the big radio stations and ask them to put together a promotional plan. We tell them the type of party it is and what we want the promotion to be like,” says Debbie Medina, director of special events.
On social media, Stage 48 holds contests for followers to win tickets to big events, and it also runs live contests on radio stations, using famous DJs when possible. Sometimes the artist who’s scheduled to perform will give an interview to the club, which it then posts on social media to whet customers’ appetites.
“We make it exciting,” Medina says.
Be ready for your upcoming big nights, by making a few preparations:
- Look at your numbers for last year—if you have them, and if not, make an educated guess—and gauge how many more staff you’ll need on a busy night. Remember it’s always better to be over-staffed than under-staffed.
- Consider making menu changes. Complicated drinks and appetizers can be great for attracting clientele, but not if they slow everything down. Consider removing time-consuming products for that night only.
- It might be elementary, but double-check you have sufficient stock.
- Be prepared for everything. Have coat hangers ready for jackets; have a broom and mop ready for spills; be ready for bad weather with mats outside; have glassware and silverware ready to go.