Category Archives: Data

Use Insights to Boost Profitability

Can you confidently say your night is going to be profitable? Do you know how you’re trending this month based on results last month? Is your average cost per transaction lower than normal? These are valuable answers to know, yet most venues don’t have the resources necessary to uncover them. What’s even more frustrating is all of this information is right at your fingertips. Fortunately, there are solutions built for the nightlife industry that help you get a hold of your business to make you even more profitable. Here’s how you can do just that.

1. Become Interconnected

Running off pen & paper isn’t helping your venue in the long-run. Having different systems for different sections of your venue isn’t helping either. The way you truly understand how your venue is performing is by being interconnected across all areas of your venue. Think about the different solutions you use in your venue. There are point of sale systems, reservation management software, event & ticketing software, employee scheduling programs, customer relationship management systems…the list goes on. But unless these technologies are programmed to connect to each other, the data and processes will ultimately be useless. Why bother with 5 different technologies if it’s going to add 5 different processes? That’s wasted time with duplicated effort, wasted time with manual data entry, and lost data between the systems.

The key ingredient to a successful platform is one that’s integrated into all areas so you can be fully interconnected. Look for a comprehensive venue management platform, like us at Vēmos, that automatically has integration functionality built within it. This is what allows you to manage, understand, and grow your business from a single dashboard.

2. Use Data to Become Predictable

Once everything is connected in the right system, you have access to all your data in one place. This means you’ll be able to predict how your night is going to go based on historical data. Do you consistently get slammed around the same time? Staff accordingly. What issues have you experienced in the past? Fix those issues with processes. How many people have signed up for your guest list, made a reservation, or indicated they may be a general admission walk-up? What were the results of past nights similar to this one? This all helps you predict what your night is going to be like. Pre-selling inventory is another great way to make your nights predictable. It also helps you to understand how far in advance people tend to pre-purchase and whether you’re on target to hit your numbers.

3. Decrease unnecessary costs

Just as your past data helps you understand if you need to boost staff and processes, it also tells you when to decrease unnecessary costs. Do you need to have as many servers as you do working at 8 pm when you consistently don’t get busy until 11? Do you need to pay your promoters a per-guest fee when the guests they bring in don’t end up spending anything once inside your venue? Know where you’re over spending and cut costs accordingly so that the money you are spending is going toward better ways to increase your profitability.

4. Turn Marketing into an Investment

Speaking of knowing where you’re over spending, marketing is one of those places you’re likely throwing money in the wrong places. But 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. Having a system that tracks it all allows you to easily see what you get in return of what you put in. This not only saves you from wasting your dollars, but helps to bring in more money than before, turning your marketing from an expense and into an investment.

5. See it All Come Together

When you use one system to track all areas, you have a clear understanding of exactly what’s happening in your venue without having to log into multiple data systems. Now, you can easily track:

  • How much money you made over a given time period
  • How many customers walked through your door over a given time period (and who they were)
  • How many table reservations you booked, and how much you earn on average
  • When your customers start buying tickets to your event. or start arriving to your venue
  • Which staff members are bringing in the most guests (and biggest spenders)
  • Which marketing channels are and aren’t working for you

You can experience a huge uptick to your bottom line after switching to a system backed by data. That’s because you know exactly what’s working and what doesn’t, which allows you to spend their money more wisely. You also improve your operations to get your guests in the door faster to get to the bar more quickly, resulting in increased bar sales. When you have absolute clarity on your venue’s performance, you can do even more to increase your success. Without data, you’re simply just guessing and could be leaving a lot of money on the table.

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Produce Big Results with a Small Budget

I get it: it’s hard to set aside your hard-earned money for marketing efforts. It seems like you’re blowing those dollars away and not knowing what you’e getting in return. And oftentimes, that’s exactly what happens. You put out messages and promotions as a necessary evil; just something you have to do to gain awareness. But do you know the impact those actions have on your business? If the answer is no, then it’s time to make some changes to see your marketing as an investment, and not an expense.

I believe that any marketing initiative – no matter the budget – has the opportunity to see big results. I’ve seen this to be true throughout my career in working with large corporations with infinite budgets, startups with no budget, non-profits with limited budgets, and nightlife venues with budgets across that spectrum. And through it all, I’ve come to believe two truths:

  • 1) Data is the engine behind a successful marketing initiative
  • 2) The best story wins

  • Yet, I rarely see these two truths in action in our industry.

