Category Archives: Marketing

3 Questions to Ask Before Hosting an Event

Hosting events is one of the best ways to get people through your door. Yet, many venues rush through the planning process and go toward the first third-party ticketing vendor they meet to help promote their event. This is a great idea, until you realize most of these third-party ticketing sites don’t fully set you up for success. Here are three questions you need to ask before signing up with a third-party company to ensure your event – and your club – gets the best return.

1. Where does my money go?

Most ticketing sites collect your customers’ payments in their own banks until after the event is over. Once the day of your event has passed, they’ll cut you a check for what you earned, but not until they’ve made sure to take any fees they deem themselves worthy to collect. Then, it takes a few business days for the remaining money to appear in your account, meaning you may not actually get paid until a week after the event happened (and weeks since your guests even purchased their ticket).

Instead, you should look to companies that ensure payment goes directly through your merchant services provider and into your bank account right from the get-go. That way, a guest purchasing a ticket to your event is the same process as that guest buying a drink inside your venue doors.

2. What will be on my event page?

Many ticketing sites have online-hosted pages about your event to help promote it and attract buyers. Yet, some of these sites don’t have the capabilities for guests to purchase tickets directly from the site. What’s worse is your event page is chock-full of advertisements and information about “similar venues” (aka competing venues).

Confirm beforehand what’s going to be on your event page and look for companies that don’t have competing venues or advertisements, that allow guests to purchase tickets directly from the website, and that have the capabilities for you to fully customize your page to your needs.

3. Will I have access to the data after the event?

It’s sad, but most ticketing sites don’t let venues see detailed information on who bought their tickets. Rather, they leverage this data to sell tickets for other venues on their own site. This is a huge missed opportunity and something you should never let happen.

Always make sure you’re given full access to your data. After all, data is one aspect you absolutely need to make better decisions and grow your profits. Your data should be able to tell you the number of tickets sold, the amount of revenue earned, a comparison of tickets sold and sales by event, the number of parties who attended, and who bought your tickets – including their name, gender, age, zip code, email, and phone number. This information lets you know whether your event was a success, what to improve on for the next event, and toward whom your marketing should be geared.

Whitney Johnson is the global director of marketing at BookBottles. Contact her at

How to Make More Revenue Without Doing More Work

A goal of any business is to drive revenue and translate it to money in the bank. What if we told you it’s possible to not only drive revenue, but also increase the amount of revenue you’re already driving without adding any extra work to your daily operations? We’re not pulling your leg; it’s possible.

Use a combination of pre-sales, upsales, and cross-sales to boost your club. Here’s what we mean by each one.

1. Pre-Sales

Imagine it’s hours before you open and your mind is at ease because you have thousands of dollars in pre-sold inventory. On top of that, your worries about cancelations are a thing of the past since your reservations aren’t simply guaranteed, but purchased in advance.

This is not a dream; this is reality, and it’s easier than you think. All you need is to quantify your inventory (table reservations, cover charges, events, etc), make that inventory available to purchase in advance, get the word out about the pre-sale items, and measure the results against your pre-defined goals. Now, you have revenue coming in before you even open your door.

2. Upsales

Most people think of upselling as obnoxious salespeople convincing customers of things they don’t need. However, when presented correctly, upselling is a value-add to your guests’ lives…that also happens to boost your club’s results. In fact, studies show the majority of guests appreciate upselling when it’s focused on their needs. It’s perceived by the guest as a premium, highly personalized level of service which enables them to stay longer, spend more, and come back often.

Perhaps a guest’s behavior in line alludes he will spend a lot in your club – upsell him to a VIP table. Perhaps you can identify a guest has visited your club every week for the past month – offer a free VIP table and upsell him to bottle service. There are technology services available that track most of this information for individual guests, including number of visits, average spend, and favorite liquor types. A VIP guest will appreciate the attentiveness of a server saying, “I noticed you ordered a bottle of Belvedere last time you were here. May I start you out with that and another bottle of your choice?” Now you have his attention, have made him feel important, and have likely sold him on a second bottle before he even finished his first.

3. Cross-Sales

Cross-selling is the act of suggesting a complimentary product to the one your customer just purchased. This can happen both when your guest is at your club and before he/she arrives (think enhanced pre-sale).

