Category Archives: Nightlife Blog

Restaurants can attract Pokemon Go players for 99 cents by “dropping a lure.”

Restaurants and other businesses are loading the monster new mobile game Pokemon Go to find out if their location is part of the game or near a spot which is a goal for players to visit. There’s no way to pay to be a location, but you can purchase “lures” within the game that attract the virtual creatures that inhabit the game, and thus attract real players that could be customers.

Read about this crazy popular game and how businesses are making themselves part of it here.

Here’s more details on exactly how dropping a lure can work for stores near “Pokestops.” Courtesy of Restaurant News and @RonRuggless.

 

 

The world’s highest paid #DJs – reason for all DJs to celebrate.

In my opinion every DJ should celebrate that the highest paid DJs make up to $66 million. When the top end is this high there are so many more opportunities to make money in the middle. I agree with many of the complaints I hear from DJs, that skills have really deteriorated (mixing and programming both), that PR/promotion and looks have become too important, and that you don’t have a shot at the big bucks unless you are also a Producer. But still, when I was a DJ in those ancient late 20th century days, I’m not sure if there was even one DJ making a million a year. An entire industry has been created. There’s a game to be played that was never there back in the day.

Then again, a lot of things have changed for DJs.

Here’s the list of the world’s highest paid DJs for 2015.

 

The best move for great #restaurant/bar #socialmedia results.

Before hiring any social media manager or company, try this for your bar / restaurant (or any retail establishment). Hire a photographer to be on location during your busy times, who will capture the action in the venue and post to social media. The problem I hear about from my clients and other bar/restaurant operators is not about HOW to post on social media, but WHAT to post. Hiring a social media agency or manager does nothing to generate exciting, original posting content! The best content for any retail business social media accounts are the cool, fun things that happen inside the venue – but you have to capture them live!  In addition to my bar/restaurant/beverage consulting firm (that includes social media consulting), I own a photo/video event services company that shoots over 400 events per year. I’ve developed quite a few techniques for utilizing photographers, and best practices for restaurant/bar content capture and sharing.  Here’s a guide for getting a good program in place to create a dominant social media presence for a venue:

