Brainstorming, planning and implementing promotions is no easy task. Not every promotions drives business or revenues and some may be complete failures. But when bar or nightclub owners take promotions seriously, they have the potential of firing on all cylinders: drawing crowds, making regular guests happy, building repeat customers and achieving bottom-line goals. BarIQ asked bar and nightclub owners around the U.S. about the promotions that brought in people and profits, and then some.
1. At Nano Brew in Cleveland, the bicycle friendly brew pub, showcases its "bike box" on the street outside the pub and a free bicycle care station inside for one of its most profitable promotions. At the care station bicycle tools are available, along with tire patch kits and bike pump, as well as a drink rail for your beer. “We also pour your first draft beer for a dollar if you bring your bike helmet to the bar,” explains Owner Sam McNulty. “All this sets a tone and sends a message that the growing cycling population in Cleveland has a home.”
2. McGillin’s Olde Ale House plays into its Philadelphia clientele’s sports fandom by serving Phillies-tinis during baseball season, the Freezing Flyer Fantini’s during hockey season and Iggle-tinis during football season. Owner Chris Mullins Jr., says the promotion is successful because ‘The Phillies-tinis and Iggle-tinis promote sales all season long. It’s great because it’s not a one-time promotion but a season-long promotion.”
3. Drop is Chicago's newest upscale bar, and to build clientele, the bar started hosting Industry Night, where members of the service industry enjoy 50% off select beverages every Sunday and Monday. “This is our way to show our respect for what we all do and provide these people with an enjoyable experience each week,” says Owner Arthur Knutson.
4. Tavern Hospitality Group in Denver partnered with the NFL team Denver Broncos for the bar’s Broncos First Possession Payoff promotion. During football season, guests at all Tavern locations would receive a card with a unique code on it. They would enter their code on the bar’s website for a chance to win up to $7,000 during a Broncos home game. After a winner was chosen, he or she got to go down on the sidelines through the first part of the game. If the Broncos scored during their first offensive possession, we would pay the winner $1,000 per point that was scored.
5. Koi Restaurant in Evanston, Illinois, holds a bi-monthly, alternating eight-course sushi tasting paired with sake at their intimate chef's table and a themed cocktail tasting. “The upside of the classes is twofold,” General Manager Dennis Sotos says. “We see repeat business as well as new people referred by the guests that attended previous tastings.”
6. Every eight weeks, Fluxx in San Diego transforms the entire club to reflect the current theme, including custom designed employee uniforms for bartenders, VIP servers, and Fluxx Girls—the club's high-profile dancers. Because each theme creates new discoveries with every visit, clients keep returning to the venue because it never looks the same and never offers the same experiences, says Sarah Fisher, director of marketing at Fluxx.
7. David Howard, GM of Bisou, a French bistro in the Manayunk neighborhood of Philadelphia, runs a full bar but has a bring your own beverage Tuesday promotion. Every Tuesday, guests can bring their own wine with no corkage fee or purchase wine from Bisou at half off. "Our guests have really appreciated our Tuesday BYOB or half our list promotion. It's value driven and helps to drive traffic early in the week,” he explains.
8. Every Thursday night, Chicago club Untitled hosts "Unbridled," which is a “fun, freaky evening of titillating variété featuring different, unusual acts,” explains Shreyas Shah, who oversees the marketing and entertainment for the club. Launching in mid-March, the event has improved Untitled’s on-average Thursday revenue and also generated a lot of buzz and publicity. “We see customers’ coming back every Thursday to experience a nightlife offering that is different and original. Because of the visual spectacle of the party, we also benefit from a huge volume of social media chatter,” Shah adds. More can be seen on their YouTube Videos.
9. Memphis Taproom in Philadelphia focuses on fun and puns to get people in the doors. The bar does an "Everything Went Black Friday,” which is all dark beers on Black Friday and a Boxing Day Beer Festival in which the staff pours all holiday and winter beer, and encourages guests to bring food and warm coat donations to the bar in exchange for a discount on beer. Leigh Maida, co-owner and operator of the bar, says the bar works hard to pull of these promotions “with a sense of professionalism and fun,” which helps make it a success.
10. Hyatt Hotels & Resorts created its “Thoughtfully Sourced. Perfectly Paired.” food-and-beverage promotion, which featured tasting flights of regional wine and beer paired with regional cheeses from 10 different regions throughout North America. “This promotion was so successful for our hotels because the regional wines and beers paired with the regional cheeses allowed it to have a very local feel, even though it was a national program,” said John O’Connell, corporate director of food and beverage at Hyatt Hotels & Resorts.