Author Archives: Whitney Larson

The Biggest Opportunity You’re Missing

It’s a story that’s too often told, but it’s arguably the most important story there is. Because it often becomes the difference between life and death of a nightlife venue.

This past weekend, I was invited to a product launch party that was hosted at a third-party cider venue. The place was packed. I’m talking bursting at the seams packed. And they only had 2 bartenders working.

It took over 30 minutes to get our first round of drinks, so I just paid for everyone in my group to ease the burdens of the bartender needing to do multiple transactions. Then it took another 25 minutes to get our second round. At this point, we’ve spent nearly an hour of our time just waiting to get a drink, so we left to go drink somewhere else. We supported the launch like we wanted to, but staying here wasn’t worth our time anymore.

The largest e-commerce retailers spend millions of dollars a year to understand their customers. The nightlife industry has yet to change its mindset that it’s beneficial to have the same solutions that thriving e-commerce companies use, which is available to them at a monthly price that’s less than my one tab. Why are we so stuck in our old ways?

Aside from the issue of being grossly understaffed, there’s a bigger issue at hand for the venue: they have no data to improve. Think about it, the largest e-commerce retailers spend millions of dollars a year to understand their customers’ habits so well that they’re predicting what they’re going to buy next. Amazon alone spent nearly $19 billion in 2019 on their marketing efforts and they achieved 20% net revenue growth.

But we as a nightlife industry have yet to change our mindset that it’s beneficial to have solutions that e-commerce has to experience that level of growth. At the end of the night, this venue is going to look at their POS reports and use it as a guide for how they performed that day, and it’ll tell them a very inaccurate story. They have no idea how many people were inside their venue, which is a huge issue. Here’s why:

  • I paid for all of my friends’ drinks. Their POS has no idea that my friends even existed. It’ll show them the number of transactions that were made, but it won’t show them the number of people that were there.


  • If they knew how many guests were there, they’d know the average amount each guest spent, often known as average cost per transaction (CPT). My tab was $160 total on two rounds of drinks for my group of 10. Their POS is just going to show 1 transaction for $160. But in reality, the average CPT is $8. That’s a huge difference between a CPT of $160 and a CPT of $8. They’re going to operate their business believing every guest spends $160, when in reality, the average spend across all guests is $8.


  • While their labor to sales ratio may look favorable, they would have likely made thousands more dollars if they would have been staffed adequately. A couple extra bartenders would have reduced the wait time for people getting drinks, resulting in more drinks in people’s hands, resulting in more money. But because they don’t know how many people there were, they’re bound to make the same staffing decision for a future launch party looking at incomplete POS reports to guide their decision.

But why does this matter?

It matters because this is the type of information that needs to guide decisions to continue to grow and build their business. And because this was a launch party for a different company, I’d estimate 80% of the people that were there had never been to that venue before. And statistics say that 70% are unlikely to come back on their own. Now add in the terrible experience of waiting an hour to get drinks, and that percentage likely increases.

But what’s worse is because they weren’t tracking who came, they have no log of who was there to be able to reach these people again. Do you think Amazon grew to be an $87 billion company by not knowing who’s on their site and not understanding what drives their sales?

I’ve spent over a decade working alongside venue owners and I know firsthand that many are putting their life savings into their venue. I know they want it to succeed. They aren’t looking to throw all their money into a business that’s going to die in the average 18-month timespan. But I also know that most aren’t thinking about how to grow year after year. They tell me they’re “surviving.” They run without insight, hoping people walk through their doors when they open. They aren’t investing in systems that allow them to experience continuous growth.

The Missed Opportunity

Had this venue been using the Vemos ID scanner at the door, they would have had the exact number of people that attended their venue that day. They also would have the names, gender, age, and geographic location of all of those attendees in their dashboard. And had they connected their POS to their Vemos dashboard, they would have the exact CPT readily displayed to them. They’d know which guests made the transaction and what they purchased. They’d be able to define the type of customers that have the biggest impact on their bottom line, and have a strategy to go out and attract more of those types of customers. They’d know who was a new vs. returning guest, and would have been able to get some of those new guests back in the door.

This system is what allows a nightlife venue to operate within an e-commerce model at a monthly cost that’s less than my tab. It’s not hard. It’s not expensive. But it can make the difference between surviving and thriving.

How Community-Based ID Scanning Can Provide Safety

As a Minneapolis-based business in the nightlife industry, it’s hard to see a dominant player in the Minneapolis nightlife scene be struck with the terror of an active shooter inside their venue. It’s the third incident of a shooting inside a Minneapolis venue since we first started talking about this back in 2018. In the days since this incident, we’ve been spending our time thinking about those involved — the victims, the staff, the owners, the guests — which has refueled the fire inside of us to do our part to help keep nightlife venues across the country a fun, safe place for everyone to be.

It’s a mission that’s driven us from the beginning. We believe the best security is being able to stop an incident before it happens. That community-wide communication and collaboration makes an area stronger. That with more data comes more knowledge. And that knowledge is what drives not only one business, but an entire community forward.