  1. Personality is most important in hiring photographers. To get good photos the photographer has to be able to make customers feel comfortable and want to have fun when taking pictures. No creeps! Nobody boring or low energy!
  2. Search your staff first for a photographer. There’s a lot of creative types in the service industry. Someone who knows the venue, staff and customers is ideal. A regular may be a good photographer or know one, so ask them!
  3. Make sure the photographer fits your customer profile. As closely as possible you want the photographer to be in your ideal client demographic, so as to better relate to your concept and your best customers.
  4. Make sure the photographer is available and happy to work during the peak periods of the business.
  5. Have the photographer check in with venue private party coordinators and the hostess to learn about birthday parties and other special customer events in the venue for good photo opportunities.
  6. The work flow should be for photographer to sweep the venue engaging customers and capturing images, then go to an unobtrusive area to edit and upload images. This  should be a location where they can still see most of the room in case something exciting occurs that should be captured. This alternating work flow allows time for quick editing, instant uploading and prevents overkill of the photographer being on the floor too much, annoying people and running out of good images to capture. I suggest 50% of time on the floor 50% off, and running time can depend on what’s happening, size of crowd etc. Don’t bother scheduling photographers on slow nights, it’s a waste.
  7. Before hiring the photographer, ask them for photos of groups having fun and photos of food and drinks. If they don’t have much to show, have them come in on a night and shoot a live audition. Work with them and watch how they relate to customers, then look at their work. Personality and speed are more important than super high quality photography. The photos and video need to be attractive and eye catching, but don’t have to be masterpieces. For example food does not have to look like a restaurant chain advertisement; yummy is good enough. Skills shooting in a dimmer light level is important. Wedding photographers are great candidates for this as they know how to engage with clients but often they work Saturdays which is most venues’ best night. But winter is off season in northern areas so that creates some opportunities.
  8. The photographer needs to wear a lanyard with an ID badge so customers know it’s a representative of the venue and not some creepy picture taker!
  9. Make sure the photographer can also shoot video with their camera and is comfortable doing this. Video is equally important to photography in social media.
  10. Have a quiet area of the bar or restaurant where customer wanting to do testimonials, happy birthday messages or other positive short videos can be captured. These are priceless!
  11. Only use photographers with an active social media presence. They need to walk the walk not just talk the talk. They must demonstrate their knowledge by having a presence on every social media channel where your business is active.
  12. Have a conversation about the image the business needs to portray online to drive sales. Make sure the photographer “gets” what type of photos and videos should go on line and which should be deleted. Emphasize quality over quantity!  For those who are interested I offer an extensive list of criteria and a training guide I use for event photography and videography.
  13. Have the photographer post instantly, with no management review process. Social media sharing thrives in the moment. There’s no time for a manager or owner to go through all the images, so it’s key to have a photographer with good judgment (see #12). If the photographer can do some filters and special effects quickly that’s great, but let them know speed is priority 1. Management should look at their accounts daily and take down anything that is not appropriate. This should be rare with the right shooter and training criteria.
  14. For instant posting it’s best for the photographer to have a camera with Wi-Fi or other connectivity built in. For example I use a Canon EOS with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi built in so photos go right to my smart phone for fast editing and posting. Forget posting the next day – that’s an obsolete approach.
  15. If the venue has a larger TV matrix system several TVs can be dedicated to uploaded photos from the current day and past days – an ever changing collage of photos. The social media explosion is proof positive that people love to look at photos of themselves and their friends!
  16. Give the photographer hashtags or other tags and keywords that can be included with photos, that fit your marketing needs.
  17. You need heads up, talented, dependable, good personalities for this job, so don’t cheap out!
  18. The best restaurant social media accounts I’ve seen have a lot of owner personal involvement. If possible, ownership should be personally captured interacting with customers, hosting short videos and posting everything to active personal social media sites. This is the gold standard.
  19. Whenever possible, the photographer should caption the images when posting, with AT LEAST the venue name and taggable names of the people in the photos or video. This is key for sharing and viral action. How this is done varies from channel to channel.  Customers giving their names should be entered automatically in a contest for a generous prize so they have a chance to win something for sharing their names. If they don’t want to that’s fine, don’t push it.
  20. Every customer should get a simple business card with a link to view the photos and download or share.
  21. Don’t just shoot customer and food/beverage photos. Remember the staff is a huge part of any good venue’s appeal. If the photographer has a good personality the staff will engage and you’ll get a lot of fun photos of staff with each other and with customers. Let the staff tag themselves. Don’t auto tag them as many staff members are worried about stalkers, their full time day job etc. I’ve seem many programs fall apart due to mishandling staff involvement. Owners tend to assume staff members want to promote themselves online at their hospitality jobs, and will BE the social media department for the venue. This is wishful thinking and I’ve never seen it happen. Staff can be a part of a program run by the venue; they will never be your prime social media drivers. FYI short cut takers.
  22. Have the photographer do head shots for all staff they can use on their own. Everyone needs one! Also have the photographers shoot general room shots, empty and full, along with B Roll video of the venue. These may or may not be good enough for advertising, media or private party brochures, but it’s a free throw to get some generic shots when the photographer is there anyway.
  23. Have more than 1 photographer in rotation, and have a back up every night. Work with an agency if you have to. Marketing through social media is just as important as any other job. You wouldn’t have no hostess, don’t miss a busy night with your photographer. That will be the night something amazing happens and you’ll miss it!
  24. Have a sign posted as people enter the venue that they may be recorded or photographed and entry constitutes agreement to share their image. I have some good ones just ask me if needed. If anyone contacts you objecting to their image being on social media, take it down right away, and ask them to confirm by email that their complaint has been resolved.
  25. Make sure bands and entertainers sign a waiver allowing their images, audio and video to be used for venue promotion.
  26. The photographer needs to sign a contractor waiver and agree they are responsible for their own equipment and anything that happens relating to them while at the venue. It’s best if they have insurance but most do not.
  27. Run your plan by a local attorney to see if there are any restrictions or risks in your local area that need to be considered.

If you have a photographer shooting and posting photos and video on every busy night, I am 100% sure you will have the best social media presence among your competitors. Very few are going the extra mile to do this right, so it’s a huge potential competitive advantage.

I’m happy to help design your program just contact me here. Happy shooting!

Tim

Jon Taffer is right. But in the ’80s.

Bartenders and other hospitality pros are attacking Jon Taffer of Spike TV’s “Bar Rescue” for his answers in a HuffPost Q&A published this week. Many of his responses don’t sound like the bar business as we know it today. But in defense of Mr. Taffer, they are not as random they might seem. To decode where some of his more hotly debated comments come from, we have to get into the Wayback Machine and head back to the 1980s. Here are some of the responses people are attacking, and how they made more sense “back in the day.”

The Mezcal / Mescaline Thing.

In the interview, Mr. Taffer claimed that tequila is made from the same raw materials as the drug Mescaline.  This is not true now nor was it in the 80s. But there is an “80s reason” why someone could have made this mistake. Eating the worm in a bottle of Mezcal became wildly popular in the 80s and it was said to have psychedelic properties (the worm not the booze). I think Jon just mixed up this old school tall tale with the origin of tequila and made a little word salad out of Mezcal and Mescaline. The Mezcal remarks have been removed from the HuffPost story (something that would never have been tolerated by editors in the 1980s BTW).

