Category Archives: Sales

Bar Crowd vs. VIP Crowd: Which is Better?

I was recently in an online discussion with industry leaders about which business model is best for nightclubs: bottle service or bar service. It seems there’s not one simple answer to this question, and everyone has a different viewpoint. However, most resonated with the idea that it doesn’t have to be one over the other; that they’re both critical to the success of a venue.

We believe treating the two as exclusive parts of a club hurts your venue more than helps it. Both bottle service and bar service are important aspects of your club’s performance, especially in today’s landscape. We see the best clubs are those that integrate both areas with the same approach, value both with the same level of priority, and treat all customers – whether bar or bottle service customers – on a personal level. Not only do guests prefer to go to these clubs, but they’re the ones that are advancing their business most rapidly.

One person in the discussion pointed out the bar crowd controls the atmosphere and ambiance of the venue, which attracts the bottle patrons who bring in the revenue. We couldn’t agree more. While it’s possible to succeed focusing on one over the other, it doesn’t make as much of an impact if you were to treat the two together. Putting effort into both sides of this equation optimizes your club’s performance and maximizes your revenue.

A customer relationship management (CRM) system works to bring that personal service to all guests, especially when it’s tied to your point of sale system. While it’s true your big spenders at the VIP tables deserve the ultimate personal service, your bar crowd deserves some personal touches, too. And in the age of big data, people are used to being treated as an individual by brands than ever before.

Your CRM system can help you do this without extra time or effort. What’s more is it can potentially increase your revenue by converting your bar guests to a big-spending bottle service guest. Here’s an example.

Your CRM system helps you know who your guests are so you can identify them in line (especially when you have a mobile CRM system). You can tell from this system if a guest is a regular attendee for your bar crowd, which means you can offer to upsell them to bottle service right then and there. It’s always best to be as personal as possible when doing an upsell, so mention that you notice they come in often and think they would enjoy a bottle service experience. They’ll be more likely after this experience to continue to be a bottle service customer, become more loyal to your venue, and refer friends.

Even though it’s natural to want to pour your energy and resources into your VIP section, don’t forget about your bar crowd. They’re an important aspect of your club and, with the right technology tools, can be persuaded to spend even more.

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

Don’t let your sales team come last

It’s often the last thought on a club or bar owners mind: who is selling their venue? Most rely on the hype of being the newest and hottest venue to drive the most business. Then they layer on print marketing, public relations updates, and a few major events to increase awareness. If you asked every club owner in the country what their sales and marketing efforts are, most answers would contain those basic elements. I will argue, however, that they’re missing the key component of an internal sales team.

Too many owners shy from building an internal sales team because of labor costs or lack of personal knowledge. This is even more evident in smaller markets. But in reality, building an internal sales team is a strategic move that will increase your venue’s results month after month. Call them promoters, VIP servers, or VIP hosts – it doesn’t make a difference. In smaller venues, you can even layer this responsibility in your operations staff. At the end of the day, it’s all about their job function. Here’s what you need to do.

  1. Take time to learn what makes up a good team, and put the right people in place.
  2. Get advice from others. If needed, hire an advisor or consultant.
  3. Build a sales process that will be in place for staff.
  4. Provide tools to succeed and monitor production.
  5. Give staff time to hit tangible goals and incentivize them when they do.

Building your team and processes are an ongoing process, so be patient. With a strong internal sales team, you own the relationships with your guests and directly influence how people receive your message. And above all, the sales team will be able to directly produce revenue by continuously bringing more people into your venue.

John Wickes is an advisor for BookBottles.

Boost Revenue with Online Cross-Selling

We’ve discussed upselling and pre-selling in the past as top-performing sales strategies. Now it’s time to take this a step further and combine the two with cross-selling.

Cross-selling is the act of suggesting a complimentary product to the one your customer just purchased. Most clubs already use this concept 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 clubs aren’t realizing the opportunity of digital cross-selling, particularly as it relates to pre-selling.

Let’s look at an example of a consumer purchasing a ticket for your event online:

  1. Your consumer goes online to pre-purchase a ticket for your event.
  2. She fills out the necessary form fields and hits the submit button to process her payment.
  3. She gets to a confirmation landing page thanking her for her purchase and recommending her to also pre-purchase a VIP table for the night and a limousine for her transportation.
  4. She 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. What’s more is with the suggested additions, your customer is bound to have an enhanced party experience that will build their loyalty.

Don’t stop short at only pre-selling one focused item. Identify other areas to which that item relates to build your digital cross-selling strategy.

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

Guarantee Your Revenue with 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. Here’s what you need to do:

1.Know your inventory

From nightclubs to restaurants, there are events and inventory to be sold. All you have to do is simply quantify them and make them available to purchase in advance. Some examples include table reservations, cover charges, big-name performances, dining events, and social events. Think big picture about your venue and discover which inventory can be pre-purchased.

2. Get the word out

We live in the social media era, which means there are many inexpensive ways to drive awareness. Make your pre-sale message clear, attractive and exclusive, and be consistent across all media channels. Above all, make sure your customers get what you promised and what they purchased.

3.Define your goals

Do your research and understand your venue’s opportunities. Make sure your projected revenues are realistic, on budget, and achievable.

Every event or venue, regardless of size, benefits from the pre-sale of inventory. A goal of any business is to drive revenue and translate it to money in the bank. Go one step further and make it a guarantee!

John Wickes is an advisor for BookBottles.

4 Tips for Powerful Upselling

Here’s the thing: most people, including your staff, think of upselling as obnoxious salespeople convincing customers of things they don’t need. So while you’re thinking of upselling as one of the most effective ways to maximize revenue, they’re thinking of it as a dreadful task. But it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, upselling shouldn’t be this way. It should be a value-add to your customers’ life … that also happens to boost your club’s results.

Here are 4 ways you can use upselling to boost results across all areas of your club:

1. Be focused

Studies show the majority of guests appreciate upselling when it’s focused on their needs. Offering a VIP guest a complementing mixer to the bottle they ordered or another bottle they may be interested in shows the server is focused on and cares about 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.

2. Be attentive

Paying attention to detail makes it easy to determine the best path to upsell a customer. 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.

3. Be educational

While all this sounds great, it can’t be done without your servers and other staff being educated on these steps. Train them to be a focused and attentive seller rather than just an order tracker. Teach them the right questions to ask to get the best responses. And above all, train them on any technology you use to access powerful guest information. The more they know, the better off your club will be.

4. Be rewarding

Servers and staff are likely to perform when they are incentivized for a job-well-done. What’s more, when you focus on the bigger picture of upselling based on customer needs vs. upselling based on a product you want to sell, you’ll see a bigger boost in staff morale, customer loyalty, and club revenue. The same technology platform referenced above can also track how much each server is upselling a customer. This allows you to make better decisions on how and when to reward staff as well as comment on specific moments to truly maximize results.

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