Usually data is used for positive proactive reasons — to collect insight on what drives a business, to get a deeper understanding on valuable customer habits, and to bridge the gap between a venue and its consumer to drive loyalty and experience.

But data can also be used when the unexpected happens. When information from IDs is tracked, logged and timestamped, it’s able to act as the puzzle piece to help authorities track down the suspect of a crime. It empowers a venue to place a restriction on that person so they’re not allowed back inside. It alerts other venues in the community that the person was banned fo a specific reason should that person try to go into their establishment. It’s this type of network effect that helps band a community together for the greater good of public safety.

Data and ID Scanning, of course, is not the only answer; but it is a step toward being able to take an action in the wake of an incident. There’s still work that needs to be done to continue to build safe environments for all. We stand behind our industry peers in Minneapolis and across the nation. We believe in the longevity of the nightlife industry and will continue to push ourselves to build tools and systems that help our customers. And we’ll continue to pursue partnerships with the police and city officials to build a network of information that works to keep venues, staff, and their patrons safe.

Finally. A venue management app that’s both powerful and simple.

We at Vēmos are excited to unveil our latest Venue Management app — a project that’s been in the works for months with a critical focus on user experience.

We knew the nightlife industry needed a solution that was robust enough to manage an entire venue from one app, but simple enough that venues didn’t need to worry about more training, all at a price point that made sense. So we set out to achieve this.

And now that product is available.

Introducing the first truly comprehensive solution to manage your entire venue, starting at just $50/month. Reservation management? Check. Guestlist management? Check. Events & Ticketing. Check & check. You can even collect walk-up cover charges at the door with cash, credit, Apple Pay or Google Pay. And yes, you can do all of this by simply toggling between Reservations, Guestlist and General Admission screens to accommodate every guest.


We truly built this with the user in mind. Simplicity on the surface to get up and running as quickly as possible. Complexity behind the scenes so you’re presented with information when you need it most.


Let’s take a deeper look.

VIP Reservation Management

Easily manage all your tables in one view, allow staff to sell available tables, and even take table deposits to reduce no-shows. See full guest details to provide a personalized experience as soon as they arrive. Track table spend and party size so you can make smarter decisions in the future about what type of VIP guests have the biggest impact on your business.


Guestlist Management

Never flip through another piece of paper again. Your guestlist is now digital and always up-to-date. Whether guests are added from promoters, ticket sales, your website, or staff, it all funnels instantly to one place, making check-in a breeze. Plus, all checkins tie back to guest profiles, so you always know what types of guests to attract to keep your nights busy.


Cover Charge Management

Like a POS for your door, the Vēmos GA screen gives you true accountability at your door. Add as many entrance types (aka cover price based on promotions) as you want. All users are automatically added as referrers. Now you can collect cover payment from every walk-up guest, know who’s getting in for free or at a discount, and track which promoters are bringing them in for easy payouts.


Events & Ticketing

Create, manage, and sell tickets to your events, and get paid from your sales as soon as a ticket is purchased. All pre-sale tickets will automatically appear in your guestlist with ticket details displayed. Easily handle walkup sales with Cover Charge Mangement, so all tickets are accounted for no matter when they were purchased. Uncover what marketing efforts reach the best guests, which ticket types drive the highest bar sales, and when you can expect to sell out based on historic trends.


Guest Profiles

All your guest details in your pocket. See each guest’s unique profile from their last visit to what they’ve spent at your venue. Read notes from your staff, and see how to connect with them all at your fingertips. Have a recurring guestlist guest that spends a lot at the bar? Upgrade them to a VIP table next time and make their next experience unforgettable.


Insight Only Vēmos Can Give You

Other systems only track your VIP guests. With Vēmos, you get rich insight on all your guests so you can make smart decisions that drive profitability. Connect ID Scan with your POS to track individual guest spend, and unlock even deeper insights about every guest that walks through your door so you can continue to maximize your revenue.

How ID Scanning Increases Loyalty

Checking IDs is commonly considered a necessary evil of serving alcohol.

It’s not sexy. It’s not exciting. It’s just a step in the process. But this step can actually be turned into a huge asset to your bar or nightclub, especially with the right technology.

When you shift your thinking and equip yourself with the right tools, this very basic step becomes both your internal liability program as well as your external customer loyalty program.


