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How to get the most out of sports events for your bar and restaurant business

The Champions League, the World Cup, Wimbledon, the Olympics. Who wouldn’t want to be holding a beer at their local cheering on their favorite team or athlete during these events? Sports offer a huge opportunity for bars and restaurants to draw in new and old customers and it would be a loss not to capitalize on these occasions. That is why, as bar and restaurant owners, you should be in on the sports fever, staying closely abreast of when sports events happen, and thinking of how you can promote them in your business. Sports happen year-round and they can thus guarantee you more revenue, no matter the season, if done right. 

So, once you’ve got your sorts calendar in hand, here are a few tips to consider for how best to get the most out of feature each game in your establishment. 

Creating buzz

Businesses often have all-manner of ways to showcase how they might be previewing the upcoming match. The idea here is to create buzz and bring in those customers -  whether they are up to speed and raging fans or not. One way is that you may want to consider transforming a dedicated area of your business for a screening so clientele get excited by the prospect of the game and make a mental note that that is where they will be. Next, how about posting a chalkboard with scores or upcoming match dates outside, and posting these details on your social media and website platforms? Give yourself ample time so you can properly prepare -  would a special drink deal help promote the event, would decorations catch interested eyes, how about a wear your team color for a discount or start a bar fantasy football league? As part of this effort, you should think about a more integrated marketing strategy as well. The idea being to individualize and entice customers any way you can, each game at a time, and be sure to back it up online. 

Apps & social media that notify where to go to watch the game

Interested in tonight’s polo, rugby, tennis, or football? Increasingly, Tripadvisor, MatchPint and Yelp and other apps are listing pubs and bars that are screening sports nearby. As a business owner, this is a fantastic way to spread the word about events happening at your particular establishment. Often, it's free and an easy endorsement for you to attract those in your area. The surest way is to contact the company directly or more convincingly, have someone write a review. Was your last year’s World Cup event a raving success? Post pictures with a catchy, entertaining Tripadvisor write-up and you will see an increase in foot traffic in no time.  

Similarly, it goes without saying that promoting your event on your website and social media (Facebook, Twitter...etc) should be done early and often. People do check online before visiting an establishment and the die-hard fans will want to know that you’re in on the fever and will get excited if you’ve got something special up your sleeve for them (like promotions or 2 for 1 drinks). So don’t hold back on spreading the word far and wide online before the event. 

What’s a team without a fan? 

Fans are where the money and the actual game in is in televised sports. It's why advertisers spend so much money and players have those sky-high salaries. Indeed, sports would be a different game if no one was watching. In this vein, as a business owner, you want to focus on what the fans want and bring. No matter the sport, think about what it is that gets fans involved. For instance, put up team specific banners, put on a sports-centric memorabilia sweepstake, refer to past games, launch a historical trivia game or prepare a team fact sheet to get those invested fans even more nostalgic about the love of the game. Chances are the more dedicated fans will try and one-up each other with their data on teams and past games, and that translates to them sticking around for more and more pints and food. You want your establishment to be part of the sports, the history and the sentimentality of it all. 

Where to sit?

Sometimes where you sit to watch a game doesn’t matter too much depending on the sport. Just air that sporting event, get a cold one and folks  are good to go, even standing up. But, naturally, this can all depend on the actual sport too. Some sports might merit a wide-screen, a stand alone projector, or a special seating area depending on the popularity of the event and the sport itself. As a result, you might want to think about seating. Does it suffice to simply move chairs around or does a dedicated area work as a better arrangement? These are important questions which can naturally be changed up from night to night or event to event, but it is something you want to think about as it will make your customers more comfortable and more likely to stay and spend! In summer months, you should think about heading outside, if you do indeed have an outdoor space to accommodate.  

Remember,  sports fans are going to want to get together somewhere and you want it to be your establishment. Similarly, don’t be afraid to catch those walk-ins who may not be die-hard fans, but who might just want to catch the finals or semi-finals so they don’t look like fools the next day in the office. At the end of the day, sports attract, so just don’t miss out. We hope these tips get your thinking -  and winning like a champ - business owner.

Jessica Brown
Jessica is a globally renowned writer specializing in International Relations, Economics and Political Affairs. A graduate from Brown and Cambridge Universities she now focuses on helping small to medium businesses grow their bottom line.
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