Bringing people into your bar or restaurant is only half the battle; if you want to keep customers loyal and stop them drifting away to eat and drink elsewhere, you need to work hard to rise above the competition.
Here are some tips to entertain visitors which won’t cost the Earth, but should make an impact on the number of punters you pull in from the street and keep engaged throughout the average evening.
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Add bar games to the mix
People go to bars and restaurants to drink, eat and socialize, but there’s a point at which chatting with friends loses its sheen, and groups will look for a change of scene to inject a bit more magic into the night.
The alternative is to give customers something to do together that’s eminently social and yet more varied and exciting than a conversation. This is where bar games come into play, and there are all sorts of options out there to consider including in your venue.
From the Untappd list of bar games you can consider everything from classic arcade cabinets to vintage board games and even table games like air hockey and pool.
Obviously you’ll need to match your choice of game to your budget, and also to the space you have available. It’s additionally important to consider the brand identity of your bar, and to determine whether the game you choose meshes with this, or clashes.
You might think that games aren’t ideal for restaurants, but there are choices here as well. Card games, for example, don’t need much space and are a great after-dinner distraction for diners to enjoy while sipping espressos and waiting for the bill.
Host themed evenings
Having an evening set aside each month, or on a seasonal basis, when you can cater to a specific audience and market your venue as being unique is a good strategy. As with bar games, there are a plethora of different routes to take in this regard.
One popular option is to create a couples night, where you provide the most romantic experience imaginable for lovebirds, factoring in special decorations, unique drinks for them to raise a toast with, and perhaps even musical performers to serenade your guests.
Singles nights are an appealing counterpoint to this, and it helps to have a little more structure. Offering speed dating, for example, is sure to bring people through the door, and could introduce your business to a whole new clientele in the process.
Hire a live musician to perform discreetly
We’ve all been to open mic nights and similar events at bars and restaurants where the performers tend to draw focus and can overwhelm the whole room, to the point of potentially putting off customers who are passing by, rather than drawing them in.
Likewise, having incidental music playing over a sound system isn’t all that interesting, to the point of being essentially a standard inclusion in all outlets of this kind.
You can find a middle ground between these two extremes if you recruit a local musician to provide ambiance, without disrupting the entire room with their presence.
There’s something timeless and classy about having a pianist tinkling the ivories in the corner of a cozy bar. And with a flesh and blood performer scheduled to appear at a certain time, you could generate interest in your venue during periods that are otherwise not exactly popping.
As mentioned, make sure that your in-house entertainment is suitable for the vibe of your bar or restaurant. Also be willing to change things up if the path you settle on doesn’t work out.