Author Archives: Whitney Larson

What is Humanized Data?

We’ve spent the past decade watching bars and nightclubs struggle to manage their business and communicate with their customers. It was fascinating: people transformed how they interacted with businesses and brands, but hospitality venues hadn’t yet adopted to the change. Consumers had gotten accustomed to the savviness of online businesses sending recommendations based on past habits and reminders based on timing. It’s personal. It’s experience-driven. It’s humanized. And now they’re driving that change within nightlife.

What we noticed is the gap between how venues operated and what customers expected created a void between customers and venues, and created a disconnect in business performance. But the root issue was more than just consumers adapting at a faster rate than venues could keep up with.

The root issue was data. Not just any data. Humanized data.

There’s data all over your venue. Your POS system, your guestlist, your reservations, website visitors, general admission guests, inventory, and even your staff are all data points that exist throughout your venue. The issue is none of it talks to each other, so all it ever exists as is raw data points that you may or may not even know you have access to.

When you combine all your data together, you have the possibility of seeing the complete picture. Think of it as a puzzle, where each sector of your business is one puzzle piece. When combined together, you have the complete picture. That’s comprehensive data.

The next step is to take that comprehensive data and humanize it. But what does this actually mean?

Humanized data is data that tells a story. It provides insights into which triggers increase or decrease business performance and guest experience. It’s about turning quantitative numbers into qualitative actions.

Let’s take your POS reports as a starting point. As an individual puzzle piece, you can pull reports and see what your total sales were for a given day and how many transactions made up those sales. But if you stop there, you’re only looking at one piece of the puzzle.

When you combine your POS with an ID scanner, you open the door to understanding who the guests were that made up those transactions and even who the guests were that attended but didn’t buy anything. When you sync POS and ID scan with your inventory management system and your staffing system, you begin to get comprehensive data on what combination makes a night a success, and what combination makes a night a failure.

With humanized data, you turn the raw comprehensive data points into a story. What started as 800 transactions for a total of $32,000 is now 1,000 guests from across the state — of which 66% are new and 34% are returning. Their primary age ranges are between 21-30 years old, with 26-30 being the most dense. They’re primarily male who have an average cost per transaction of $32, which was made up of 4 items. Whiskey coke rail drinks were the most popular order, particularly made with Jack Daniels. The busiest checkin time was the 11:00pm hour, more specifically at 11:45pm. But you were overstaffed from 8-11pm, causing your labor to sales ratio to ultimately hinder your profitability for the night.

Now that’s humanized data. It’s not just numbers in a spreadsheet – it’s a wholistic story of what made up a night. It’s a buyer persona to work from. It’s insight into which triggers you can pull to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.

When you have access to this level of insight, you can start asking yourself:

  • How does my gender or age demographics affect my sales?
  • At what percentage of capacity do I start losing money?
  • What types of music brings in the most bar sales?
  • Are you more profitable during special events or regular nights?
  • The best part is, when everything is synced, it’s also tracked and measured so you can try different things and see the impact it has on your business. It’s this mentality that has allowed other industries to thrive, and it’s this level of insight that will allow you to close that gap with your customers and build a powerful business.

    The 3 Things Every Bar Needs at its Core to Thrive

    Running a bar or nightclub isn’t easy. There are a lot of areas that need to work together to ensure your success. Yet, our industry still operates in silos, using different systems for different sections – oftentimes leading to missed data and opportunities. Meanwhile, online industries like Amazon have gotten so savvy they’re able to send recommendations based on past habits and send reminders based on timing. As a result, this is the level of service your guests have come to expect.


    That’s why in today’s digitally-driven environment, it’s no longer sufficient to make assumptions on how your venue is performing and who your guests are. It’s also no longer sufficient to just focus on the data from one area of your business. This may have worked in years past, but it’s an outdated practice that cold cost you your venue.

    So while we understand there are many things you need to run your venue, the following three are the core of what you need to be successful in 2019 and beyond.

