Happy hours are as ingrained in the Australian culture as the 40 hour working week. In fact, for some people, you can’t have one without the other. A consequence of prohibition in the US, happy hours were initially simple group meet-ups in speakeasies or illegal bars prior to heading out for dinner. The “happy” in happy hour was simply a reference to the buzz you got from the pre-dinner moonshine.
From humble beginnings, happy hours have become a worldwide institution. They offer licensed venues the opportunity to get people in at slower times of the day (particularly in the late afternoon/post-work period), in the hope that the patrons will get stuck to their bar stools and continue to be merry into the evening.
The problem with happy hours being an institution is that it can be relatively hard to stand out from the crowd. While a simple “2 for 1” offer or $5 schooner may represent great value, every other venue on the street is doing the exact same thing. How are you going to stand out?
Here are just a few proven promotions that could see your venue experiencing some serious happy hour success.
Late Night Happy Hour
Who says happy hour has to be saved for the nine to five crowd? Many pubs, clubs and bars would benefit far more from repositioning their happy hour to a later timeslot, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights.
Late night happy hours get punters in from 10pm with the lure of bargain drink specials. If your establishment gets the majority of its patrons after midnight, enticing them with drink specials earlier could be exactly what you need to get the party started. Remember; a happy hour is just a means to get people in the door before your busiest period. That may well be dinner time, but it could equally be 1am. Your happy hour should reflect that.
A Happy Hour Food Menu
A happy hour needn’t revolve purely around drinks. A special happy hour food menu, with discounted tapas, appetizers and bar snacks can be just as popular as a cheap pint. Why not test one out, with items that don’t appear on your menu elsewhere? This makes your happy hour a truly unique and valuable experience.
It must be remembered, though, that the purpose of a happy hour is to funnel customers into the next part of your day. If that next part is dinner, then you don’t want to go too heavy on the fare, as appetites will be spoiled. For your happy hour, be sure to discount the opposite product than the one that represents your major profit center, be that food or drink.
By its very nature, happy hour is a group activity. It’s an opportunity for colleagues or friends to shake off the stresses of the day, and have a laugh. Groups are fantastic for business as well; the more people, the more money that will end up in your tills. So you shouldn’t just be ready for large groups to hit up your happy hour, you should actively encourage it.
Bundle items, offering discounts on bulk food orders or pitchers of drink. Price these specials in a per person way, to help highlight the benefits of buying as a group. To help pump the numbers up, you could even offer a discount on group size, using something like a “$3 off the bill for every person sitting at the table” style deal.
Put on a Show
Sure, cheap food and drink will get the turnstiles ticking over, but to turn the trickle into a stampede, it may be worth considering your atmosphere.
Using a bit of entertainment to bring happy hour customers in could be the best way to separate your establishment from the competition. A live band, a quiz night, karaoke, bingo; these simple entertainment options bring an X-factor to your happy hour that will set you apart.
Getting your happy hour right can be an absolute boon for anyone in the hospitality industry. While you may not make a huge amount of money during the happy hour period, the resulting overflow could turn every one of your establishment’s opening hours into a happy one!