Category Archives: Marketing

4 Ways to Build Your Bar with Guest Data

Do you know who your guests are? The ones who frequent your venue, who spend a lot of money, and who would be considered “loyal?” Many venues think they do, but few have the full picture.

Recognizing your guests’ faces or even their names is just the start. Imagine knowing how many times they’ve been to your bar or club, how many reservations they’ve made, how much money they’ve spent at the bar, and what their most popular drink purchases are. That’s valuable information, and that’s what’s going to propel you forward. And an ID scanning system tied to your point of sale is just what’s going to get you there. Not only does this increase your security and reduce your liability, but it also acts as the driving force behind building loyalty with your guests.

Here’s what you can uncover when you know your guests on a deeper level.

1. Better identify guests

I’ve been to bars that didn’t know which guests made up the biggest volume of sales. I’ve been to nightclubs where high-profile guests were stopped at the door by the bouncer and denied access, purely from the fact that the bouncer didn’t recognize that guest. This lack of understanding, communication, and identification is a threat to your venue. In the first instance, you’re losing out on increasing the average cost per transaction from that guest by not identifying the opportunity. In the second instance, not only did you not make money from that person that night, but that person is infinitely less likely to return to your venue. In an industry driven by providing great hospitality, knowing your guests is essential to maximizing your revenue.

2. Upsell guests before they walk through your doors

With the right ID scanning system, you’re able to collect data on all of your guests. This goes well beyond their name, age and other demographic information. We’re talking behavioral data. Notice it’s their 5th time coming in this month? Comp their first drink. Is it a regular attendee from your bar crowd? Upsell them to a VIP table right then and there, thanking them for their loyalty and letting them know you think they would enjoy their experience more this way. They’ll be more likely after this experience to continue to be a high value customer, become more loyal to your venue, and refer friends.

3. Provide personalized service

Your guests expect personalized service. They get it from nearly every other industry, so your business is no exception to them. When you have access to behavioral data, you uncover key insights that allow you to provide this level of personalized service your guests have come to expect — how often that guests comes, what time of day they check in, how many visits they’ve had this month, what types of events or promotions drive them there, the list goes on. It’s with this information that you’re able to reward your guests for doing what they’re already doing — simply showing up — and begin to offer them personalized service well after they walk through your door.

4. Improve marketing efforts

When you combine an ID scanning system, a CRM system, and a point of sale system, you become unstoppable with your marketing. Now you have a database of rich guest information that combines meaningful demographic information with invaluable behavioral information. Use this information to send targeted, personal and relevant messages to individual guests. You can hyper target your digital ads directly to a segment of customers with a message that speaks 100% to them. You can segment your database into specific audiences and send a text message offer just to them. You no longer have to mass blast generic promotions into the unknown. When messages are personal and specific, it increases your marketing ROI so you can continue to reinvest in the actions that build your business.

Two Birds, One Stone: Reduce Liability & Increase Loyalty

Checking IDs is commonly considered a necessary evil of serving alcohol.

It’s not sexy. It’s not exciting. It’s just a step in the process. But this step can actually be turned into a huge asset to your bar or nightclub, especially with the right technology.

When you shift your thinking and equip yourself with the right tools, this very basic step becomes both your internal liability program as well as your external customer loyalty program.

The Legal Aspect

The liability and security side of checking IDs is always the most top-of-mind, particularly when it comes to verifying whether a guest is of age to drink. And from that aspect alone, having your staff manually review IDs is sufficient. But your liability decreases drastically when you equip that staff member with an ID scanning system. Here’s why:

  • It reduces the chances of honest human errors. Humans make mistakes even with the best intentions, such as incorrectly calculating someone’s age based on their date of birth. Having a quick license scan double verifies the guest’s age with a simple color coded alert of whether they’re over 21 or under 21. It makes it foolproof even under high stress situations.
  • It assists with easily passing stings. When authorities are checking to make sure you’re compliant, they legally cannot do so by using a fake ID or purposefully deceiving you. That means most stings are a result of incorrect math or laziness. Having a policy with an ID scan system corrects any mental mistakes and confirms all IDs are reviewed.
  • It aids in detecting fakes. Fake IDs are getting more complex, so having an ID scan system is just one more layer in the process of detecting a fake. Plus, in a worse-case scenario when you accidentally serve a minor, having a digital system is your paper trail to prove to authorities you didn’t purposefully serve that person and did the best of your ability to be compliant.
  • It digitally tracks your 86 list. Your seasoned staff may know immediately if a guest is banned and shouldn’t be let in, but your new employees likely won’t. Rather than memorizing a photo book of those who aren’t allowed, an ID scan system will automatically alert your employee if a guest is banned from the venue. Plus, if an incident occurs during the night, your staff can easily add that guest to your ban list so you always have the most up-to-date information to maintain a safe environment.
  • It alerts you of potentially unruly patrons. Some ID scan systems, like us at Vēmos, allows you to opt into a city-wide ban list. This means you’ll be alerted if a guest is banned at a nearby location along with the reason they were banned. You then use this information to make educated decisions on whether or not you want to let that guest into your venue.