    ID Scanning

    You already ID and verify each person that walks through your door. Take this a step further with license scanning technology that not only scans and verifies each person, but also collects data on each person to build your guest database. This is the best way to know exactly who came into your venue each and every night, complete with your gender breakdown, where your customers are coming from, your age breakdown, and which customers are repeat vs first-time customers. You also have access to your digital 86 list as well as a city-wide ban list to keep your venue safe. This tool acts as your guide in better decision making for a process that was already mandatory. And with a solution like Vēmos, all of this is combined with your CRM system and analytics section to truly have that understanding of your whole business.

    POS Integration

    Speaking of uncovering your true performance, having your point of sale integrated into your operations system is an extremely powerful move. Now, not only do you have the ability to track your VIP table spend automatically, but you also gain insight on your entire bar. “But I can already do that,” you say? Sort of. The reality is POS systems are not in the business of providing their customers with great analytics; they focus on providing a great user experience for your bartenders during the night. Integrating your POS system takes that data and provides you with true analytics that allow you to better understand how your entire venue did rather just a segment. It can also tie to your CRM system to give insight on personalized spending. Now, you’re able to know who contributed to your $15,000 bar sales — was it one person who spent $15k? Did everyone who walked in make a purchase? This information matter so you’re able to replicate that night with a similar set of guests.

    CRM System

    All of this comes back to individualized data. After all, the new name of the game is experience, and personalized experience at that. You can’t provide your guests with personalized experiences if you don’t know who they are. Sure, you may know your top regulars who always come in. And while they’re important, the other hundreds of guests are equally as important to your business. The only way to capture this information is to have all your data tied back to your CRM system. This is what allows you to know each of your customers on a personal level — from how often hey come, to how much they spend, to their specific preferences. You can then use this data to filter your guests into like-minded groups to send targeted messages specifically to them. Now you’re able to provide a complete circle of personalized service both online and in-person.

    These three tools are the core of what accelerates your capabilities. Having technology a part of your venue is no longer just about a reservation management system. It’s about a comprehensive appraoch that provides insight into your venue as a whole. With a combination of ID Scanning, POS integration, and a CRM system at your core, you now have the capabilities of providing that personalized service previously only available to the likes of Amazon. Safeguard your venue, target sharper, spend smarter, and create an unbelievable experience for every person walking through your door.

    4 Ways to Build Your Bar with Guest Data

    Do you know who your guests are? The ones who frequent your venue, who spend a lot of money, and who would be considered “loyal?” Many venues think they do, but few have the full picture.

    Recognizing your guests’ faces or even their names is just the start. Imagine knowing how many times they’ve been to your bar or club, how many reservations they’ve made, how much money they’ve spent at the bar, and what their most popular drink purchases are. That’s valuable information, and that’s what’s going to propel you forward. And an ID scanning system tied to your point of sale is just what’s going to get you there. Not only does this increase your security and reduce your liability, but it also acts as the driving force behind building loyalty with your guests.

    Here’s what you can uncover when you know your guests on a deeper level.

    1. Better identify guests

    I’ve been to bars that didn’t know which guests made up the biggest volume of sales. I’ve been to nightclubs where high-profile guests were stopped at the door by the bouncer and denied access, purely from the fact that the bouncer didn’t recognize that guest. This lack of understanding, communication, and identification is a threat to your venue. In the first instance, you’re losing out on increasing the average cost per transaction from that guest by not identifying the opportunity. In the second instance, not only did you not make money from that person that night, but that person is infinitely less likely to return to your venue. In an industry driven by providing great hospitality, knowing your guests is essential to maximizing your revenue.

    2. Upsell guests before they walk through your doors

    With the right 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. Notice it’s their 5th time coming in this month? Comp their first drink. Is it a regular attendee from your bar crowd? Upsell them to a VIP table right then and there, thanking them for their loyalty and letting them know you think they would enjoy their experience more this way. They’ll be more likely after this experience to continue to be a high value customer, become more loyal to your venue, and refer friends.

    3. Provide personalized service

    Your guests expect personalized service. They get it from nearly every other industry, so your business is no exception to them. When you have access to behavioral data, you uncover key insights that allow you to provide this level of personalized service your guests have come to expect — 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. 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 well after they walk through your door.

