Category Archives: Marketing

How to Provide Personal Experiences

In last week’s blog, we talked about promotions that drive millennials. Two of the biggest takeaways were 1) millennials prioritize experiences over anything else, and 2) they expect personalization.

The bad news is the nightlife industry is dwindling in they eyes of millennials — fewer and fewer people are going out to nightclubs. There’s several reasons why that is, as discussed in this article. But the good news is we in the service industry have the opportunity to not only provide amazing outing experiences, but to also make those experiences personal.

Here’s how you can provide personal experiences to your guests to attract and maintain their loyalty to your venue.

1. Capture Guest Information

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. 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. You can also capture this information during your night at your door using a digital system. That way, you’re able to collect data on every type of customer that walks in your venue. 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. Send Personal 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. Make Their Night Special

Your personalization shouldn’t stop at marketing. You can keep this experience going when they get to your venue as well. When you use a system, you take the guesswork out and are able to understand your customers at a deeper level. Say goodbye to paper guestlists, and start providing personalized serve at your door. Greet your guests when they arrive. If you see that a customer is a regular guest list cover 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 a round of drinks 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 com back more often. This is how you organically build loyalty.

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.

Promotions that Drive Millennials

It’s the new hot topic. The “it” generation. The scapegoat behind a declining nightlife scene. We’re talking about millennials —the largest generation in history, accounting for 92 million people in the US alone.

Nearly every brand is dedicating resources to figure out how to best market to the millennial generation, and nightlife is no different. This generation approaches life differently than previous generations, and has flipped many industries on its head. They’re not going to follow what’s always been done, so now it’s up to you to think differently and reach them in ways that make sense to them.

In my opinion, everyone is over-complicating how to market to millennials. The Baby Boomers were the first generation to flip marketing upside down. Part of it was that there were new channels to use of marketing than were historically available, another part was that there were more people making buying decisions, and a third part was that their lifestyle was drastically different than generations before them. Sound familiar? There weren’t drastic changes between them and the Gen Xers in how they made buying decisions. But now with millennials, things are evolving yet again.

My number one rule for marketing is to know your audience. So what do we know about the millennial generation? Demographically, they’re between the ages of 18-35, the prime ages to be targeting for the nightlife industry. They’re also the most diverse generation to have ever existed, making it even more important to think of them in terms of lifestyles, such as:

  • They value experiences over physical goods, and will prioritize their money accordingly.
  • They value authenticity and want to align themselves with an authentic cause. Growing up with information overload, millennials can detect when a brand is authentic, and they’ll adjust their behaviors to support that.
  • They want to participate with a brand’s marketing and feel like they’re a part of the journey. They don’t want to be sold to, so forget about the hard sell. They don’t respond to salespeople telling them how great their products are. They rely more on social opinion than the brands messaging itself.
  • They care more about quality and are willing to pay extra for it. But on the other hand, they’re the most broke generation and I’ve a life of debt, and are therefore more likely to evaluate if something is worth the price tag.
  • They’re the first generation of digital natives, meaning they’re always connected and rely heavily on their mobile devices. and their affinity for technology helps shape how they interact with brands. They’re always connected and rely heavily on our mobile devices.

There are a lot of aspects of the millennial lifestyle that are beneficial to the nightlife industry and align with what nightclubs & bars have to offer. But the biggest issue I see when it comes to nightclubs & bars marketing to this generation is that they haven’t evolved in their strategies. Most are using the same messages, the same channels, and the same tactics they’ve always used. An anonymous online survey was sent out to discover why millennials are no longer attending nightclubs anymore. And there’s a lot of crossover between what millennials want and what nightclubs are doing wrong.

When you’re trying to attract a group that cares the most about an experience, you have to realize that you’re no longer competing against other bars and nightclubs. Your competition pool just opened up. Sporting events are your competition. The theater, moves, even Netflix is your competition. Traveling and vacations are also your competition. And for age group that doesn’t have as much disposable income as previous generations, they’re going to put their dollars behind experiences they actually want. After all, one millennial interviewed in The Guardian stated “A night out now costs almost as much as a weekend away…and a weekend away looks better on Instagram.”

That’s what you need to think about when you build out your promotions and organize your night. So how do you do this?

1. Create Experiences

Don’t just open your doors and pray that people walk through. Create themes for your night. Transform your space using more design elements. Use event-like thinking to market those themes. Millennials are oddly all about the nostalgia. Lean into that. 90s parties are great. Bring back popular artists form days off old to perform – I’ve seen those concerts do extraordinary well. I’ve also seen more interactive experiences do really well for bars, such a mystery themes or real-life clue where your staff is involved and more engaging with consumers that are there. We’re also seeing an increase in popularity with bar and club crawls amongst this generation. For them, it’s a way to experience more in a single night. For you, it’s a way to increase exposure.

2. Be Personal

Millennials air everything there is to know about their life on the internet. And as such, they expect you to know their habits and how to cater to them. They grew up with the burst of Amazon, who sends recommendations based on past habits and reminders of when you’re due to buy something based on time. That’s the personalized expectations they have of you, and they’re willing to exchange their data for more relevant marketing and personalized service.