  • Maintaining a secure environment minimizes costs associated with insurance, repairs, fines, and enforcement. What’s more is it provides an enjoyable atmosphere for your guests, which translates to a more profitable establishment. Which leads to the next aspect: loyalty.

    The Loyalty Aspect

    The not-so-obvious side of an ID scanning system is that it can become your loyalty program. And it can serve you better than most standalone loyalty programs can. Why? Because every guest needs to have their ID to drink. Not every guest is going to have your loyalty card or app. In fact, few consumers today want to have a separate loyalty card for every establishment they ever visit, so you’ll only capture a small percentage of your daily patrons.

    With an ID scanning system, you’re able to collect data on all of your guests. This goes well beyond their name, age and other demographic information. We’re talking behavioral data — how often that guests comes, what time of day they check in, how many visits they’ve had this month, what types of events or promotions drive them there, the list goes on. And when you connect your ID scanning system to your point of sale system, you unlock a whole new layer of behavioral information. Not to mention you get a ton of invaluable insights on what factors drives your business and which triggers to pull to repeat that business.

    It’s with this information that you’re able to reward your guests for doing what they’re already doing — simply showing up — and begin to offer them personalized service based on their habits. Notice it’s their 5th time coming in this month? Comp their first drink. Haven’t seen them in a while? Reach out to them about a special you think they’d enjoy. It’s these types of actions that build connections between consumers and brands, and drive true loyalty to your establishment.

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    Tips for Hosting a Profitable Event

    The fall through the end of the year is typically the busiest time of the year in the nightlife industry. It’s a heavily event-driven season, with all the holidays and celebratory moments driving people to spend more time out with their friends. Fortunately, hosting events is one of the best ways to get people through your door. And it can be a serious money maker for your business if you take the time to plan it out, get everything in place, and throw a good party.

    Here is a 5-step plan to set you up for success when hosting an event so you don’t end up owing more than you make.

    1. Plan your event

    Sounds obvious, but I’ve seen a lot of events getting thrown together without a ton of thought, and those are typically the events that end up with a financial loss. That’s why taking planning is one of the most important aspects of throwing an event. You need to first identify what you want to get out of the event, and plan accordingly to achieve it. The best questions to answer during this step are:

  • What is your goal?
  • What is your budget, and how much can you spend in each area of the event?
  • Who is your audience and what are they interested in?
  • Is this going to be an event tied to a holiday or time of year? Could be a great opportunity to have a comprehensive theme.
  • How will you get the word out about this event?

  • Once you answer these questions, you have a better way of moving forward. You know exactly how many promoters you need, what staff members are responsible for, how much money you can spend on talent, what type of talent you need to hire, if you can offer drink specials – the list goes on. All the details easily start to come together once these bigger questions are outlined.

    2. Hire the right talent

    Talent is a big portion of what lures people into your venue. But you need to make sure you hire the right talent. Do your guests prefer a headlining DJ or a local band? What type of lighting and sound equipment do you need to enhance the experience for your guests? After all, the people you are throwing the event for should define the event’s path. Know what your audience wants and what they’ll pay to attend. And above all else, stay within the budget you allotted in step 1 to maximize your profits and achieve your goal.

    3. Generate revenue, even before the day of the event

    We’re talking about pre-sales. Every event or venue, regardless of size, benefits from the pre-sale of tickets and inventory. The best way to sell tickets in advance is to get everyone on board with a single platform. There are platforms available that allow you to create and manage an online event page, publish the page for consumers to purchase tickets, have the page integrate with a mobile app for promoters to sell tickets directly from their devices, and track ticket sales and results along the way. This type of platform syncs all promoters and marketing efforts together to maximize ticket sales and revenue.

    4. Be a good party host

    Your event efforts must continue, and perhaps even spike, during the night of the event. Treat everyone like VIPs, from the bottle buyer to the general admission guest. Focus on service levels and make them feel appreciated no matter what. Your guests will not only continually come back, but they’ll also tell everyone they know about their experience. This sets you up for success for the long run.

    5. Analyze results to better prepare for the next event

    The only way to know whether your event was a success is to analyze the data. Systems like Vēmos combine all your data from across your venue into one dashboard, so you know exactly who made up your sales and what they bought. Which marketing campaigns brought people to pre-buy their tickets? At what time did your sales start trending upwards? What time of the night did the majority of your guests check in? How much did a general admission guest spend at the bar? Was your labor to sales ratio what you expected it to be? And most importantly, what could you do differently next time to do even better? Optimization is key to long-term success, but you can’t optimize if you don’t have the system that provides the answers to all these questions. The more you know, the better your results.

