The sun goes down, the kids go to bed, and the adults get ready to hit the streets. Whether it’s to hang out with old friends, meet new people, grab a drink, or have a good time after a stressful week, people love to party.
The question is: how do you get these people to come to your bar, restaurant, or club? It’s not enough to just serve good food and drinks, you need to entice people to think that your place is the place to be. For many, weekends are a precious thing, and they don’t want to spend a single second of it at a boring bar or a dead restaurant.
If you’re looking to break into the nightlife market and become a hot spot in your local scene, here’s some tips to do it the right way.
Picking the Right Nightlife Niche
Different demographics party their own ways. Teenagers are going to be interested in a very different experience than some 50-year-olds. Your target market is going to influence everything you do to break into the nightlife business, so picking an audience is essential.
If your restaurant already has a following, a good place to start is looking at your current customers. What demographic trends do you notice? This is a good audience to start tailoring your nightlife activities for. They are already comfortable with your business and will be more willing to give your nightlife side a try.
It’s also important to look at who your competitors would be in the area and what niches they serve. If you’ve got multiple nightclubs and bars serving the needs of younger Millennials, instead of competing directly for that same audience, look at pursuing a different demographic.
Picking the Right Events and Doing Them Right
When it comes to hitting up the town, painting the streets red, people want to do stuff. If they were looking to just hang out, people would just stay home, head over to a friend’s place, or hit up their favorite bar.
But good nightlife isn’t about just hanging out, it’s about doing stuff, gaining new experiences, and having a good time. It’s your job to come up with stuff for them to do.
Part of joining the nightlife scene is providing an activity or event for people to attend. It’s why many clubs and bars host live music, have trivia nights, or throw extravagant parties. People aren’t likely to spend all night at your business just because you are open, you need to provide entertainment.
With any event you host, you need to make sure you have the means of throwing them well. If you want to have live music, you’ll need a stage, a good sound system, proper lighting, and good musicians. If you want dancing, you’ll need enough open space for a dance floor. Running a speed dating event means plenty of space for mingling, easy to navigate tables, and somebody experienced in managing such an event.
Matching Your Atmosphere to the Event
Atmosphere plays a huge role in a successful nightlife business. Have the wrong atmosphere, and it won’t matter how cool your entertainment is, people won’t have a good time. Imagine going to a dance party inside a Taco Bell or a trivia night in a nightclub. It just wouldn’t feel right.
This might mean either updating your atmosphere in general to be more inclusive to a party crowd or finding a way to switch between your normal dining mood to a party mood later in the evening. Simple things like lighting changes, new music, changes in table centerpieces and basic decorations can transform a place.
You could also change your atmosphere in a more permanent way and meld both your daytime and nighttime atmosphere. For example, if part of your nightlife plans include an outdoor area and you’re looking for a more romantic mood, decorative outdoor fireplaces could be just the thing you need. They decorate during the day, making your establishment look nicer, and add a nice atmospheric touch in the evening.
Marketing Your Events
Once you’ve picked an event, you have to market it. Get the word out. If nobody shows up, or only a handful come, it won’t be a success. You can start by posting about it on your social media and website, but don’t just stop there.
Create strategies to help get the word out to as many people as you can. Tell all your guests who come during the day (consider giving them an incentive to come) and openly advertise it both inside and outside of your restaurant. When people think about your restaurant, they need to start associating not just their dining experience, but also your late evening activities.
Another great way to raise awareness is with local social media influencers. By working directly with them, you can get the attention of a lot of people in your area to your event. It’s one thing to get an influencer to simply post about it, but if you could get them to attend the event and then post while there, even better.
As word begins to spread, be sure to play a role in it, especially on social media. Actively answer questions people have, respond to compliments and complaints, and share videos or pictures people put up. If you have any musicians, performers, or hosts as a part of your entertainment, work with them to get both your followers and theirs to come out.
Don’t be surprised if your first few events don’t go great. It takes time for word to spread and to get a good handle on which audiences to pursue. But with smart marketing, diligent work, and improvement overtime, you could create the next night time hotspot in your area.