10 Best Promotional Event Ideas for Cafes, Bars and Restaurants

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Promotional events are a trusty old tool in the marketing tool-belt for the hospitality industry. Ranging from regular happy hours to one-off, pulling-out-all-stops parties, these events have been used to entice customers through venue doors for years.

Now, in the age of social media, the promotional effects of special events can be two-fold. The event itself makes the usual positive impact on the people who are there – increased patronage, good branding, encouraging repeat customers – but it also now has a ripple effect on social media on the people who weren’t there.

Your party, themed night, holiday extravaganza, or whatever other event you decide to host, is the ultimate in user generated content. People posting pictures on social media of themselves having the time of their life at your venue? That’s social media marketing gold. Whatever promo event you run, you want it splashed all over social media.


There’s a huge variety of promotional event ideas for restaurants, bars, and cafes. Of course, your first priority is to throw an event that people want to go to and that fills up your venue. Then, your next priority should be to make your event Instagram-able, Facebook-able, and Tweet-able.

Here are the 10 best promotional event ideas for having maximum impact on social media:

Have a Fancy Party

Basically, you want people to take photos that they’ll upload to social media. So, you want them out of the ordinary, doing something fun, unusual, or funny that they’ll want to share with the world.

Host a Black-tie Event

See above. Whether it’s black tie, cocktail, formal – anything where people dress up and look their best – they will want to share pictures of themselves dressed to the nines.

Throw a Holiday Celebration

New Year’s Eve, Halloween, 4th of July, Cinco de Mayo… Throwing parties for any holiday is great, especially if it’s one where people get dressed up and/or particularly like to party and show the world how they celebrate.

Provide a Backdrop for Photos

It needn’t necessarily even be branded (although if it is that’s extra exposure for your business), but providing a fun backdrop for photos encourages people to take and upload photos. Try things like a red carpet, a photo booth, photo props, or a red carpet style backdrop.


Create an Event Hashtag

Let everyone at the promotional event know about the hashtag and get them to use it. People scrolling at home can then look at the whole collection of photos from the night and can get the full effect of how awesome your party was and how must-visit your bar is.

Upload Your Own Photos of the Event

Guests will love looking through them, liking, sharing, and commenting.

Get People to Check-in

Regardless of whether you’re throwing a massive, one-off party or a regular, low-key morning tea, provide an incentive for people to check in. Have a door prize or a raffle which people can win by checking in at your venue.

Incorporate Social Media Into Your Quiz Night

Give bonus points for teams whose picture (hashtagged with your hashtag) gets the most likes by the final round. Or put a clue for a cryptic question on your Facebook page. Anything that requires punters to get online and spread your word is great.


Bring Other Local Businesses On Board

Whether it’s a wine-and-cheese night, a chocolate appreciation session, a gin tasting, or anything in between, gather other local businesses together to show off your wares together. Reach out to the companies who supply your food and beverages to join forces. This is great cross-promotion on their social media pages as well.

Allow a Charity to Use Your Venue for Their Own Fundraiser

This isn’t technically your own promotional event, but it does promote your café, bar, or restaurant through increased exposure to new people. It also does wonders for your image as everyone will appreciate how generous you are.

There’s a wide array of promotional event ideas, and you can choose to approach it whichever way suits your brand and your business best. Whatever event you choose to throw, just make sure it’s impossible for punters not to post about it on social media!

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