To improve sales, you need to increase foot traffic to your bar. Unfortunately, increasing foot traffic, especially on slower weekday nights, can be difficult.
One way to do this is through bar events. It’s a simple yet effective way to get people interested in your bar and boost business.
But constantly needing to host events can also be creatively draining–which is why we’ve created this list. Here are 19 bar event ideas to increase foot traffic, boost sales, and establish your local reputation.
The Benefits Of Bar Events
Before we get into the nitty gritty of bar events, let’s take a look at some of the awesome benefits that come along with it.
Increase Sales On Slow Nights
For most bars, slow nights are unavoidable. Weekends, holidays, hot summer days–these are all great for business. But if you’re open 6 days a week, only having 2 or 3 busy days can spell trouble.
Bar events are a way to fill up those empty days. With events, you can improve weeknight business and set your bar up for long-term success.
Stand Out In Competitive Market
The bar and restaurant industry is very competitive. In 2022, there were 68 000 bars in the US, with a steady increase every year. Unfortunately, the majority don’t make it past their infancy–2 to 3 years–and onto long-term success.
To stand out in such a competitive market, you need to offer things that your competitors don’t.
Events attract foot traffic and offer your bar the chance to stand out from the crowd.
Bigger events like theme nights and local charity events are also more likely to grab media attention, which goes a long way in increasing your chances of long-term success.
Attract New Customers
Events are a great way to attract new clientele to your bar. Traditional bar patrons are people who are looking for a drink after work and locals who stumbled through your door by chance.
You need to be proactive about attracting more clientele. By hosting a variety of events, you increase the number and variety of visitors to your bar. Your local reputation will grow, and you’ll have more people visiting even when you aren’t hosting events.
Consistently hosting great events is going to increase your brand reach, raise awareness of your bar, and make you a local, year-round favorite.
Bar Event Hosting Tips
To make the most of your bar event ideas, we’d suggest following these simple but effective hosting tips.
Partner With Locals
You aren’t alone in your venture for local success, which offers you the unique opportunity to partner with other local businesses.
- Partner with local DJs that need exposure in exchange for a lower performance fee.
- Create a signature drink with a local brewery and carry the beer during events for a discounted price.
- Partner with an art gallery, theatre, or other events space and increase both of your exposure.
- Get a restaurant to provide great food or catering in exchange for promoting their business to hungry patrons.
These are just a few examples of how you can utilize local partnerships to lower costs and increase your reach.
By partnering with locals, you help the local economy and establish valuable connections. Mutually beneficial relationships are also going to lower event hosting costs.
Create An Events Calendar
Plan your bar and restaurant promotion ideas in advance. Create an events calendar at least four months into the future, and map the events in a way that makes sense. For example, it makes more sense to host an outdoor event in summer than in winter.
Planning in advance gives you enough time to create unique events and establish partnerships with other local businesses. You can also use event management software like Perfect Venue to keep track of all your bar events.
Start Promotions Early
Start promoting and planning your event at least 4 weeks before the event date. It allows enough time for the event promotions to spread and anticipation to build around the event. This also gives you enough time to gauge interest in the event and to make adjustments where need be.
Be Cost Effective
One of the biggest barriers to even hosting is event costs. Luckily, there are a few ways to lower expenses.
First, partner with locals. As mentioned above, establishing mutually beneficial relationships with locals will help you and your local partners gain business.
Second, alternate between big and small events. While some events are resource intensive, they don’t need to be your main focus. Small, low-cost events can be just as effective and are often more fun. So, don’t spend all your time and resources on big, expensive events.
Lastly, utilize online marketing. It’s a more effective and cheaper alternative to physical marketing.
Utilize Online Marketing
Online marketing like social media and email marketing is an effective and cheap way to promote your bar and events.
Open social media accounts for your bar and regularly interact with people. Post your event posters with dates and ticket links if you have any. You can also promote posts to your target audience with built-in and affordable social media ad tools.
Marketing analytics will also help you gauge interest in your events, as well as keep track of event trends, all of which you can use to create even better events in the future.
19 Bar Event Ideas
Next, let’s look over some popular bar and restaurant promotion ideas. From theme nights to beer pong tournaments, these events are guaranteed to drum up interest in your bar and boost sales.
Trivia nights are very popular and are relatively cheap to host. All you need is a mic, trivia questions, and a prize for your winner. If you don’t have a trivia game on hand, there are many trivia questions to choose from online. For a dedicated crowd, plug into popular fandoms and host themed trivia nights for those fans.
Summer Kickoff Party
Tap into the summer vibes with a summer kickoff party. Make use of any outdoor bar space and establish a quirky dress code, like wearing only blue and yellow. Offer a few fruity cocktails, put up beachy decorations, and make sure the music is upbeat and fresh.