The Legal Aspect

The liability and security side of checking IDs is always the most top-of-mind, particularly when it comes to verifying whether a guest is of age to drink. And from that aspect alone, having your staff manually review IDs is sufficient. But your liability decreases drastically when you equip that staff member with an ID scanning system. Here’s why:

  • It reduces the chances of honest human errors. Humans make mistakes even with the best intentions, such as incorrectly calculating someone’s age based on their date of birth. Having a quick license scan double verifies the guest’s age with a simple color coded alert of whether they’re over 21 or under 21. It makes it foolproof even under high stress situations.
  • It assists with easily passing stings. When authorities are checking to make sure you’re compliant, they legally cannot do so by using a fake ID or purposefully deceiving you. That means most stings are a result of incorrect math or laziness. Having a policy with an ID scan system corrects any mental mistakes and confirms all IDs are reviewed.
  • It aids in detecting fakes. Fake IDs are getting more complex, so having an ID scan system is just one more layer in the process of detecting a fake. Plus, in a worse-case scenario when you accidentally serve a minor, having a digital system is your paper trail to prove to authorities you didn’t purposefully serve that person and did the best of your ability to be compliant.
  • It digitally tracks your 86 list. Your seasoned staff may know immediately if a guest is banned and shouldn’t be let in, but your new employees likely won’t. Rather than memorizing a photo book of those who aren’t allowed, an ID scan system will automatically alert your employee if a guest is banned from the venue. Plus, if an incident occurs during the night, your staff can easily add that guest to your ban list so you always have the most up-to-date information to maintain a safe environment.
  • It alerts you of potentially unruly patrons. Some ID scan systems, like us at Vēmos, allows you to opt into a city-wide ban list. This means you’ll be alerted if a guest is banned at a nearby location along with the reason they were banned. You then use this information to make educated decisions on whether or not you want to let that guest into your venue.


  • Maintaining a secure environment minimizes costs associated with insurance, repairs, fines, and enforcement. What’s more is it provides an enjoyable atmosphere for your guests, which translates to a more profitable establishment. Which leads to the next aspect: loyalty.


    The Loyalty Aspect

    The not-so-obvious side of an ID scanning system is that it can become your loyalty program. And it can serve you better than most standalone loyalty programs can. Why? Because every guest needs to have their ID to drink. Not every guest is going to have your loyalty card or app. In fact, few consumers today want to have a separate loyalty card for every establishment they ever visit, so you’ll only capture a small percentage of your daily patrons.


    With an ID scanning system, you’re able to collect data on all of your guests. This goes well beyond their name, age and other demographic information. We’re talking behavioral data — how often that guests comes, what time of day they check in, how many visits they’ve had this month, what types of events or promotions drive them there, the list goes on. And when you connect your ID scanning system to your point of sale system, you unlock a whole new layer of behavioral information. Not to mention you get a ton of invaluable insights on what factors drives your business and which triggers to pull to repeat that business.


    It’s with this information that you’re able to reward your guests for doing what they’re already doing — simply showing up — and begin to offer them personalized service based on their habits. Notice it’s their 5th time coming in this month? Comp their first drink. Haven’t seen them in a while? Reach out to them about a special you think they’d enjoy. It’s these types of actions that build connections between consumers and brands, and drive true loyalty to your establishment.



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    4 Reasons to Have a Digital Guestlist

    Pen and paper is one of the biggest cause for mistakes in our industry. I’ve seen venues not let in high profile guests who would have spent thousands inside the door all because one person didn’t know who they were. I’ve seen guest list lines get bottlenecked as the host sifts through pages to try to find the name that was written down. I’ve also seen people who were told they were on the list get turned away because they weren’t added before the list got printed.

    None of these things should happen anymore, and it’s costing your venue thousands of dollars as a result.

    That’s why it’s time to retire the old pen & paper guest list and upgrade to a digital system that’ll bring in even more revenue opportunities. Here are 4 main benefits from a digital guest list.

    1. Increase Efficiency 

    You’re able to streamline your guest list line when you have a digital, centralized list. Plus, it’s a lot easier for your staff to handle. All they have to do is either scan the guests’ QR code or search for their name, mark them as arrived, and then they’re on to the next guest. No more sifting through pages of paper. Now guests are inside and spending more money at the bar to drive up your bar sales.

    2. Collect Guest Information

    With pen and paper, it was next to impossible to collect and track your guest list information. Even if you kept that piece of paper, did you ever look back at it to understand the data? Now you’re able to with ease. A digital system keeps track of your guest list status automatically so you don’t have to cross-reference your list at the end of the night. Plus, you’ll know exactly how many people checked in and which promoter, staff member, or marketing campaign brought them in the first place.

    3. Understand Guest Habits

    Most guest lists do the mere task of checking people in. The best ones are those that sync with other areas of your venue to present wholistic, individual guest data. This then allows you to better understand who your guests are from a demographic level, but also what their habits and preferences are. What types of beverages do they order? How much do they spend once inside your venue? Do they only come on big event nights; Friday nights; every weekend night? These answers help you to give each guest a more personal experience, allows you to better market to them to keep them coming back, and even gives you the power to upsell them once they arrive. This is the type of activity that grows your club’s revenue while improving their experience — a win-win for all.

    4. Get Staff on Same Page

    With a digital system, each staff member can have their own login and add guests as they come in. These guests appear on your list in real-time, so there’s never that awkward moment of someone thinking they were on when they never got added. Plus, this removes the need for staff to email or text in their list to make sure their guests get added — they have the ability of doing it themselves and knowing that their guests got on. It’s smoother and has less room for error.


    Pen and paper can’t provide anything to you other than simply crossing off names when guests arrive. Retire paper guest lists, move over to a digital guest list, and see the benefits it has on your club’s performance.

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