Black cats, pumpkins, skeletons, and witch hats everywhere can only mean one thing: the spirit of Halloween is finally here. The month of October always brings with it the most terrifying holiday of the year and you should take advantage of this time as a unique opportunity for your business.
It's time to put a spell on your guests and take your bar to the next level. Keep scrolling down this article (if you dare) and find out more about our pick for the top 6 ways to improve your bar sales during the Halloween season. From daring drinks to deathly decorations, here we’ll tell you everything you can do to use this festivity as a tool in your favor.
Add new cocktail concoctions
Halloween is the perfect excuse to try out new drinks and leave your customers enchanted. You must be careful since Halloween can be a bit gory, so it’s important not to cross the line: make delicious drinks, that are within the theme, but that do not scare customers away!
A good twist on the Zombie never fails; you can add some gummy eyes to float in the drink, or even set it on fire. You can also offer green apple shots (which are a star ingredient during the autumn) and serve them as witch potions.
Anything new and exclusive is always exciting for customers, so be sure to advertise the menu as limited-time drinks, which will only be around for the week of Halloween.
Halloween is an opportunity to use up the stock which hasn’t been shifting on your backbar. A great thing to attract customers and sell more during Halloween is to create a special cocktail menu based on the theme you chose for this retail event. If you chose to steer clear of a specific theme, then we have a great selection of spooktacular Halloween cocktails for you to include in your menu.
“Try to find the balance between spooky and gory”
Don't forget about the props: fill the bar with Halloween decor
There are different ways in which you can take advantage of Halloween to temporarily change the decoration of your bar. You can play it safe and go for the generic “SCARY” theme, by adding hanging skeletons, faux carved pumpkins, and spider webs everywhere.
However, what we recommend, from the bottom of our spooky hearts, is that you go all out, after all it's an event that happens every year so as long as you have the storage space, your decorations can be used again and again. Since the pandemic, people are looking for something a little exciting to help them make up for lost time which is why making an effort is likely to catch the eye of potential Halloween enthusiasts.
You can choose a theme decoration with the popular series or movies of the moment. You can go for classics like the beloved movie Hocus-pocus (you can even stream it on the big screen, people love that movie and the sequel is about to be released).
Old fashioned zombies, vampires, or ghosts are also a crowd favourite as well. This year we predict Stranger Things and 80s’ scares will be IN!
Throw some parties
This is the best way to make Halloween last the entire month of October, and not just the 31st. With Halloween-themed parties, you can attract new customers, and generate a buzz around the final event to come, meaning that closer to the 31st you should have an increase in footfall to your venue.
Use these parties to give a few sneak peeks of what is coming for the big party. You should already have a couple themed drinks on your menu and have the bar decorated.
Hire a DJ, curate a thematic playlist, hire a smoke machine and give yourself a chance to maximise sales during the late night visits by making the atmosphere in your venue incredible.
You can do some games or themed contests so that the best-dressed customer wins a prize (like a round of shots, or a gift card to spend at the bar). This could give customers another reason to attend and also gives you another aspect to market and stand out against your competition.
Halloween is not a party that you can plan overnight. It’s already a very popular holiday, so the expectations are rising every year. In fact, it’s recommended that you start planning during August or September, so when October comes around you are ready to do the Monster Mash. Work out your cocktail menu, get your promotional assets ready (you can find some for free in the Downloadable Assets section on Funkin Trade Hub). Plan some posts for social media, add the new cocktails to the till and make sure you have enough staff to kick off the busiest time of the year.
Preparing in advance is a great way to make sure that your customers are the ones being spooked and not you.
A bar cannot be fully Halloween-themed if the staff members are not in costume. Of course, they don't have to be expensive or uncomfortable costumes, nor do they have to be super elaborate.
If you want to keep it more low profile, you can opt to have them wear their uniform and some headbands or Halloween makeup. During the Halloween period most shops are selling some form of costumes or accessories which you can often get for a very good price.
If you want to go full spooktacular then use your employees as a way to fully immerse your customers in the Halloween fun. Offer them to dress up as some of the most terrifying characters from the movies and even take on traits of the character if they are a semi-confident actor! You don’t have to stick to the classics, get some more recent shows involved - think Stranger Things or Umbrella Academy.
Another way to spice up your Halloween party is to organise a trick or treat segment with your bartender, where the bartender gives customers drinks instead of sweeties based on ‘trick’ or ‘treat’ if the guest is born on Halloween day.
Make a Halloween-themed Happy Hour
According to CGA the cocktail consumer wants value, coupled with premium quality and cocktail promotions are just the thing for that. 57% of cocktail consumers order cocktails when they are on promotion “every time” or “almost every time”.
Considering Halloween is a competitive time for the on-trade and most of your highstreet competitors will be offering various deals attempting to drive traffic to their venues, we would advise taking note and creating a special Halloween promotion.
Curate your Happy Hour (or Spooky Hour) to include special Halloween drinks - cocktails and shots in particular to ensure you drive sales of the special cocktails and run down the stocks of additional spirits and cocktail purées you ordered for the occasion.
Make the most of Halloween
Halloween can be used as a great marketing tool. Everyone remembers bars that dive into a theme, and take it to the next level, so you can do the same with your venue.
Hire a photographer for the big party nights so you can fill social networks with photos of Halloween parties (you can also share them the following year as teasers for the parties to come). You can even invite customers to tag you in their posts, or you can share the photos you took with them, so they'll spread the word and it'll be a great way to get your bar out there. Remember to engage with their posts, share them and reply to DMs, it will help to increase visibility of your venue and help you increase engagement stats on social media.
Live and learn
Try to measure how the event went and learn from it. Look at how many people came, the increase in foot traffic compared to a normal day, or even since last year. Evaluate social media engagement and attract new followers. Assess your sales rate and evaluate the return on investment. These activations are always a learning exercise and year on year they tend to improve.
So this Halloween, don’t forget to deck up your restaurant/bar with these tips, and spook your guests with a Halloween they’ll never forget…