Most clubs already use the concept of cross-selling when consumers are already in their venue, such as suggesting the customer purchases a round of shots to go with his/her already purchased drink. However, most aren’t realizing the opportunity of digital cross-selling. Let’s look at an example of a guest purchasing a ticket for your event online:

  • Your guest goes online to pre-purchase a ticket for your event
  • He fills out the necessary form fields and hits the submit button to process his payment
  • He gets to a confirmation landing page thanking him for his purchase and recommending him to also pre-purchase a VIP table for the night and a limousine for his transportation
  • He pre-purchases both the VIP table and the limousine, putting extra guaranteed money in the bank

Cross-selling the VIP table and limousine (particularly if you create a partnership with a limousine company) on the confirmation page enables you to earn more revenue than you would have without the suggestion. Now you not only have revenue from three different areas of your club, but you have guaranteed revenue from three different areas.

Using these three types of sales tactics is simple to implement and the payout is huge. Don’t sell yourself short by only doing the basic sales inside your venue. Identify items that you can pre-sell, upsell, and cross-sell, and watch your profit soar.

Whitney Johnson is the global director of marketing for BookBottles. Contact her at

The Best Way to Drive Guests into Your Venue

People aren’t coming to your club for your $500 bottle of vodka or your $13 drink; they’re coming for your party. Without a great party, you don’t have an audience. And without an audience, you don’t generate revenue.

The following four steps is the best recipe to driving guests into your venue.

1. Know your audience

Your audience is the number one driver of your nightclub. They’re what your business model is centered around; the reason you’re in existence. The better people you have in your club, the better party you create. But to get the best people in your door, you first have to know which type of people you want to attract and thereby represent your club. It’s not enough to have a basic understanding of only demographics. You need to discover their idea of a good party, the music they like to hear, the alcohol they like to drink, and even the servers they prefer. Do your research and know that there’s no shame in denying those that don’t fit your criteria.

2. Check your fundamentals

The fundamentals of an establishment oftentimes get overlooked. This means your venue is set up in a way that makes sense, your bathrooms are clean, you have welcoming décor, your club feels safe and secure, and you have adequate staff in place – meaning you have the right people in the right place and have the right number of people working on any given night. Too often, we see all the hard work put into creating a party undermined by understaffing issues. Guests should have a drink in their hands at all times, not waiting for a half an hour to get one. While it may sound expensive to have adequate staff, it’s even more costly to understaff. Every second a guest is waiting for a drink is a dollar you’re not taking to the bank. And if they wait long enough, it may turn into thousands.

3. Create a marketing strategy

Once you’ve defined your audience and put your fundamentals in place, you can start to spread the word. It’s much easier to market and promote your venue when you know exactly whom you’re trying to reach. The best strategy is to always keep your customers informed while maintaining a clear and consistent message in all your efforts. Use a multi-channel strategy to get the word out, such as a combination of text-message marketing, printed collateral, email updates, and social media. Just using one channel will not do. Diversify your efforts, track returns, and adjust focus based on results.

4. Get the word out

A customer relationship management (CRM) system goes a long way in ensuring you’re reaching the right people at the right time. Because the CRM System tracks important customer activity, such as when they come to your club, how much they spend, what they drink, and how many people they bring with them, you’re able to send more targeted, personal and relevant messages to individual guests. This means you’re able to use filter to segment your customers into specific targeted audiences, which in turn means each audience gets messages that are 100% relevant to their habits. That’s powerful marketing, and that’s what continues to drive guests into your venue.

Whitney Johnson is the global director of marketing for BookBottles. Contact her at

Nightclub Marketing Guide

We’re all about analytical systems here at BookBottles, especially when it comes to collecting important customer information. It may be the geek in us, but we truly believe that with great data comes great insight, with great insight comes great marketing, and with great marketing comes great profits.

In the nightlife industry, marketing is oftentimes narrowed to a single concept: promoters. Very rarely do venues look at the whole marketing picture. Along with promotions and events, your name, logo, interior ambiance, and overall brand image falls within the marketing umbrella. What’s more is few venues have the necessary insight on their customers to understand what niche their business falls into and what customers they need to attract.