Use a CRM system to collect information on every guest that walks through your door. With this data, you’re able to send personalized messages to drive your promotions home. Unveil big announcements to your customers before the rest of the public. Reach out to a specific audience – such a those who have a birthday coming up this week, or those who attended an event in the past, or those who have spent over $100 at your bar. Whatever it is, you’re able to send a specific message to a specific audience. That’s personal. That shows you are about them and your’e ready to provide them a personalized service.

3. Focus on Quality

Millennials value quality over price, and are willing to pay extra for it. Luckily, we’re in the service industry and can provide quality customer service and quality experiences that make the price of going out worth it. I can say for myself, and for many of my friends, that we’d prefer to pay a few extra dollars to receive great service. If we don’t feel like we’re being offered excellent service at one venue, we’ll go down the street where we know we will. So treat your guests with great customer service from the first interaction with the bouncer all the way to the staff at the bar. Also make sure your products are of high quality, including your food and drinks. Millennials have a knack for identifying if something is worth the price tag.

4. Engage on the right channels

Millennials are labeled the always connected generation for a reason. A study by Zigby Analytics confirmed 87% of millennials say their phones never leave their side. Use text message campaigns to send direct messages to your customers. Better yet, segment who you text based on past behaviors. Use all the tools that social media has to offer, including organic posts, Facebook events, targeted Facebook ads, and custom Snapchat filters. During your night, have a staff member live-stream part so your party. Videos are one of the best ways to reach this audience, and social channels now automatically play videos in your news feed and send push notifications when someone you follow goes live. According to Facebook, the average time its users spend watching live video si three times longer than when the videos is not live.

The key to your promotions is to recognize the evolving lifestyles of millennials and change with them. History teaches us that the demand for nights out never goes away; it simply evolves. Understand who you’re marketing to, consider the lifestyles that drive them to engage with you, and live up to their expectations. That’s how you’ll stay relevant through this millennia shift.

Letting People In For Free Is Costing You Your Club and Reputation

How many times have you opened your rope and let guests in without paying a cover and without receiving contact information? After observing thousands of doors at nightclubs, I can say it’s safe to say you have. It’s common practice, but it’s also dangerous to your long-term business health.

When I ask the staff or management why they allow this, I often hear:

“He’s regular here.”

“He’s our friend.”

“If we don’t do this for them, they will never come back.”

“He spends a lot of money at the bar.”

“This is what you have to do in order to get people to come back every week.”

Could you imagine if other businesses, outside of nightlife, followed that same philosophy? I would never pay for clothes at my favorite store, my daily cup of coffee, my hair appointment, even most of my food from restaurants.

But nightlife is different from those industries, you say. I agree that the industry is different, and your guests have different experiences than they do in a retail environment. But you’re still a business. In fact, the lifespan of a nightclub is significantly smaller than any other business, with the average at just 18 months. When you open a nightclub, you have overhead, staff, liquor costs, and other hard costs just like any other business. And when you let people get things for free just because you feel like you have to, you’re decreasing the livelihood of your venue. How do you plan on letting your ‘regulars and friends’ in for free when you can no longer afford to stay open?

Letting people in for free does make them feel special. It also ensures that they will never be willing to pay full price in the future. They now expect discounts and expect to get things for free. And now they’re bringing their entourage with them and expect them to get the same free level of service. This is a major hit to your business from both a revenue and a brand perception standpoint.

I understand nightlife is in the hospitality category, and I’m a huge advocate of making people feel important when they go out. But there’s a better way to go about it.

Here are some tips on how to give your guests a great experience without losing the respect of your guests.

1. Give Free Entry for Information

Have your regulars that you want to let in without paying a cover register their information on a guestlist and have them arrive before a certain time. This way, they are trading their valuable contact information for free entry instead of you just opening the rope for them. Also, you are giving them an option if they want to arrive early and receive free cover or come later and pay a reduced cover. Arriving earlier means they will likely spend more money at the bar and make your place look busier when others arrive. This tradeoff still gives them free entry, but you get added value in return.

2. Limit Staff Comps

Make a process for identifying who should and shouldn’t be comped instead of allowing staff to make these decisions on the fly. Imagine if you owned a retail shop and allowed your staff to give away free clothes at their discretion? That would rarely, if never, happen. Same goes with nightlife. There’s no problem with having a staff guest list for free or reduced cover, but use a system. Make it mandatory that each staff has to enter their guest list in a system with their parties’ contact information. You can also limit the amount of comps that each staff member can give out on a whim. Now you can track how many comps are given out each night, when they arrive, and which staff members are bringing in the most people.

3. Buy the First Round

If you feel someone is important or you simply want to show your appreciation to a guest, buy them their first drink instead of comping their cover at the door. A drink will cost you a few cents, where cover costs you several dollars. This still makes them feel valued and appreciated, and will show them a impressive experience for them to come back with more of their friends. And it’s been shown that personalization and quality service trumps discounts and coupons to the millennial generation. A win-win for all.