A charity event is a great way to give back and get your patrons involved in a good cause.
Choose a local charity to support. Give them a call and get them involved in the process. If possible, have them send over an ambassador to talk on the night of the event. Donate the night's proceeds or offer patrons the opportunity to donate or auction off items.
Drink Tasting (Beer and Wine)
Drink tastings are super fun. They’re also a great opportunity for your bar to partner with local drink producers. So, host a beer or wine tasting, and get your local breweries involved. To spice things up, add a fun activity like yoga or create a themed dress code for the event.
Board Games Night
Board games nights are a hit and for good reason. They’re easy to host and offer bar patrons the chance to relieve stress. Bring along your own board games or let patrons know they can bring their own.
Patrons are also going to invite friends and family, which does much of the marketing for you. All you need to provide is drink, food, and tablets to play on.
Open Mic Night
Open mic night is the perfect way to get local creatives to give your bar a visit while simultaneously providing entertainment for your other patrons. All you need is a small stage and a mic. Local singers, poets, and comedians will do the rest.
Who doesn’t love karaoke nights? Similar to open mic nights, all you need is a mic, a small stage, and a monitor with lyrics. You can also buy an affordable karaoke machine if you want to make it a regular thing.
To spice up the evening, make it themed. Sing only 80s tracks, add decorations that match the theme, and tell patrons to get creative with their outfits.
Holiday Season Celebrations
A lot of people don’t want to celebrate the holidays at home. So, invite guests to your bar where they can celebrate holidays like Halloween, New Year's Eve, Valentine's Day, etc. You’ll need to invest some money in decorations, but the turnout will be worth it.
Live Sports Game Nights
Tap into the local sports scene and make your bar a game-day hot spot. While you’ll need to invest in a good television and sound system, the cost will be worth it–especially for popular games like football, soccer, and racing. You can later repurpose the tv and sound system for other events on this list.
Live music always manages to draw a big crowd, especially if you keep ticket prices low. Partner with a live band or a bunch of local talent, and make sure to promote it well in advance. Ask the talent to also promote the event to their fans.
Drag shows are hype and extremely fun. They’re also a smart way to attract younger patrons and their friends.
For a drag show, you’ll need a few performers, a small stage with bright lights, a sparkly backdrop, and good music. Work with local drag kings and queens, ask them about their specific needs and promote the show on social media.
Themed Dance Party
Host a themed dance party, like a salsa or tango night. You can go all out with decorations and signature drinks. Or you can provide only the music and encourage patrons to dress up to create a specific vibe. Whichever option you choose, make sure the music matches the dance style.
TV Or Movie Viewing Party
Viewing parties have become increasingly popular as they offer a way for adults to meet people with similar interests as them. Similar to the game night viewings, all you’ll need is a big tv or protector and a good sound system. You can also offer a drink special as an extra traffic incentive.
Painting and alcohol are a surprisingly amazing combination. A paint night will require a bit more planning and a larger budget. You’ll need to provide the paint supplies, the music, and an area for people to make their art.
If you want, you can also hire a painting instructor. Remember to lay down a tarp and charge a suitable entrance fee.
Encourage some friendly competition with a bar Olympics. Offer a variety of bar games like beer pong, darts, trivia, etc, and offer the winner an awesome prize.
Stand Up Comedy
Stand-up comedy, especially amateur stand-up comedy, is guaranteed to bring in a good-sized crowd. You’ll need to prepare a stage and mic, as well as seating and food for the crowd. You can partner with a local restaurant to provide the catering.
Lastly, decide if you want good comedy or funny comedy. For good comedy, vet the comedians and invite only the best. For funny comedy, let anyone who wants to give it a try sign up.
Costume Theme Night
People take any chance to dress up. Unfortunately, as we get older, we are presented with the chances less and less.
Host a themed costume night. Create a set theme, put up decorations and choose music that matches, and offer prizes to the best-dressed people.
Singles or Couples Night
Attract local love birds to your bar with a singles or couples' night. Make sure the crowd knows exactly what you’re offering: for singles, the chance to meet other singles; for couples, the chance to spend quality time together, away from family and obligations.
Big local events are cash cows for local bars. The event has already drawn the crowd. You just need to provide the space for them to keep the party going.
Whether the party is official or unofficial, make sure to market the afterparty specifically for that crowd. Put up digital and physical posters, and send some people into the crowd to promote your bar with flyers.
Increasing foot traffic and boosting bar sales with events is not only effective, but it’s also fun. It’s a great way of cultivating a great reputation and establishing partnerships with other local industries. Use the above tips and event ideas to fill your events calendar and host the best local events.
Speaking of events calendars: manage your events efficiently and increase sales by 40% with Perfect Venue event management software. Get organized and try our free trial today.