That’s where a customer relationship management (CRM) system comes into play. The best run venues work with a robust CRM system that’s tied to their point of sale to uncover key information about their club and their customers. Not only are they able to better identify guests and treat them with personalized service, but they’re able to improve their marketing efforts.

Because the CRM system tracks important customer activity, such as when they come to your club, how much they spend, what they drink, and how many people they bring with them, you’re able to send more targeted, personal and relevant messages to individual guests. This means you’re able to use filters to segment your customers into specific targeted audiences, which in turn means each audience gets messages that are 100% relevant to their habits. That’s powerful marketing, and that’s what continues to drive guests into your venue.

Gone are the days where it’s acceptable to mass blast an email, social, or text message campaign. It’s no longer a matter of trying to capture the general nightlife population; it’s a matter of catering to your specific audience and niche, reaching them in a personalized way that drives them to make an emotional buying decision at your club. This is what separates your club from the rest. It’s what allows you to offer the impeccable service your customers need. And it’s where the secret of customer loyalty lies. Market with your objective, niche, and target audience in mind, and keep it personalized using your data from your CRM system. That’s the new wave of nightlife marketing and what gets your customers to become loyal, long-term guests.

The One Thing You Need to Be Successful

I recently attended a seminar at the Nightclub & Bar Conference where the speaker asked this basic question: What must your venue have to be successful? Most attendees responded with bars, dance floor, liquor, DJ, etc. Very few thought beyond the mere infrastructure and came up with the number one component of a successful club – customers.

The hard truth is that your customers are the only thing that matters. Without customers, you don’t have a venue. Furthermore, your customers expect and deserve quality customer service that is consistent time and time again. This is what keeps your customers coming back and what grows your profits.

But how do you get customers in the first place? Here are 5 tips to acquire and retain great customers.

1. Create a Brand Image

People connect with venues that have a focused style. This style is your brand image. It’s what aligns customer expectation with customer experience. Your brand needs to represent your club’s reputation through your attributes, values, purpose, strengths and passions. It should clearly differentiate you from the club down the street or even across the country. Define your vision, create the essence you want your customers to experience, and design everything – from your logo, to your interior, to your messaging – around these items. From there, your featured drinks, events and other promotions should align with this brand image. Never lose site of your brand, and always work to strengthen it online and inside your doors. This is what drives consistency for your public perception and what gets people to connect with you on an emotional level.

2. Build a Good Team

Your venue is only as good as the team you put in place to run it. That’s why it’s crucial to find people who are passionate about your venue’s mission and purpose, fit in with your culture, and who are trustworthy. This includes everyone you hire, from the employees inside the venue’s walls to the promoters on the street. Having a team member on board whose heart isn’t in the right place can create a situation that lacks care and excitement, and consequently sabotages your efforts. And when this happens, don’t be afraid to let that person go. The best run venues always have the right people in the right spots and treat them with professionalism and respect.

3. Put the Right Systems in Place

This is a behind-the-scenes step that needs to happen in order to have a well-run nightclub. While it’s true the systems themselves won’t bring customers in your door, they will ensure your staff is following operational processes and procedures to give guests the best possible experience. Some of this may be as simple as defining roles and communication processes. Others may be more complex, like finding a technology system to help streamline operations. Either way, it’s important to clearly define and establish systems that are easy for everyone to follow.

4. Treat Each Guest as an Important Individual

Guests don’t want to be treated as a number, especially VIP guests. They should be greeted at the door, walked to their table, offered their personal top-purchased liquors, and attended to by their favorite server. Having a customer relationship management (CRM) system in place helps track this information to give seamless VIP service from all staff members. What’s more is the CRM system enables you to provide personal touches to your regular bar crowd, too. After all, in the age of big data, people are used to being treated as an individual by companies more than ever before. This personal treatment you’re able to offer will provide your guests with a better experience, making them more loyal and more likely to refer friends to your venue.

5. Stay Current

Our industry is constantly changing. After all, the average lifespan of a nightclub is only two years. That’s why it’s more important than ever to keep a close eye on all the details in this market and stay up-to-date on trends. This includes music styles, drink trends, décor trends, technology trends, and even customer income fluctuations. All of these factors impact the decisions and successes of your venue.

Whitney Johnson is the global director of marketing at BookBottles. Contact her at