The drink everyone should be able to make is the screwdriver.

As a 20 year old bartender in the 80s, I do remember this was a go-to drink for people who didn’t know what to order and very easy to make. The vodka cranberry of the Miami Vice era. There were many popular juice based drinks back then such as the Tequila Sunrise. Of course orange juice drinks pretty much vanished in the 90s so you have to be pretty old (ouch) to even remember the golden age of washing pulp out of glasses.  As for Mr. Taffer’s story about how oil workers chugged vodka/OJ in the 1920s, I can’t explain that.  Somehow I doubt orange juice was something you always had around back then.

An overlooked drink everyone should try is the “Old Fashioned.”

Today of course it’s a mainstay and granddaddy of cocktail culture. But the 80s was the era of beer tubs and drink factory bars with lightning service, simple drinks, bottled wine coolers and flair bartenders juggling bottles.  The Old Fashioned was considered a pain in the ass drink to make and about as complicated as you got in the big high energy bars which dominated the Me Decade.  “Mixologists” was our name for slow bartenders in the places I worked. In the 80s we buried the Pink Squirrel and Grasshopper 70’s drinks, and kept it simple. Shots exploded in popularity and bottled beer peaked. It would take the mid-90’s lounge culture to start bringing cocktails and mixology back. Of course none of this makes sense to a millennial or even a young Gen-Xer.  Netflix Tom Cruise’s 1988 movie classic “Cocktail” and you’ll get it.

You should tip all at once at the end of the night instead of with each round.

This almost never happens now unless you are dining or at the bar in a super empty joint.  But bars and clubs were more intricately organized for service back in the day. You were more likely at the bar and even at a table to have the same server all night (not 100% as Mr. Taffer does note). Clubs took a lot more care to make sure everyone was constantly being offered drinks and no money was left on the table. “Never have a customer waiting to give us money” as one of my mentors emphasized. Big places used a “zone defense” where it was impossible to stand, sit or lean anywhere in the bar without a server coming up and offering a drink (or hassling you to buy in some cases). It was the norm in the 1980s but nearly extinct today to have cocktail service covering not only tables but every area of the floor throughout the bar.  Believe it or not if you stood by the wall or by the dance floor a waitress with a big tray would come up to you and insist you buy a drink (not just a shot, a drink order!) We even had a waitress who worked “point,” which was the end of the first bar when you come in the door. This server’s entire job was to hit everyone that walked in the door and get a drink order.  Believe it or not even if you moved around a bit, these incredibly skilled servers would find you with the drink you ordered (and a full tray of drinks for others). This is a long lost art. Today you are almost always either at a table or walking up to the bar for every drink. This simpler system actually costs bars a lot of lost sales that would have been money in the bank in the 1980s. Back then it was never easy to stand around in a bar or club not spending money. Some of these ideas might be due for a resurrection!

It’s not OK for bartenders to drink with their customers.

In the 80s there were widespread bans on drinking while working in the corporate bars and many entertainment oriented places. Not everywhere of course but it was much more prevalent. Also there was a lot less free pouring and more bar supervision in general. I worked at a place for a bit where we hit a button and a pre-measured shot came out of the wall. From the mid-nineties on the trend shifted to free pouring and “have a drink with the customers.” As someone who was a bartender for years I do agree with Mr. Taffer that the best policy is don’t drink on the job!

It’s not rude to signal a bartender.  You should sip a cocktail before paying.

Two things common in the high energy 80s, but now seen as uncool. Times change.

But some things don’t change!

Mr. Taffer is 100% right that even today you can tell a bad bar by bad smell, don’t go to a loud bar for a date or business meeting, DON’T EAT FROM THAT BOWL OF BAR SNACKS, and the only way to prevent a hangover is don’t drink too much!

Here’s an attack article or here’s another one, where industry pros go off on Mr. Taffer.

And here’s a new one (update).

And here’s a local one. (update) “Who was that character that woke up after a 30 year nap?

Read the edited HuffPost interview here.

Full disclosure (ouch): I started my career as an 20 year old bartender and DJ in the 1980s and did that full time for 8 years before getting into management.

Cheers! – Tim

shortlink: http://wp.me/p2g9q8-Gj

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Restaurant / Bar Idea : Promote Thru Your WiFi

I believe SmartWiFi is a great idea for bars, restaurants and other businesses.  Run your loyalty program and customer discount offers on the WiFi that customers use in the establishment!  I haven’t figured out the best service yet but here’s a few that are out there.

Pharo Social (video explaining concept and linking to Social Media)

GoZone

Wavespot

ZenReach

Turnstyle

Let me know your thoughts, any operators that are using these or considering.

Cheers!

Tim

 

http://wp.me/p2g9q8-F3