This is a guest blog post by Ron Lynch, president of Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery.
With an estimated 111.9 million viewers for Super Bowl 50, a 77 percent spike in the women’s world cup final viewers to 23 million and the NBA finals being the highest-rated NBA event in ABC history last year, it is evident that the culture of watching sports on TV is booming, and shows no signs of stopping any time soon.
This phenomenon is not only favorable for the sports industry, but extremely so for the restaurant industry, provided operators take the necessary steps to capitalize on the opportunity. At Titled Kilt Pub & Eatery, we cater to a variety of sports fans in our 100 pubs across the nation, and have developed successful strategies for every game in every season.
Here are our top tips to implement around major sporting events to promote your brand, retain your regulars and draw in new visitors.
Provide the Atmosphere
The majority of sports fans want to cheer on their teams while they watch the game, so your establishment must provide them an environment in which to do so. Make sure all TVs are tuned in to the most popular games, and consider allowing your staff to wear hats or jerseys to provide immediate comradery with your guests.
If you typically play music in the background, switch the audio to the game commentary to further enhance your guests’ experience and your restaurant’s atmosphere.
Prep for Larger Groups
While there isn’t a particular science to the strategy of handling large parties, the main key is to be properly staffed with added servers, bartenders and security. Fans can be very passionate on game day, so having plenty of security and managers on call is essential to ensure overly-passionate guests do not get out of hand.
If possible, consider taking reservations for bigger parties and strategically seating them in sections according to the team they’re rooting for. Not only will you offer them a great view of the game they came to see, but the potential of inter-party issues is kept to a minimum.
Factor in the Alcohol
It is no surprise that many fans enjoy a few beers while they take in the game, but alcohol tends to fuel team rivalries within a restaurant. To maintain order and safety within your establishment, it is critical that the entire staff is properly trained on safe alcohol service. Avoid over-serving a patron, and make sure either your staff or your managers are trained on effectively and discreetly refusing service to a patron without causing a scene.
In addition, make sure everyone who is consuming alcoholic beverages is also eating to keep stomachs full and tempers down, and have a manager on the floor at all times to better spot, and diffuse, potential issues before they escalate.
Marketing and Promotions
In addition to in-store promotions and giveaways, a mix of advertising, public relations and social media will help increase brand awareness and engagement with your visitors. The goal is to begin engagement prior to a game, then maintain that engagement throughout the season and carry it into a fresh round of games next season.
Social media is an extremely powerful tool for small business owners to promote their specials and their brand, both on a local and national level through a combination of organic postings and advertising opportunities. Providing the ability to target specific geographic locations with advertising, you can share details specific to separate locations, and give people the power to share those details with their individual networks.
Advertising can be taken a step further by rewarding followers with a special offer, further engaging with existing guests, recruiting new ones and enticing people to drop by your establishment for the games.
Once guests have been driven into your restaurant, promotions and special menu items will help keep them there longer. Tilted Kilt regularly features new menu items, specials and uniforms for the Kilt Girls, allowing the staff to interact with guests and provide added value for these special occasions.
During big games or popular seasons, Tilted Kilt specials will often include raffling off jerseys or other big-ticket items, and tie drink specials to a specific player’s performance or a team’s benchmark accomplishment or win. In this way Tilted Kilt not only engages with its guests, but ties that engagement to the games, making us the place to be for every game, every time.