There’s nothing like sipping on a cold, fizzy beer after a long day. Now, I prefer drinking at home or at a nice bar.
However, drinking at hotel bars isn’t my thing. After hours of meetings, heading out to find a place for booze feels more intriguing to me.
You ask, why?
For some reason, they feel welcoming to me. It could be because of my past experiences – the not so great surroundings and extremely high prices.
If you are struggling and wondering how to increase bar sales in hotels, then “Don’t Worry, Be Hoppy”.
This blog will help turn your bar into a busy place where all you’ll hear is – “one beer please”, “could you refill this pitcher”, “one whiskey on the rocks”.
Evolution of Bar
Humans have been consuming alcohol for as long as we can remember. But when it comes to bars, their history is something to talk about.
According to a source, the concept of a bar or a drinking place traces to the 17th century. Back then, bars only had a tabletop/counter with chairs where people would sit and drink.
Fast forward to the early 20th century, several countries banned the production of alcohol and bars became a secret place for people to drink. Of course, it was illegal but authorities had no information.
It was mostly in the late 20th century when bars started to become mainstream, catering to different kinds of people.
And since then, it has gone through numerous evolutions.
Today, bars aren’t just individual establishments, they are becoming a part of hotels and other accommodation providers.
Challenges of Running a Hotel Bar
Even though the hotel bar segment has evolved over the years, there are challenges that hotels face in running a successful alcohol serving outlet.
Here are some of them:
Liquor pricing: I am sure most of us have walked out of hotel bars after checking the prices. This sort of blatant money-making pricing is what pulls your sales down.
Hotels must ensure that they have a sound alcohol pricing strategy in place.
- Maintaining quiet hours: Bars in general and bars inside a hotel are different in some ways. One of them is maintaining quiet hours. Hotels need to ensure that there are strict rules regarding noise. They can set quiet hours so that guests staying at the property aren’t disturbed.
Resolving conflicts: Fuss after drinks are pretty common in bars. However, the staff needs to ensure that people in an intoxicated state aren’t creating any kind of fuss or conflicts.
Again, there are times when guests staying in the hotel are the ones who go rogue after a few pegs. It is a challenge for bouncers and the staff to eighty-six them as it may end up affecting the hotel’s image.
- Managing inventory: It could be error-prone but not a monstrous task. Rather, it’s low-hanging fruit. With the right strategy and tools like a POS system, hotel bars can manage it well and increase profitability.
Lack of trained staff: A hotel’s primary source of revenue is selling rooms, and that’s one of the reasons many don’t invest much in training the staff from other departments. That shouldn’t be the case.
Be it the mixologist or the sommelier or just a waiter, everyone must be aware of all the ethics, protocols, and etiquettes of serving customers.
Tips to Boost Hotel Bar Sales
Point of sale outlets like bars usually don’t get a pretty good amount of sales compared to restaurants. And the reason is, most probably, you aren’t aware of the ways to increase your bar sales.
So, let me help you with some tips to increase bar sales in hotels and gain the king’s ransom.
1. Create a brand for the hotel bar
Before you implement all the strategies to boost sales, you must bet on branding.
When we say branding, it goes way beyond just a logo or graphic element.
It is about the entire customer experience — everything from the logo, website, social media experiences, interaction with customers, to staff behaviour and etiquette.
Simply put, a brand is how a person perceives you.
Therefore, make sure you’re leveraging every possible avenue to create a brand and tell your story to a wider audience.
If you want a detailed blog on how to create a brand, let me know in the comments.
2. Leverage your existing customer base
Existing customers/guests are likely to spend more on your hotel and its offerings. So, when you’re trying to increase bar sales in your hotel, don’t forget to tap into your existing guests.
Determine the customers who have previously ordered alcohol (or have visited your bar) and segment them. Once you do that, persuade them to make a repeat purchase. You should also try offering discounts on drinks.
Not to mention, once a guest comes back to your property and even makes a purchase at your hotel bar, ensure that you’re delivering a fantastic experience. Because, satisfying your guests will help you build a large, reliable customer base, and make them your greatest advocates.
3. Come up with interesting happy hour strategies
Roses are red, so is my wine. Refill my glass and I’ll be just fine.
And happy hours are exactly just that!
If you aren’t aware of this famous strategy of selling more, it is that period of the day when drinks are sold at reduced prices (many offer complimentary drinks) in a bar or other licensed establishment.
What happens is bars use happy hour strategy to create an additional value of an offering in the mind of the customer to increase bar sales in hotels and increase overall hotel revenue.