    4. Improve marketing efforts

    When you combine an ID scanning system, a CRM system, and a point of sale system, you become unstoppable with your marketing. Now you have a database of rich guest information that combines meaningful demographic information with invaluable behavioral information. Use this information to send targeted, personal and relevant messages to individual guests. You can hyper target your digital ads directly to a segment of customers with a message that speaks 100% to them. You can segment your database into specific audiences and send a text message offer just to them. You no longer have to mass blast generic promotions into the unknown. When messages are personal and specific, it increases your marketing ROI so you can continue to reinvest in the actions that build your business.

    Insights: The Powerful Weapon Behind Your Success

    There’s a lot of factors that go into a successful bar or nightclub. While there’s no one-size-fits-all model that works across the board, there is one element that has a direct impact on every business’ success: your data and your ability to pull insights from that data. Your data is the key to understanding what builds your business up, and what tears your business down. But data in and of itself is overwhelming and lacks direction. That’s where insights come in.

    Insights are the story behind your raw data points; the why behind the numbers. When you have insights, you have action. And it’s that action that continues to propel your business forward.

    The good news is it’s no longer complicated to track, compile, and understand all your data from across your venue to create your own personal insights storyboard. There are solutions built specifically for nightlife venues that automates all of this for you so you don’t have to be a data scientist to figure all this out.

    Here’s how you can use your insights to boost your results.

    1. Make your nights more predictable.

    Today’s Reality: Few venues today have an accurate idea of what each night will hold. Doors open, guests walk through, and the night happens. At the end, you pull your reports to see what performance was like. It’s an incredibly unpredictable model, which makes it hard to understand before you open how your night will translate to revenue, operating expenses, and overall profit.

    Data’s Fix: The key to measuring the success of your venue and getting it to a point of predictability is knowing exactly how you’re performing, and that means knowing your numbers. You’re likely already doing this with your end of night reports. However, they’re a reactive look at how your night went, and is often presented in spreadsheet format that you need to make sense of. Other numbers to know is your staff productivity, your product inventory and its sellable rate, and your guests’ actions throughout the night. Without data on any of these items, you’re spending every day guessing until you’re no longer able to make ends meet. But just having the raw numbers alone isn’t enough to drive longterm success.

    Insight’s Power: Longterm success comes when you understand the why behind the numbers. That’s what insights provide. They’re powerful triggers that you can leverage to build even more business. Which staff member has the highest up-selling rate? Assign them to your best VIP table or schedule them during the highest selling hours behind the bar. Does your main bar get so slammed at 11:30pm that you’re over capacity and no longer churning drinks at a rate you need to make money? Consider opening a popup bar at another location at that time to speed up your flow and increase drink orders. What can you expect in sales this Thursday based on the past four Thursdays’ results? And how does that compare to your Saturdays? These are the questions you’ll begin to have answers to, and with those answers come smarter decisions to make even more money.


    2. Shine a spotlight to decrease unnecessary costs.

    Today’s Reality: When your nights are unpredictable, you tend to get stuck in the rut of doing the same thing day in and day out. This tends to be out of habit and out of your actions superficially appearing to be working.

    Data’s Fix: Without data to back your actions, the reality is you don’t know what is and isn’t working to get guests through your door and spending money. You end up operating blind and oftentimes spend too much of your money pumping it into activities that aren’t working or causing you to lose money.

    Insight’s Power: Data allows you to get clarity on the actions you’re doing. Insights empower you to make smart decisions about the data that’s presented. For example, you see in your end of night reports (i.e. raw data) that you’re breaking even with your overhead and sales, but your overall sales seem on par with what you’d expect. When data is presented as a storyboard, you get insights on the different factors that’s causing this. Rather than comparing spreadsheets, you now clearly see that you’re staffing for far more guests than is realistic at 8pm, when you’d be better allocating those staffing needs until 11pm. Maybe you realize you’re paying your promoters a per-guest fee when the guests they bring in don’t end up spending any money once they’re inside your venue. These insights allow you to know where you’re overspending and cut costs accordingly.


    3. Improve marketing efforts.

    Today’s Reality: Speaking of knowing where you’re overspending, marketing is one of those places you’re likely throwing money in the wrong places. You have a general idea of which channels to market on – social media, in-venue specials, text messages. But you’re not sure which actions are actually driving people through the door while simultaneously earning you more spending per guest.

