Hosting a New Year’s Eve party at your bar or restaurant is a fun way to kick off the next decade and build your brand to entice customers to return long after the festivities are over. But when guests have so many choices—including the increasingly popular option to celebrate at home—restaurant and bar owners have to get creative in order to draw in crowds. That means offering a unique experience or a change of pace from your usual food and libations.
But don’t worry. There’s still time to put together some great (and easy) celebration promos just in time for the ball to drop. Here’s our top 10 countdown:
- Host a “Through the Decades” theme: As we embark on 2020, play off the decade theme to get guests in the spirit. Encourage guests to dress the part in their favorite 60’s, 70’s, 80’s or 90’s gear, and set up a fan-favorite play list for your in-house music or DJ that takes guests on a trip down memory lane with landmark hits that defined the decades. Or, go all in on a favorite decade with a 70s-themed disco party, a 60’s retro buffet or a roaring 20’s
- Go family-friendly. NYE is often associated with a night of adult beverages capped off with a champagne But families like to party, too! Plan for the little ones with kid-friendly food specials, games and family participation, like a Family Feud tournament or Minute-to-Win-It challenges. And, don’t forget the sparkling juice or cider for the midnight toast.
- Host a casino night as a fundraiser for local charity. Guests of all ages increasingly want to do good in their community and help out their neighbors. What better way to do that than combining it with a fun evening out with friends? Casino nights are relatively easy to set up: all it takes are some chips, dice, playing cards and some volunteer dealers. Blackjack, poker, baccarat and craps are all relatively easy even for non- Partner with a local charity and promote the event with all proceeds going to support the organization of choice. Offer half-price drink specials for guests during play to encourage participation.
- Create a ‘Gram-worthy scene. Thanks to smartphones, Facebook, Instagram and the desire to be viewed as an influencer, more photos are taken every two minutes than were taken throughout the entire 1800s. People want to showcase themselves out and having fun, especially on major holidays and at exclusive events. Take advantage of the trend by creating Instagram and SnapChat worthy backgrounds and filters. It only takes a few minutes to set up a fun scene and throw in some props to create a quick photo-booth experience. Throughout the evening, guests can post their photos, spreading the word about your event and attracting new customers even as the night goes on.
- Offer a special tasting menu or appetizer buffet. Guests may not want to partake in a heavy meal, especially if they’re getting a late start on the festivities. Instead, offer small tasting plates, tapas-style selections or even a self-serve appetizer buffet. This not only keeps guests sticking around, but also can help reduce the risk of guests having a few too many cocktails on an empty stomach.
- Create a signature drink. New Year’s Eve is a special night that calls for something unique and different to celebrate. Create a festive drink special that celebrates the season, like a confetti Champagne cocktail, Champagne margarita or Mistletoe margaritas. Large-batch drinks like Giggle Juice can also offer a festive flair but make things much more efficient behind the bar. And don’t forget the non-alcoholic crowd and designated drivers! Festive concoctions like a cucumber ginger mocktail, a lemon lavender mocktini or a mock winter sangria can make for a celebratory change of pace from the typical soda or sparkling water.
- Create countdown specials. New Year’s Eve is all about the countdown as we inch closer to midnight. Capitalize on the clock-watching by offering food and drink specials that change by the hour. Alternate half-priced appetizers with dollar-off drinks or BOGO offers that keep guests ordering.
- Don’t forget future promos. A whopping 77% of people use restaurant coupons and more than a third actively search for deals in choosing where to eat. NYE is a great opportunity to build repeat business with savvy savings. Once you’ve brought them through the door for a special evening out, keep them coming back by offering special coupons and discounts good only for future visits. Capitalize on the social media frenzy by offering special deals to customers who share their photos, tagging your establishment or using a special hashtag.
- Cater to the stay-at-home crowd. Of course, not everyone wants to go out for the evening, but that doesn’t mean you can’t turn the home crowd into customers. Offer catering specials for full meals or even take-home-and-heat appetizers for those who plan to host their own get-togethers. Set up a special prep area to make the carry-out process as efficient as possible so as not to interfere with your in-house guest experience.
- Go for the after-party crowd. If hosting the festivities on NYE isn’t for you or you want to give your staff the night off to celebrate, consider offering a New Year’s Day brunch instead. After a late night out, partygoers will need a good breakfast, so this is a great chance to bring them in for a little recovery grub, and perhaps some hair of the dog—mimosa and bloody mary bars can be a big hit.
Planning for New Year’s Eve might seem like a one-time-only special event but remember: it’s a great opportunity to attract new customers and keep them coming back throughout the year. Creating a festive and unforgettable experience is a powerful way to put your establishment in your guests’ regular rotation for a night out.
Aside from special promos, you’ll also want to make sure you’re fully stocked with inventory and well-staffed to manage the crowds, of course. Leveraging back-end management solutions like the Compeat Inventory, Labor, and Scheduling tools can help you get a handle on that part of the planning, so you can focus on creating an outstanding and memorable guest experience.
From all of us at Compeat, Happy New Year and cheers to good health and good business in 2020!