    I see the same thing time and again — venues blasting out messages that aren’t enticing, aren’t actionable, aren’t geared toward a specific audience, and are nearly impossible to track. With this approach, there’s no way to connect the dots between what you’re pushing out there, how it engages your audience (the best story wins) and how it affects your business (data is your engine).

    So how do you become savvy and flip your marketing from an expense to an investment?
    You take a step back and look at the big picture.

    The Big Picture
    This step is especially important when working with a small budget. Every action matters if we have limited cash to put toward marketing. Most of us narrow down the concept of marketing into promotions, or more specifically, communication/advertising. When in reality, that’s only a subset of marketing. Marketing as a whole is comprised of four parts: product, price, place, and promotion.

    If you send out promotions that aren’t backed by the rest of the marketing mix, they aren’t going to result in anything meaningful. It might work sometimes, but you’re unable to see how it works and what effect it truly has. When all of your marketing works together, you’re able to make your campaigns as effective as possible. And once you have the big picture nailed down, you’re able to go a step further and tie your marketing into your overall business objectives.

    With this in mind, it’s time to start your marketing efforts from the top-down. It’s with this strategy that we start to see big results emerge from campaigns, even with the smallest of budgets.

    1. Identify your business objective with a tangible goal
    The first step is to figure out what you want to achieve as a business. Marketing that isn’t backed by business objectives is almost always seen as a waste. More often than not, venues conduct marketing so that they can increase their revenue. That’s a solid business objective, and there’s many others out there. The important part is to identify what you want out of your business.

    Once you have your objective, you then need to understand at what level it would be deemed a success. So you need a goal to tie along with your objective, which means a quantifiable number that can be measured within a given time range. For example, if increased revenue is your objective, then a goal may be to drive up total revenue by 10% within six months.

    2. Uncover your data to help you find the right marketing mix
    Now that you have your goal ironed out and tied to your business objective, how do you make sure your efforts affect it? You need to understand what your starting point is. When you don’t have great insight into what factors make up your revenue, it’s hard to define what products to promote at what price point using which messages on which channels. This just puts you back in the bucket of doing blind marketing and hoping it does something.

    But how do you uncover your data? You put the right tools in place so you can collect it and gain insights. The best way I’ve seen this done is to connect your point of sale system with an ID scanning system to uncover not only what your sales are and your product mix, but to also identify who it is that’s making up those sales. It gives you a more accurate look at your cost per person, average cost per transaction, and the demographic that’s behind it all. And when it’s all tied back to one central system, you’re able to humanize this data so that it becomes a buyer persona to work with. Companies like Vēmos automate this process for you, and provide insight into what your data points are telling you. This helps you identify what triggers to pull to affect your objective.

    3. Define marketing strategies to reach your goal
    You have your objective tied to a goal, you have data that drives insights. Now it’s time to put marketing into action. Now’s the most important time to remember the entire marketing mix and ways you can use all of it to drive results.

    Sticking with the revenue objective, we often think the solution is to get more bodies in the room. But what happens when you have nights that you’re at capacity, and more people isn’t a realistic solution? That’s where other areas of the marketing mix come into play. Now it’s about getting the same people to spend more money than they already are, getting different people who will spend more money, or increasing other nights that are slower.

    Looking at the entire marketing mix, you could get the same people to spend more money by slightly increasing your drink prices. Remember, price is a fourth of the marketing mix, and is one you could easily dabble in. If you discover that the majority of people order rail drinks, you could increase your price by $.50. What would this do for you? Let’s say you have 10,000 guests who order 1 rail drink. If you increase the price by $.50, you now make $5,000 more, just on that action alone. What if all 10,000 guests got upsold to a signature cocktail or a better brand that’s $2 more? Now you’ve made $20,000 more with that action.

    This is just one example using one section of the marketing mix. You can create a Facebook ad that targets the specific demographic you’d rather have attending your venue. You could identify a need in your market for a standing Tuesday event, and create promotions around it to increase a slower night. There are many different ways to go about achieving your objective. I always suggest starting small so you can try a few different things to see what works and what doesn’t before putting a ton of money behind it. Think of it as operating in a lab; always benchmarking your efforts against your goals and iterating over time.

    4. Track your efforts and stay agile
    How do you know your marketing strategies are working? You track every action every step of the way. Use systems at your door to account for each guest that walks through. Use lead generation tools on your website – like a guestlist, reservation form, or pre-sale ticket – to collect guest information ahead of time. Look at your dashboard to see how all your datapoints interact together and what story it’s telling you.