    Data’s Fix: Marketing is incredibly measurable now, especially with digital at the forefront. When you track your marketing efforts, you’re able to see exactly what drives traffic and results. So while a third-party website may claim to have garnered you 100,000 impressions, you know that it actually only got you 3 clicks and $0 in return. Now you know not to spend money there in the future and redistribute those dollars toward activities you know work for you.

    Insight’s Power: With insights, you can take your marketing to the next level and distribute personalized, habit-based promotions to each individual. Think in the likes of Amazon and Starbucks, each of which send individual consumers messages that are based on their buying habits. Notice that a guest typically drinks a rum and Coke rail drink? Send them an offer to try a rum-based signature cocktail you think they’d like. Notice a guest hasn’t attended your venue in several weeks? Reach out to them to get them back in. Notice it’s a guest’s 10th visit this month? Give them a reward or upgrade them for their loyalty.


    When all of your data is combined into one system and works together to tell your personal story, you get to see insights on how your guest’s habits affect your sales, inventory and staffing needs. This story (also known as your insights) is what empowers you to make data-driven decisions that boosts your business even more.

    Serving a Minor: Who’s at Risk and What’s at Stake?

    Serving a minor is a costly mistake — one that can shut down your business entirely. After spending months of time and thousands of dollars to obtain your liquor license, why risk it all at the hands of busy stressed staff? Without the right tools and processes in place, this is exactly what you’re doing every night, even with the best of intentions.

    Who is legally responsible?

    It is illegal to knowingly serve alcohol to a minor, and anyone who does can be held responsible for any injuries or damages that result from the minor’s impaired state. But it’s not always black and white in pinpointing the exact person who is responsible. There are several factors that go into determining the exact person, which is oftentimes the reason why separate penalties are given to the person who holds the liquor license (the owner of a bar) and the person who makes the sale (the bartender who serves a minor). Depending on the severity of the situation and state laws, the penalties can range from a fine, to jail time, to a temporary suspension of the liquor license, to the liquor license being completely revoked.

    What if someone else checked the ID?

    The seller is the one liable for serving the minor. As a bartender or server, you are responsible for checking the ID of your customers even if another person has previously checked it. That’s why it’s particularly important for a validating process to be instilled within venues that have a person checking IDs prior to going to the bar.

    What if a minor uses a fake?

    When a minor is served, you need to show that you did the steps to the best of your ability to not purposefully serve that person. That means in most cases, you’re only liable for selling to a minor if you didn’t ask for identification or if you looked but didn’t use your best abilities to detect the minor. If the guest presents a realistic ID that says he or she is of drinking age, no charges will be filed against the establishment. However, if it’s obvious that the ID is fake or if that ID clearly does not belong to the person presenting it, then the establishment and the person who served that minor becomes liable.

    What if it’s a planned sting?

    When authorities are checking to make sure you’re compliant, they legally cannot do so by using a fake ID or purposefully deceiving you. They’re typically checking to make sure you’re properly asking for identification. Most sting fails are a result of not asking for identification, or asking for identification but incorrectly calculating someone’s age based on their date of birth. When these human errors happen, you’ll fail the sting and both the server and the establishment will be presented with the ramifications.

    How to mitigate the risks?

    Between human errors, miscommunication, inattention to detail, and simply not checking an ID, there’s a myriad of factors that can put you at risk for being liable in serving a minor. The first place to start is having a policy in place that requires your staff to check IDs of anyone who enters your venue. The second step is to go further by equipping your staff with an ID scanning system.


    Having an ID scanning system essentially acts as an insurance policy that guarantees you’ll be covered when a minor is accidentally served. The system will reduce the chances of honest human errors, such as incorrectly calculating someone’s age based on the date of birth. It’ll confirm all IDs are reviewed in the case of planned stings. It’ll act as your paper trail to prove you didn’t purposefully serve a guest who presented a realistic fake ID. And it can act as your digital 86 list or even your digital loyalty program. It’s one of the most cost effective and worthwhile investments you can make to protect yourself from losing the license you worked so hard to obtain while growing the business you worked tirelessly to build.

    Top