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    Produce Big Results with a Small 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’e getting in return. And oftentimes, that’s exactly what happens. You put out messages and promotions as a necessary evil; just something you have to do to gain awareness. But do you know the impact those actions have on your business? If the answer is no, then it’s time to make some changes to see your marketing as an investment, and not an expense.

    I believe that any marketing initiative – no matter the budget – has the opportunity to see big results. I’ve seen this to be true throughout my career in working with large corporations with infinite budgets, startups with no budget, non-profits with limited budgets, and nightlife venues with budgets across that spectrum. And through it all, I’ve come to believe two truths:

  • 1) Data is the engine behind a successful marketing initiative
  • 2) The best story wins

  • Yet, I rarely see these two truths in action in our industry.

    I see the same thing time and again — venues blasting out messages that aren’t enticing, aren’t actionable, aren’t geared toward a specific audience, and are nearly impossible to track. With this approach, there’s no way to connect the dots between what you’re pushing out there, how it engages your audience (the best story wins) and how it affects your business (data is your engine).

    So how do you become savvy and flip your marketing from an expense to an investment?
    You take a step back and look at the big picture.

    The Big Picture
    This step is especially important when working with a small budget. Every action matters if we have limited cash to put toward marketing. Most of us narrow down the concept of marketing into promotions, or more specifically, communication/advertising. When in reality, that’s only a subset of marketing. Marketing as a whole is comprised of four parts: product, price, place, and promotion.

    If you send out promotions that aren’t backed by the rest of the marketing mix, they aren’t going to result in anything meaningful. It might work sometimes, but you’re unable to see how it works and what effect it truly has. When all of your marketing works together, you’re able to make your campaigns as effective as possible. And once you have the big picture nailed down, you’re able to go a step further and tie your marketing into your overall business objectives.

    With this in mind, it’s time to start your marketing efforts from the top-down. It’s with this strategy that we start to see big results emerge from campaigns, even with the smallest of budgets.

    1. Identify your business objective with a tangible goal
    The first step is to figure out what you want to achieve as a business. Marketing that isn’t backed by business objectives is almost always seen as a waste. More often than not, venues conduct marketing so that they can increase their revenue. That’s a solid business objective, and there’s many others out there. The important part is to identify what you want out of your business.

    Once you have your objective, you then need to understand at what level it would be deemed a success. So you need a goal to tie along with your objective, which means a quantifiable number that can be measured within a given time range. For example, if increased revenue is your objective, then a goal may be to drive up total revenue by 10% within six months.

    2. Uncover your data to help you find the right marketing mix
    Now that you have your goal ironed out and tied to your business objective, how do you make sure your efforts affect it? You need to understand what your starting point is. When you don’t have great insight into what factors make up your revenue, it’s hard to define what products to promote at what price point using which messages on which channels. This just puts you back in the bucket of doing blind marketing and hoping it does something.

    But how do you uncover your data? You put the right tools in place so you can collect it and gain insights. The best way I’ve seen this done is to connect your point of sale system with an ID scanning system to uncover not only what your sales are and your product mix, but to also identify who it is that’s making up those sales. It gives you a more accurate look at your cost per person, average cost per transaction, and the demographic that’s behind it all. And when it’s all tied back to one central system, you’re able to humanize this data so that it becomes a buyer persona to work with. Companies like Vēmos automate this process for you, and provide insight into what your data points are telling you. This helps you identify what triggers to pull to affect your objective.

    3. Define marketing strategies to reach your goal
    You have your objective tied to a goal, you have data that drives insights. Now it’s time to put marketing into action. Now’s the most important time to remember the entire marketing mix and ways you can use all of it to drive results.

    Sticking with the revenue objective, we often think the solution is to get more bodies in the room. But what happens when you have nights that you’re at capacity, and more people isn’t a realistic solution? That’s where other areas of the marketing mix come into play. Now it’s about getting the same people to spend more money than they already are, getting different people who will spend more money, or increasing other nights that are slower.

    Looking at the entire marketing mix, you could get the same people to spend more money by slightly increasing your drink prices. Remember, price is a fourth of the marketing mix, and is one you could easily dabble in. If you discover that the majority of people order rail drinks, you could increase your price by $.50. What would this do for you? Let’s say you have 10,000 guests who order 1 rail drink. If you increase the price by $.50, you now make $5,000 more, just on that action alone. What if all 10,000 guests got upsold to a signature cocktail or a better brand that’s $2 more? Now you’ve made $20,000 more with that action.

