The summer months are a catalyst for elevating your venue’s offerings, and is what sets the stage of what customers can expect from you all the way through to the end of the year. When you win customers over in the summer, the chances of you getting them back during the booming fall and winter months is even higher. After all, these days people need to see consistent positive experiences to build their trust and loyalty with companies. So while last year’s summer trends were all about enhancing the summer mood with events, cocktails, and polished marketing, this year is all about experiences. And you can thank millennials for that.
1. Experiences > Possessions
The millennial generation is driving change across all industries, including nightlife. Defined between the ages of 18-35 — the prime ages to be targeting for the nightlife industry — they value experiences over physical goods, and will prioritize their money accordingly. In today’s nightlife climate, engaging your guests in new, exciting ways is the key to building a strong business. The old ways of doing business with long lines, slow bar service, and apathetic staff is no longer acceptable. This generation is going to go elsewhere to get the experience they want, and we’re no longer talking about just another venue down the street. You’re now competing with sporting events, the theater, movies, Netflix, and even vacations. 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.”
So don’t just open your doors and pray that people walk through. Think about the best possible experience you can give your guests. Create themes for your night. Be a part of bigger event opportunities. Think about ways to host interactive events. Transform your space using more design elements. People are more likely to go out when a unique experience is offered, and they’re more likely continue when that experience is personalized. Challenge yourself, get creative, and have fun with the opportunities.
2. Focus on Details
Details are an important part of the experience equation, and the lack of details can oftentimes be the driver behind a bad night. This is true for both your VIP guests and your general admission guests. Nobody wants to be treated like a number, and nobody wants to go to an establishment that feels like just another bar. Personally greet your guests at the door. Upsell general admission guests to a VIP guest if you see they visit your venue often. Send personalized marketing messages to your customers rather than mass blasting your entire database. Provide your guest with their favorite drink, or at least interact with that guest to understand what their favorite drink may be. Beyond the customer service details, make sure your bar area, decor, and other areas your venue are also treated with a detailed eye. All of this goes a long way in creating that experience.
3. Cocktails & Conversations
People go out to interact with one another and engage in conversation. Yet, one of the reasons millennials mentioned for not venturing out to clubs anymore is because it’s too loud and they aren’t able to have a conversation. Perhaps this generation is boring; perhaps they’re on to something. But one thing is certain: they place the quality of their experience above all else. Couple this desire for conversations with the emergence of the cocktail renaissance, and you have a trend worth offering. The cocktail renaissance has changed the way consumers buy and enjoy alcoholic drinks, and has bred educated, experimental drinkers who would rather pay for a quality hand-made cocktail than a cheap watered-down drink. This summer, add either quintessential summer cocktails or even a signature crafted cocktails to your menu, offer a space for your guests to sip, lounge, and converse, and pay plenty of attention to the service your staff provides.
4. Festival Vibes
What goes better with summer than outdoor parties? It’s no secret that music festivals have taken over the market, popping up worldwide and attracting club-goers. Instead of competing with music festivals, join them. The beauty of festivals is the inclusive nature of the experience. Everyone gathers together to experience the music, the outdoor space, and the electric personality of the crowd. Nightclubs & bars of all sizes can capitalize on festival vibes — whether it’s a nightclub hosting an outdoor party with a big performer, or the neighborhood bars coming together to create an outdoor block party with live music. Take a note from the festival playbook and make sure you’re offering that unique experience, are pre-selling tickets to create demand, and are providing on that vision the day of the event.
5. Humanizing Data
All of the above is made more possible when you have your data at your disposal. I know, the word data makes most people cringe. That’s why it’s all about humanizing that data. You don’t want to spend your time combing through spreadsheets of data points that don’t make a ton of sense, just to try to connect the dots yourself. Instead, use a system built specifically for the nightlife industry that handles event management, tickets, reservations, guest list, and general admission while being backed by easy-to-understand data and analytics. When all of this is in the same system, you get comprehensive results to truly understand and grow your business. You get insight on how your venue is performing, what your trends are, what your best marketing channels are, and in-depth details about your guests at a click of a button. Do you see something that’s working well? Keep doing it. See something that’s not? Can it. Want to send a personalized message to anyone with a birthday this week? Do it. That’s the power of a system, that’s the power of data, and that’s what allows you to thrive as a business and stay ahead of industry trends.