    Remember, data is the engine behind a successful marketing campaign. Is a certain initiative not working for you? Stop doing it. Is something making a drastic difference? Fuel it by putting more money behind it. Measurement and agility are the two most important factors in ensuring continuous success with your efforts. Without data, you’re simply guessing and wasting all the energy you spent in the first three steps.

    Want to put some of these tips into practice? Contact us to get a free demo.

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    The 3 Things Your Bar or Nightclub Needs in 2018

    Here we are already in 2018, which means it’s prime time to reflect on the past year and gear up for an even better new year. This could be daunting, time-consuming, and overwhelming, which is why we want to take a step back and make things simple by focusing on one theme: knowledge.

    We believe every bar and nightclub should have the knowledge of who their guests are, how they got there, what they’re doing, and how they’re affecting your business. That’s why in 2018, we’re putting our focus on gathering as much information from as many places as possible and presenting it in one concrete area. We want to do the complicated part so you have simplistic knowledge. We’re doing that by ensuring our customers have their three core data hubs set up:

      1. ID Scanning to get knowledge from the first point of entry
      2. POS Integration to gather knowledge on what’s happening inside
      3. CRM System to make that knowledge actionable and profitable

    We understand there are many things you need to run your venue, but these three are the core of what you need to have the knowledge to be successful in 2018. Here’s how.

    1. 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 only way to know 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 – ID Scan, all of this is combined with your CRM system and analytics section to truly have that understanding of your whole business.

    2. 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 than just a segment. It can also tie to your CRM system to give insight on personalized spending. With Vēmos, all of this data is automatically collated to show you where you won and where you missed.

    3. 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 they 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 you with the knowledge of your venue as a whole. With 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.

    Navigating the Personalization Shift

    Your customers have 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. And now they’re driving that change within nightlife. They expect personalized service, and are making decisions on where to go because of it.

    Now it’s your turn to navigate this shift and provide the personalized experience they have come to expect. But how do you do it? The best thing you can do is find a system that encompasses all areas of your operations into one dashboard. This is what allows you to see transparent data across sections as well as get deep insight on all your guests. When you use separate tools for each area (ex: one system for reservations, another for tickets, another for gueslist, etc), you’re only getting a chunk of the picture. Data lives separately and you only see information on some of your guests, not all of them. And that makes all the difference when keeping up with this personalization shift.

    Here are a few core tools you’ll need to set yourself up for success, followed by recommendations on how to get your staff to execute.

    1. Guest Database

    A survey conducted by Accenture discovered that 85% of their participants are willing to provide their information to trusted retailers in exchange for targeted, personalized information. Use this to your advantage. Your customers are not only willing to give their information to you, but they’re conditioned to do so. This is especially true when pre-purchasing items online. There are systems specifically for the nightlife industry that are built with your guest database at the core. Now, you can use guest list, ticketing, or reservation forms on your site so your guests not only begin to buy in advance (note: more guaranteed revenue), but also so that you can collect their information and have it sync back to their profile in your database.

    You can also capture this information during your night at your door using a digital ID Scanning system. That way, you’re able to safeguard your venue by having a tool to help check IDs as well as collect data on every customer that walks through your doors. And when you connect this to your point of sale system, you’re able to unearth even more valuable information. This means you have a database of all your guests, including their name, contact info, how many times they’ve been to your venue, whether they’re a VIP/guest list/event/general admission customer, how much money they’ve spent, and what their most popular drink purchases are.

    2. Segmented Marketing

    With your database, you now have a complete buyer persona for all your target customer segments, including demographic, geographic, and psychographic information. This means you have the opportunity to get personal with your marketing. You can send a specific message catered to a specific group of people, such as sending a birthday text message to anyone celebrating a birthday this week and inviting them to celebrate with you. Or you can target customers who have attended a certain event in the past, and send them an exclusive invitation to an upcoming similar event before tickets are released to the public. Making your customers feel like you know what’s happening in their life, or like you understand their interests, is what makes your messages personal and powerful. They’ll feel like insiders and will naturally establish a deeper connecting with your venue. This also helps to make sure the time and money you’re spending on your marketing is spent wisely and giving you a return on investment.

