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Getting the Crowds on Black Wednesday

November 10, 2010 By: Alissa Ponchione


Thanksgiving Eve, also known as Black Wednesday, is one of the busiest nights for bars and clubs, so make sure you’re taking advantage of it by offering an entertaining night out for new and old faces alike.

Chances are, your business will see an increase in numbers, so you must plan for it. Arturo Gomez, president of Rockit Ranch Productions in Chicago, knows the value of Thanksgiving Eve, and he knows how to prepare for it. At two of his Chicago venues, Rockit Bar & Grill and The Underground, he and his team have been planning their Thanksgiving Eve promotions for three months.

Because Thanksgiving Eve sees groups going out together and tends to be more of a large reunion date, Gomez targets alumni groups, strategically placing advertisements through online venues and personal contacts. In fact, Gomez says most of the marketing is done online — his rough estimate accounts for 70 percent of efforts on Facebook, Twitter and his websites while 30 percent is through conventional advertisements. He’s hoping this viral campaign will account for 1,500 people at Rockit Bar and 800 at The Underground on Thanksgiving Eve. Though this is no different than the numbers either of these places see on a Friday or Saturday night, Gomez says it’s important to maintain consistency with large numbers on this night, especially if your bar or club is closed Thanksgiving Day. Additionally, you likely are attracting a crowd beyond your regulars, as Thanksgiving Eve brings in once-locals back visiting family, so you want to present a strong showing so they’ll want to return next time they’re back in town.

“For us, this formula is pretty simple. We create an entertaining package that we can sell,” he says.

At Rockit Bar & Grill, the DJ will use visual elements to promote an energetic and lively atmosphere. With 15 60-inch plasma TVs, the DJ will set up his equipment so he’s able to produce and mix videos through the TVs. “We wanted to do something that creates more of a party atmosphere,” Gomez says. “It’s such a big party night that doing something different, in terms of visual production, enhances the experience.”

This also means offering guests some sort of drink promotion to get them inside the door. Gomez says this extra layer of attention drives traffic, even if they’re keeping it simple by offering buckets of Budweiser, Bud Light and Heineken bottles, as well as deals on Mojitos and Margaritas.

Meanwhile, at The Underground, Gomez is shooting for the younger crowd by enlisting the talents of DJ Cobra, who tends to be more popular with college students who are home for the holiday.

What’s more, Gomez says a smart viral campaign, traditional marketing tools and knowing how popular the night is can benefit your business, if done right. Thanksgiving Eve is a busy — and profitable — night, and Gomez knows it’s important to step up your game. For Gomez that means aggressively marketing the week before Thanksgiving so his guests not only can plan for a great time at a big party, but also will be thankful for a fun night out.


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