“Why just be happy for an hour?”
Michael Galatte is Director of Marketing for Ellis Island Casino and Village Pub in Las Vegas. He has worked diligently to create successful happy hour and late-night programs. After pursuing happy hour and late-night dollars for several years, he’s learned quite a few things about developing promotions that work.
There are, when it’s broken down, two basic motivators for bars to offer happy hour and late-night specials. Some people offer these specials out of fear. Simply put, they don’t know how to attract more business to their venues. As a contrast, some bars have so much business that they use specials as a form of reward for their loyal customers.
“What’s in it for your customers is also what’s in it for you guys. What your guests get comes back to you,” says Michael, “You’re gonna get repeat business, they’re gonna bring their friends and family and we all know how social media works nowadays.”
What your guests get out of happy hour and late-night specials is value, convenience (location), a sense of belonging, quality and, if run correctly, options. The latter is a critical element: if a happy hour or late-night menu only offers 1 or 2 items you can be certain that your guests will turn to your competitors. What you get out of these specials is increased sales, increases visits, increased brand awareness and the ability to experiment with new products. At the end of the day, what you get out of successful specials programs is revenue.
“Think about why you’re doing a happy hour and how it’s going to increase your business, because at the end of the day that’s all that we’re here for: we want more business,” Michael says, “More business, more money.”
Michael also offers some advice concerning specials and menus. Proven specials are, of course, discounts on food and drinks, buy one get one promotions and the discounting of high margin items. However, this is also an opportunity for liquor companies to introduce new products into the market. Those same liquor companies can help you with your menu. Use table tents, placemats and signs and offer to let liquor companies brand them with their logos. In most cases, this will mean those companies will print table tents, placemats and signs at no cost to you. Also, keep your happy hour and late-night special menus simple and encourage your staff to both sell and upsell them for you.
In terms of marketing materials, always use those that are specific to your business. If you’re located in the business district downtown in a bustling city, a college theme likely won’t do well in your bar. If you’re a sports bar, focus on sports themes. Sunday and Monday night football can be huge happy hour moneymakers in the right bar. Michael increased sales from just over $15,000 in 2011 to almost $45,000 by 2013 offering happy hour specials on Sundays and Mondays during football season.
Want more insight on late night and happy hour promotions? Make sure to save the date for the 2016 Nightclub & Bar Show, March 7 – 9 in Las Vegas. The conference program will be offering up unique promotions to bring in those extra dollars.