If you’re wondering, whether discounted drinks and appetizer deals of a happy hour would work, then here’s something:
Many reports suggest that happy hours are one of the busiest times for bars and restaurants that serve alcohol. And guess what. Most of the time, the average happy hour bill is more than the average bill during other times of the day. Meaning, people tend to order and spend more on food and drinks when there are discounts.
If your hotel bar is running without a happy hour strategy, then you’re missing out on a lot of business.
Bars, pubs, and even cafes offer a space for community gatherings. It’s sometimes your “third place” — a location between home and work.
Now, if you can grab this opportunity (the idea of building a community), you can significantly increase bar sales in hotels.
But why is it important? Because communities are key to brand loyalty, awareness, and overall success.
If you’re wondering how to build a community, let me explain to you with an example.
A friend of mine in Guwahati, India has recently started a beer café. Surprisingly, he is profitable already.
Once I asked him, “how did you scale so much in such a short time?” This is what he said:
Bro, there’s no rocket science. I don’t even have a marketing background. I just had one idea: creating a group/community of like-minded folks — people who like beer.
It all started with a small gathering in my café itself. I invited a friend of mine (an alcohol connoisseur) to talk about beers. I also distributed some pamphlets in the city, mentioning this gathering – or you can call it a “hangout”.
Guess, what? People showed up! Eventually, the community grew; even online.
You can also try something similar and see it for yourself.
5. Host events
This is a part of the previous point. Just like my friend, you can also host such events or gatherings.
Again, it doesn’t have to be always around alcohol, you can also invite local artists to play at your hotel bar.
If you want to run a successful bar, you have to make it fun. Let me put it this way — “drinking makes hanging out with friends and other already enjoyable activities more pleasurable.”
When we talk about a bar menu, there are certain things you have to consider — design, pricing, type of drinks, and snack. And this is exactly what we are going to discuss.
- Design: I am sure you’ll pick the best graphic or template for your menu, but you also have to get creative with the copy. If you want to sell more, use entertaining descriptions, puns, funny quotes, give your titles quirky and playful names and other such tricks.
- Pricing: It is one of the trickiest aspects of running a hotel bar. Too expensive, and you push your guests/customers away. So how do you set the right price for your drinks? I have found a detailed article on this topic, you can check and implement it. Click here to read.
- Types of drinks: Do not just offer generic drinks. It is not at all a bad idea to include some unique or exotic drinks to entice your customers. It also shows that you want to present the best.
- Snack: Drinks feel incomplete without some snacks. So, make sure your menu includes some of the alluring snacks to go with the drinks.
7. Create a vibe/ambience that lures
If you want to know how to increase bar business and welcome more alcohol enthusiasts to your bar, you must set the atmosphere right.
However, creating a bar ambience that impresses guests is a little tricky. I would suggest you take help from design experts.
But, if you want to do it all yourself, I have some tips for you.
- Use the right colour and light. For example, warm colours enhance appetite while cool colours suppress it. In terms of lighting, dimmed lights create a warm glow that softens the wrinkles of time.
- Install Instagram-worthy decors and elements you want to get tagged on your guests’ Instagram posts.
- Music plays a vital role in how people perceive drinking. If you want guests to drink a bit faster you can crank the music up. And if you want them to stick around and spend more, play something with a slower tempo.
- Have a well-engineered seating plan. You need to place tables and chairs that feel welcoming to guests and ensure your seats are occupied efficiently.
- Train your staff to interact with guests in a way that makes them feel good. Not to mention, you can also train them on selling an expensive drink. It all boils down to the art of communication.
8. Attracting locals to your bar
While you can do everything mentioned above to improve your bar sales, do not forget to create a strategy around locals.
You can always use events for that.
Or, how about offering a “buy one get one” on pitchers to people living in the neighbourhood?
When you engage with your neighbourhood community, you significantly boost your chances of selling more.
Yes, hotel bars are profitable. If you market it well and operate with strong strategies, you will definitely be able to increase bar sales in hotels.
It depends on the size of the hotel, the type of guests it serves, the locality and few other aspects.
Yes, a bar is a point of sale (POS) outlet.
Hotels can easily manage their bar and its operations with the help of a POS system.
Not every hotel bar is unsuccessful, they are those who fail to capitalise on the opportunities present in the industry.
Over and above, running a successful and profitable bar always boils down to marketing practices and business strategies. If you can ace these aspects, you can earn big money from your bar.
I have tried to shed light on how to improve bar sales and I hope hoteliers use the mentioned tips and see how their bar performs.