    This is just one example using one section of the marketing mix. You can create a Facebook ad that targets the specific demographic you’d rather have attending your venue. You could identify a need in your market for a standing Tuesday event, and create promotions around it to increase a slower night. There are many different ways to go about achieving your objective. I always suggest starting small so you can try a few different things to see what works and what doesn’t before putting a ton of money behind it. Think of it as operating in a lab; always benchmarking your efforts against your goals and iterating over time.

    4. Track your efforts and stay agile
    How do you know your marketing strategies are working? You track every action every step of the way. Use systems at your door to account for each guest that walks through. Use lead generation tools on your website – like a guestlist, reservation form, or pre-sale ticket – to collect guest information ahead of time. Look at your dashboard to see how all your datapoints interact together and what story it’s telling you.

    Remember, data is the engine behind a successful marketing campaign. Is a certain initiative not working for you? Stop doing it. Is something making a drastic difference? Fuel it by putting more money behind it. Measurement and agility are the two most important factors in ensuring continuous success with your efforts. Without data, you’re simply guessing and wasting all the energy you spent in the first three steps.

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    Step Up Your Game in 2018

    The end of the year is coming to a close, which means you’re most likely gearing up for your New Year’s Eve party. But in the midst of all this, it’s also the time to a assess your business and set your venue up for even more success in the coming year.

    We’re at this critical juncture as an industry of keeping up with the demands of customers, the expectations of general consumers, and continuing with everyday business to keep things afloat. It’s a lot to manage, especially with the busy holiday season.

    But in 2018, we as an industry can’t afford to keep pushing out implementing new practices. There have been articles for the past few years claiming nightlife is dying. I disagree. I believe society is evolving, and we’re not evolving with it. We aren’t dying; we’re falling behind.

    Think about the experiences your customers have in every other industry. Retail, online entertainment, even coffee shops have all shifted to cater to individual needs based on timing and past habits. Retail stores send emails suggesting items you might like because of what you’ve bought in the past. Amazon reminds you of when you’re likely due to re-buy a household item. Netflix suggests a show you should watch based on what’s trending and what you’ve previously enjoyed. Starbucks knows once you get into the store what they should offer to up-sell you based on your tastes and budget. All of these industries start with tracking your behavior so they can later reach out on a very personal level to get you to spend even more. It’s personal. It’s data-driven. And that’s where we’re falling behind in the nightlife industry.

    In 2018, it’s no longer about opening your doors and assuming people will walk in. It’s about guaranteeing people will walk in, and the right people at that. But just like very other industry, it starts with tracking your customers’ behavior. And I mean every customer, not just your VIPs.

    Fortunately, tracking your guests is fairly simple with the right system. It shouldn’t add a ton of new processes to your staff, nor take up much more additional time to collect the data. The best solution is a system that has ID scanning, POS integration, and a CRM system at the core of its functionality. Solutions like Vēmos is built with these three at its core, combined with general admission, guest list, tickets, and reservation management features. The reason having the core is important is because you’re now able to track every guest who walks through your door, including their spending habits once inside.

    Take this example: It’s Friday night, and it’s Lucy’s first time at your venue.

  • You scan Lucy’s ID with the system to verify legality, but because you’re using a system backed by a CRM system, you have now created her personal guest profile in your database.
  • Lucy then goes to check in with the general admission cashier to pay cover. You now know Lucy is a general admission guest who has paid $20 to get inside, bringing her lifetime value up to $20.
  • Lucy goes to the bar and orders a vodka tonic. The next time she orders a martini. Every time she places an order, it’s added to her guest profile because your system is integrated with your POS and is backed by a CRM system. Her lifetime value in her guest profile rises every time she orders.
  • Lucy comes back with 5 friends as a guest list customer the following Friday. You scan her ID to verify legality, and are notified that this is her second time at the venue and she’s worth $x. You notice she’s brought more people with her. You thank her for coming back and bringing more guests to your venue. This provides personalization and gives her that specialized treatment.

  • Now that you have Lucy’s profile and see that it’s building over time, you’re able to amplify her experience. Does she keep coming back every week as a GA or guest list guest? Upgrade her to a reservation and start her off with a bottle of champagne to thank her for her loyalty. Is there a new concert coming up that you think she’d like? Send her an email or text message to buy a ticket before the concert is unveiled to the rest of the public. Do you think there’s a craft cocktail she’d like better that would earn you more revenue? Promote it to her.

    Because you started with collecting and tracking behavior, you’re now able to later reach out with personal messages to get your guests to come more often and spend even more once they’re there. This is what is going to get you to level up to other experiences in other industries.

    It’s no longer sufficient to make assumptions on how your venue is performing and who your guests are. It’s also no longer sufficient to just focus on the data from one area of your business. It’s about taking a comprehensive approach that provides insight into all of your guests. After all, the more you know, the more you can do. And with a new year approaching, it’s time to garner even better results and higher revenue than the previous year.