    3. Staff Execution

    Your personalization shouldn’t stop at marketing. You can and should keep this experience going the second your customer gets to your door. That’s where staff execution comes into play. Remember, technology is a tool to help your staff raise the level of their service; it doesn’t replace your staff’s efforts. Make sure you train your staff on your system so everyone is using it correctly and know what cues to use to raise their level of personalization. Greet your guests by name when they arrive. If you see that a customer is a regular general admission customer who comes to your venue every week, upsell them to a VIP table and provide a complimentary bottle of champagne as a thank you. Or, offer them their first round of their favorite drink on the house at the bar. This costs you very little, but means a lot to them. It’s a simple gesture that’s perceived by the guest as a premium, highly personalized level of service. It shows that person how much they are valued and entices them to stay longer, spend more, bring more friends, and come back more often.

    Treating guests like the individuals they are and catering your experience to their needs isn’t hard. All it takes is a system that captures all your information in one place, your staff to use that system so it automatically pulls necessary information on the guests walking through your door, and your ability to execute on providing that exclusive experience. It’s the little things that make the biggest difference to your guests and brings the biggest dollar to you.With all of this at play, you’re able to spend smarter, target sharper, and create an unbelievable experience for every person walking through your door.

    Track Your Marketing Investment

    I get it: it’s hard to set aside your hard-earned money for marketing efforts. It seems like you’re blowing those dollars away and not knowing what you’re getting in return. But that’s the issue in and of itself; your marketing is seen as an expense instead of an investment.

    Marketing used to be about blasting mass messages on channels that were expensive and nearly impossible to track. And in that case, marketing was an expense. But today, you can track nearly every marketing effort to understand what’s bringing in the most guests and the biggest spenders (both to your website and your venue). You’re able to easily see what you get in return of what you put in. This not only saves you from wasting your dollars, but helps to bring in more money than before. Even the smallest of budgets can see advantages from smart marketing.

    To get your marketing numbers down to a science, you’ll need a few simple tools to help you track and analyze your efforts. What is your investment going toward? Which channels are and aren’t working for you? How do you replicate the efforts that work to get even a bigger return? You’ll be able to answer that and make sure you’re spending your money in the right places and getting the results you want.

    1. Digital Referral Links

    Using digital referral links is going to allow you to track all your online marketing efforts. Every channel and every staff member should have its own link to use in promotions. You can even create links for different types of posts on the same channel, including one link for your Facebook cover photo, another for an organic Facebook post, and another for a Facebook ad. As your links get used, you’ll be able to see which efforts (and which staff members) are garnering the results you want to see. We at Vēmos have referral links built into our system, so you’re able to track not only clicks on your link, but also if that click resulted in a purchase. After all, getting 1,000 impressions or clicks doesn’t mean much if it didn’t result in anyone taking the action you wanted. Now you can track both and truly understand which channels, staff, and efforts are driving the most traffic. You can then compare your cost to your return to understand your ROI.

    2. Front of House Tools

    Along with tracking digital efforts to drive guests through your door, it’s also important to track day-of results as well. There’s a combination of front of house tools that will allow to track every guest who walks through your door — who they are, what brought them in, what type of guest they are. It’s all important information to understand your night and to understand if your marketing played a hand at it. Use a system at your door that tracks guest list, reservation, and general admission arrival all in one. You can even set this up so you’re able to track which promotion or referrer brought a general walk-up guest. Then, over time, you’re able to compare your results to identify consistencies and become more predictable with your marketing investment.

    3. Customer Database

    It may not seem like a customer database is a tool needed to be successful in marketing, but it’s one of your biggest assets. Make sure all of your digital referral links and front of house tools are equipped to create an individual guest profile once that guest converts. After all, this is how you provide personalized marketing. Each guest should have a profile that shows their lifetime spend, average spend, lifetime number of check-ins, and whether they’ve checked in as a walk-up guest or a VIP guest. What tickets have they bought in the past? What are their favorite liquor types? All of this comes back to individualized data that you can use for targeted, trackable marketing. When you have this detailed of a customer database, you can use it to filter your guests into like-minded groups to send targeted messages specifically to them, tracking the open, click, and conversion rates along with that targeted message. Now you’re able to provide a complete circle of personalized service both online and in-person.

    Once you have your marketing down to a science, start experimenting with your budget to get even more out of your marketing efforts. A good rule of thumb is the 80/20 rule, where 80% of your budget goes into channels you know work for you, and 20% is to experiment with new channels and new audiences. This is how you continually evolve your marketing efforts and turn it into a smart investment without being afraid of wasting your marketing dollars.