Bring in More Bar Customers by Hosting these Activities

Your great drink selection speaks for itself, and your bartenders are top-notch. You also have an awesome bar menu, if you don’t say so yourself. So where are all the customers?

People come to bars to have fun, so between the alcohol and the company, one would think that patrons would be able to entertain themselves. However, the truth is that customers sometimes need a little help getting the ball rolling. It’s to your benefit if they have such a great time that they stick around for another round, spread the word, and keep coming back. That’s why offering a range of activities or events throughout the week is a smart way to draw new customers in and keep existing customers around.

Here are some suggested activities you can try hosting throughout the week or month, or just a few times a year:

1. Live Music/ Live D.J.

You know your patrons and their tastes. You may also know what their talents are. Some of your regulars may be in a band or sing or play an instrument. Many aspiring musicians and amateurs will perform just for the thrill of having an audience – or for whatever tips customers feel like contributing. Don’t assume that live entertainment is out of the question just because you don’t have a budget for it.

2. Karaoke

Just because you’re not a talented singer doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t enjoy singing. As we all know, one drink may be all it takes for some people to be willing to do so in public. Deciding whether you want to charge a dollar for each song or to give out one song ticket per drink is up to you. If karaoke draws in a big crowd, then a free sign-up will more than pay off, however.

3. Readings/ Open Mic

Just like singers, writers also love having an audience. If you’re lucky enough to have local talent in search of additional exposure, great. However, offering an open mic is also an option. Trying out new material on a live audience is essential for aspiring comedians, so hosting a comedy open mic can be a real hit.

4. Game Night

Don’t have a thriving artists’ community where you live? No aspiring singers (not even bad ones)? Nightly activities at your bar don’t necessarily need to be so specialized. Almost everyone loves playing games, and they love it even more when good friends and great drinks are around.

Even the simplest games, when scheduled for specific nights of the week, can draw in a thirsty crowd. Trivia night will do, or you can always switch things up a bit by following the Jeopardy “in the form of a question” rule. Believe it or not, one bar in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn has been hosting a wildly successful “spelling bee for adults” for the past decade! Nerds and drinkers unite!

5. Speed Dating/ Singles Nights

Speed dating groups always need a venue. No speed dating group in town? No problem, so long as you at least have singles! Meeting new people in bars the old-fashioned way can be a drag. Who wants to just sit there and try to figure out who should make the first move? Having singles nights events may keep some of your patrons from giving up – on both love in general and the scene at your bar in particular.

6. Hash Hound Harriers

If you’ve seen runners in the neighborhood, there may also be a Hash Hound Harriers (HHH) group nearby. The organization has a funny name and a long history, but basically they pride themselves as being “drinkers with a running problem.” Put simply, HHH groups hold regular running events that always involve visiting bars. What more could you ask for? There’s a whole gang of them, they’re thirsty, they’re already having a great time, and they probably aren’t afraid to indulge a bit after burning all those calories.

Regardless of the activity, you can always stipulate a mandatory two-drink minimum if you’re afraid the activity and the company alone won’t keep the drink orders coming. Remember, non-drinkers don’t need to order a beverage that contains alcohol.

The list of potential activities that bring customers into bars is just about endless. Talk to your patrons and find out what interests them. Keep an eye on what’s going on around town as well. Many things build your business’ reputation, and good times should be one of them!

Josh Saunders