Your bar is a place where people come to enjoy a drink and socialize. But with so many other bars, lounges, and nightclubs competing to pull in customers, serving drinks and having a great atmosphere isn’t enough. Your marketing strategy needs to engage customers and make a night in your bar a weekly event for your regulars.
One way that you can drive customers to your bar is with bar games. Here’s why:
- Hosting and organizing bar games for your patrons can make for a great customer experience.
- Bar games engage customers and make them stay longer and spend more.
- Interactive games bring customers to your bar even on slow nights of the week.
Here are the best bar games for your establishment:
1. Pool and Darts
Pool and darts are still two of the most popular games played in bars around the world whether you’re hosting a league or your customers are just enjoying a friendly night of competition. If you have the space, both of these games can add energy to your bar and quickly build up a group of regular clientele.
For pool, you’ll need to have available room in your bar since even smaller billiard tables take up a sizeable amount of space. You’ll also need to factor in clearance space around the table for players to use pool sticks.
Darts require less space – any free wall space out of the main traffic area will work with an official throwing line of 7 feet 9 ¼ inches. If you have the room, set up four dartboards for tournaments. Keep track of player scores and offer a gift card once a week to top players and teams.
2. Board Games
Classic board games are making a big comeback with people as they move away from digital games to the real thing. Grabbing a game, ordering a drink, and sitting around a table enjoying games they haven’t played for years will keep people in your bar for hours. Build a library of games for your customers to choose from:
Traditional board games
Traditional games are those that everyone knows and still loves to play. Keep a shelf of games that has something for everyone’s interest – you can buy these games new or pick up a used retro edition:
- Chess and Checkers
- Trivial Pursuit
Classic card games never go out of style and are fun for all ages. These games are a low-key way for your customers to spend an evening and a low-cost way for you to provide entertainment. Have a few decks of cards and cribbage boards available for these games:
- Crazy Eights
Strategy board games
Engaging for all ages, millennials in particular have embraced games of strategy. More complex and involved than traditional board or card games, strategy games have evolved over the years and will keep your customers involved for hours. Many of these games are considered to be classic Eurogames that focus on conflict and strategy centered around political and environmental themes. It may cost you more than a deck of cards to purchase a few of these strategy games, but with the trending interest in these types of games, you’ll be able to quickly recoup your investment in just a few nights.
These are some of the top-rated strategy games today:
- Game of Thrones
- Pandemic – several versions available
Another current trend in games has led to a lot of new adult-only games that get a group of people involved in fun and outrageous ways. These games are a good way to encourage separate groups of customers to join together – the more social the activity the more likely your customers will stay longer and keep coming back.
3. Classic Bar Games
Don’t have room in your bar to set up a pool table or dart boards? There are other classic table games that take up less space. These games initiate a bit of competition among your customers and can lead to friendly bets, which usually means the loser orders another round from the bar.
- Air hockey
4. Outdoor Games
Does your bar have outdoor space? Customers enjoy drinking outside when the weather is warm – why not provide them with game choices outdoors as well as in, such as:
- Ring toss
5. Drinking Games
Drinking games aren’t just popular with the university crowd – people of all ages enjoy a good drinking game that gets both the drinks and the conversation flowing.
Dice drinking games
Common at parties, dice drinking games are just as fun in the bar. These games are a great way to spice up a night and get customers to relax and loosen up. There are numerous variations, but some of the more typical dice games include:
- Six Cups
- Three Man
Customers will feel like they’re in Las Vegas when they spin the roulette wheel and land on a drink. This is another game that’s ideal for larger groups and parties that come into your bar.
You’ll need a little space out of the way for customers to play this one and not annoy your other bar customers. This is a great game for bachelor and bachelorette parties.
College drinking games
It may get a little messy, but college drinking games can increase your bar sales significantly on a slow night. Common college drinking games include Quarters, Fingers, 21, Most Likely, and Thumper.
6. Themed Game Nights
Theme nights are a good way to drive people to your bar, building excitement and getting the conversation and games flowing. Plan well ahead of time, announcing upcoming events on your website and social media – you want to give people plenty of advance notice.
Don’t limit couples night to Valentine’s Day. Host a couple’s game night, such as “Drink or Truth” or “What Do You Know About Each Other.” Prepare questions that get everyone participating and having a good time, with free drinks and a midnight snack for the winning couple.
Hosting trivia night is a great way to get more people into your bar, boost your sales, and encourage repeat customers. When people are part of a team, they’re more likely to show up week after week, with trivia night bringing in business you can rely on.
Running trivia night is easy and cost-effective without hiring expensive trivia party hosts that can charge anywhere from $200 to $400 per night. Do it yourself by coming up with the questions for numerous categories and providing teams with answer sheets to write down the correct answers. Questions can be called out by one of your employees or you can use the simplicity of setting up an overhead PowerPoint presentation with a projector.
Another alternative is to use a company that provides interactive Trivia entertainment for bars, such as Buzztime and PubQuizPro, who both have starting packages at $25
Bingo may once have been associated with seniors, but this game is a good way to attract customers of all ages. And it’s easy to host. Unlike trivia nights, which are filled with competition and excitement, Bingo moves along at a slower pace, letting your patrons relax and enjoy a drink while playing a game.
Give each customer a dauber and a few bingo cards – arrange for one of your employees to be the caller – and offer a prize for everything from the typical five-in-a-row line bingo to blackout cards to just the four corners.
Prizes can be anything from T-shirts with your bar logo to drink tokens. Keep a running board of bingo winner leaders to make the game a bit more competitive.
7. Karaoke Competition
Karaoke is always a fun part of a night out – people drinking, socializing, and singing. Take it a step further by hosting karaoke competitions with prizes for the winner and runners up. Have karaoke on slower nights, offering drink and food specials to encourage people to spend more.
You’ll need to develop a format for the competition, deciding on music categories by taking into account the demographics of your customers so you get the most participation. Be sure to promote karaoke competitions well ahead of time, giving participants time to register.
8. Poker Tournament
Poker tournaments are another popular bar game, although you’ll need to check for gambling laws where you live so you don’t violate state laws that prohibit unlicensed gambling. Once you’ve got the legalities figured out, bar poker promotes regular attendance from players in weekly tournaments so they can qualify for the finals. Fun to participate in, poker tournaments are just as much fun to watch and can fill your bar on even the slowest night of the week.
Bar games make a good customer experience even better. Your customers will be able to kick back and enjoy a drink as they socialize with friends and strangers. Games add a unique atmosphere to a bar, taking it from just a place to get a drink to a neighborhood hangout that your customers come back to again and again to have fun and unwind after a long day. Implement some of the games listed here in your marketing strategy and watch your sales increase on any night of the week.