Social StandardsJune 8, 2011 By: Alissa Ponchione
This far into the social-media age, your bar or club should have a team driving its presence on Facebook and Twitter, keeping up with Yelp reviews and even exploring social-media sites, such as Foursquare. Even with all of that going on, you need to be seeking out what’s next on the social-media spectrum. For one savvy operator, that means tapping into developing marketing opportunities and getting in on the ground floor.
A guest at 32º Luxe Lounge's weekly MeepMe event begins anonymous flirting.
As principal/founder of Philadelphia-based GuestCounts Hospitality, operator of 32º Luxe Lounge locations in Philadelphia and Atlantic City, N.J., as well as the Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar nightclub/restaurant concept with locations in Orlando, Atlantic City, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, Barry Gutin is always looking for what’s next.
Gutin met Matt Newberg in the fall of 2010 while they were working together on social-media strategy for Gutin’s businesses. When Gutin learned about Newberg’s new social-marketing tool, MeepMe, a chat platform developed to promote anonymous flirting among Millennials via texting, he was intrigued.
From there, Newberg and his MeepMe team worked with Gutin to set up 32º Luxe Lounge as a beta-testing site for the new technology, enhancing GuestCounts’ social-marketing strategy. Being an early adopter certainly is paying off for Gutin’s operation.
MeepMe makes social marketing truly social because it incorporates interactive technology and real human interaction — it’s SMS-fueled speed dating — within the four walls of a venue. Here’s how it works: All a venue needs to host a MeepMe event are TV screens and
Wi-Fi. Participating patrons gather at a scheduled MeepMe event and are assigned a unique identifying number that they wear on a preprinted sticker. The flirting commences by sending a text via MeepMe’s official phone number to the ID number of the person of interest. That’s when the fun really starts. Because MeepMe is integrated into the establishments’ TV setup, messages appear on the screen throughout the night (obsc
ene messages are deleted from the screen, and users can be blocked if it continues).
“When you initiate a conversation with someone, you know his/her identity, but they don’t know yours,” Newberg explains.
Participants then decide whether they want to meet the person who texted them.
Gutin and Newberg held the first MeepMe event on May 6 at 32º Luxe Lounge. Since then, numbers have grown every week, with an average of 150 participants showing up to the 200-capacity lounge. Gutin said people are “definitely staying longer and spending more money.”
These events proved a deceptively simple marketing strategy for Gutin and his team. With minimal setup, the club attracts a crowd of singles interested in hanging out, ordering a few drinks and potentially meeting someone new using a new social-marketing tool. Thus far, things are heading in the right direction.
“The reason it’s effective is it’s technological but in a way that people understand,” Gutin explains. “Even during the night, they’re texting their friends to come out and stop by [to try it out].”
The relationship between 32º Luxe Lounge and MeepMe is symbiotic; Gutin helps Newberg gain exposure and word-of-mouth interest about MeepMe, while Gutin uses this modern technology to grow his client base by attracting young people to his venue. What’s more, the program drives repeat customers, as patrons now return to the weekly MeepMe events.
Having had experience with “flirtatious” promotions in the past, Gutin finds they work best “as a weekly, because typically they’re hard to understand from a flyer or ad. They become clear to the guest when they’re on site. Those guests go out and tell their friends about it in a way that we can’t easily communicate in an email or message.”
Patrons are assigned a unique identifying number that they wear on a preprinted sticker before they start texting.
Aside from turning a typically slow night – Monday – into a money-maker, Gutin also gains access to the growing database of mobile numbers MeepMe collects from the events. He plans to set up a text-messaging program to invite new clientele not only to MeepMe events but also to other promotions. Gutin and Newberg are nurturing the program together.
“We’re waiting on a sufficient number and the right promotion to use for the text blasts,” he explains.
“The goal for MeepMe is to build a platform that can be a hub for these events, tapping into our technology and creating this really enchanting user experience that is fun and attracts loyalty,” Newberg says.
Social-media marketing is tenuous; some things fizzle before they even get off the ground, while others take off after a few tweaks. By working together, Gutin and Newberg are developing a program that effectively supplies a younger generation, who respond to text messages, emails, social-networking posts and anything mobile, with a social-media tool that keeps them engaged and, more importantly, coming back for more.