4. Be Poised and Pulled Together

Having a digital guest list process at the door makes everything more pulled together. Your guests don’t have to wait outside for the staff member they know to come let them in. They don’t have to have awkward conversations with your door staff about how they were supposed to be on the list. You don’t have to guess whether or not they’re telling the truth that they do in fact know x person. Better yet, you don’t turn away a person that should be on the list and is a valued customer because a new door person is working, or their connection is off for the night. This leaves money on the table and severely hinders that guests’ experience, decreasing the chances of them coming back. A digital guest list process solves all these issues and can help you to provide a better, more personalized service.

When you let people in for free, you’re losing respect from your customers and are on the way to losing your business. The venues and promoters who have proper systems in place not only end up staying in business longer, but they also make their guests feel more connected and have an even better experience.

The Benefit of Nightclub Management Software

Running a successful venue isn’t easy. You have various departments in charge of different tasks, not to mention an array of staff members to account for. That’s why it’s more important than ever to stay connected, both from a personnel and an operations standpoint. Fortunately, there are solutions available to help you streamline your operations to be a revenue-generating powerhouse.

So What’s Stopping You?

Despite the opportunity to become a powerhouse, many nightclub owners and managers respond to venue management systems with hesitation and fear – fear of the unknown, fear of change, and fear that technology will end up slowing down the speed of night. But after working with many nightclubs on switching them over to integrated digital solutions, I can assure you that technology has actually done the opposite of what they feared.

The key ingredient to venue or nightclub management software is that it has to be integrated into all areas of you club. We call this interconnectivity. Without everything connected together, your venue suffers.

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.

What to Look For

Technology should not be complicated. In fact, it should be used as a tool to save time and money while enhancing customer experience.

The key ingredient to venue or nightclub management software is that it has to be integrated into all areas of your club. Look for a comprehensive venue management platform like 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.

Having one dashboard that houses reservation management, guest list management, general admission, events & ticketing, your CRM database, and all of your analytics is what allows you to streamline your operations and grow your business. You spend less time on the tedious process and more time focusing on bigger, more beneficial tasks.

Reap the Benefits

With a comprehensive venue management system like Vēmos, you become interconnected across operations, staff, and customers. This means you’re now experiencing the benefits of:

  • Accessing and managing all your information and departments in one dashboard
  • Getting your staff in the loop on one system for seamless communication
  • Getting to know your customers on a deeper level so you can better market to and serve them, which ultimately enhances their experience
  • Understanding which marketing activities work and don’t work to drive more customers and generate more revenue
  • Seeing in-depth analytics across all areas of your venue in one dashboard so you truly understand how you’re performing
  • Remove duplicate processes and duplicated information across multiple systems. Everything syncs together for efficient, effective results.

When you have multiple areas of your club, or even multiple clubs for that matter, you need a solution that combines everything into one central spot. This is what helps you to truly understand how your venue is performing and who your guests are, which allows you to make better decisions to make more money. Plus, the efficiency of having everything tied together saves you time. Save time, make money, all with a simple setup. That’s what digital can do for you.

Marketing on a 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’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 do this, you’ll need to get your marketing numbers down to a science. 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? Find out with these four tips.

1. Define Your Goals

In any investment, you have to know what you want to achieve to understand if it was a good investment. The same is true with marketing. What do you want your marketing campaign to do? Bring in new door traffic? Increase pre-sale tickets to an event? Drive up bar sales? Defining this right away will help you craft the right message, choose the right channels, and set up the right tracking tools to later identify if your marketing worked for you.

2. Identify Your Audience

Marketing is irrelevant if you don’t have an audience. Identify who you’re targeting and get a grasp of what inspires them to act. What’s their demographic and geographic makeup? What are their habits? Which social channels are they on the most, and what are they looking for in a night out? These are all important answers for you to know so that you narrow in on a specific group of people with a specific message on specific channels. The more narrow you get, the more impact you’ll see.

If you don’t have any data to start with, think through who you typically see inside your venue and use that as a starting point. Market on channels that have the highest likelihood of your audience being there, such as Facebook and Instagram. The first few times will be trail and error, which is why it’s even more important to track your efforts. Which brings me to point three.

3. Track Your Efforts

Set up affiliate marketing links so you can track all your 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.

It’s also important to track day-of results as well, including those who walked through your door. Use a system at your door that tracks guest list, reservation, and general admission arrival all in one. You can set this up so you’re able to track which promotion or referrer brought a general walk-up guest. This way, you’re not only tracking what happened before you opened your doors, but also during and after as well. Then, over time, you’re able to compare your results to identify consistencies and become more predictable with your marketing investment. We at Vēmos automate the affiliate link processes and have a full check-in system at the door so you save time and energy with these tracking efforts. Results are tracked within your dashboard so you can always see how you’re performing and if it lines up with your goals.

4. Start Experimenting

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.

To learn more about how you can better use your marketing dollars with live examples, attend Whitney Larson’s session during the 207 Nightclub & Bar Tradeshow.