The goal of launching Guesthouse Dayclub at Stingaree in San Diego was to drive traffic to the club on Sundays — a simple enough idea that ran into obstacles right away.
“One of the challenges we ran into is people like to watch football on Sundays,” explains Shane Brennan, managing partner of the San Diego-based club. Sunday is not a club day, especially in the fall. People want to drink beers at local bars and watch football games. Instead of ending the promotion, Brennan rethought the execution. Instead of doing it every Sunday, “we do it once a month,” he says. The club has more time to promote it ensuring that more people are excited about it.
Planning promotions require trial and error, Brennan says, but even a blunder can turn into success, as long as an owner has a good concept, savvy business partners and is willing to give the promotion room to grow.
Being open for almost a decade, Stingaree has been the testing ground for all types of promotions. It takes about a month to see if a promotion will be successful, Brennan says. For a once-a-week promotion like Guesthouse Dayclub, it takes approximately four different nights to “get the promotion going.” When something isn’t working, those “aren’t really mistakes,” Brennan says. Instead, he and his team say it’s about collecting information and learning from it.
Promotion planning takes a lot of time and research, so owners shouldn’t bail on an idea if it doesn’t work right away. Brennan says the planning, conceptualizing and launching of a promotion all take time, and some promotions may need to be altered throughout the implementation process. There’s nothing wrong with changing a concept that isn’t working, he adds.
The first step in the promotion process for big nightclubs is aligning with smart promoters. “We’re looking for a company that is established and has made a good, positive, fun brand for themselves,” Brennan says. “And we’re looking for promotion companies that will help us bring in people and table revenues.”
After the promotion company is in place, it comes down to talent. Brennan says finding and booking a good DJ is crucial. Because DJs perform throughout the night, Stingaree has to choose DJs that the club’s target demographic wants to see.
If there is good synergy among the different components, then everyone will promote on all cylinders.
When executing the promotion, Brennan says that tweaking the concept throughout its first few days or weeks is common practice and often beneficial. Not all promotions attract audiences right away and it “can take a little while to reach an audience,” he says. “Sometimes people get scared if the promotion doesn’t work the first week or the first month.”
Club owners may get skiddish and look at everything wrong with the promotion. But that’s the wrong approach, Brennan advises. “The promotion needs a little time to mature and work itself out. People jump the gun and give up too soon.”