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Tips, tricks AND treats for hospitality businesses

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Tips, tricks AND treats for hospitality businesses this Halloween

The National Retail Federation reports more than 171 million Americans will celebrate Halloween this year, with figures projected to reach $8.4bn! The pagan holiday has always been a money spinner in the US but has experienced rising popularity in the UK, becoming the second biggest party night in the UK after New Year’s Eve. This is great news for pubs, bars and clubs looking to boost sales this October.

Halloween has the potential to provide hospitality businesses with a welcome boost in a traditionally slow month before the Christmas rush gets underway. Pubs can expect to earn an average of £10k during Halloween week, a huge jump on the £3k normally expected at this time of year. The 31st falls on a Monday this year which provides the opportunity for a full weekend of events.

Thanks to millennial consumers wanting to emulate the Halloween parties of their American cousins, dressing up and decorations are a must for throwing any themed event. A half-hearted effort can repel potential punters, so quit raiding the pound shop bargain bin 2 days before and plan ahead.

Tips, tricks AND treats for hospitality businesses this Halloween

Establishing who you’re catering for is key to hitting the right notes with your audience. Halloween has a big pull for students but be aware, there's a lot of competition vying for their student loan. Cheap drinks promotions are likely to garner the most interest among this group. Shot paddles, tailor-made cocktails, booze-based prizes and costume competitions are all way's guaranteed to fuel interest.

Decorations, lighting, eerie music and sound effects are all great ways to build a spooky atmosphere. Bars and nightclubs may be able to sell tickets as a way of offsetting decoration costs. If this is your plan, don’t price people out of your premises and ensure your efforts reflect the money they’re parting with to avoid disappointment.

Alternatively, some pubs may want to appeal to the family market, holding daytime events, appealing to children and adults alike. This is a good way to attract families, as many parents will be looking to entertain children on a budget. Think pumpkin carving, face painting, children's fancy dress competition's and Halloween games. Offering themed food at reasonable prices is a fun way to get people spending. Choose low-cost options such as chili's, curries or pasta's that can be made in bulk and have high margin potential. If offering hot food isn’t possible, buffets are an easy alternative and provide a great opportunity to get creative.

Tips, tricks AND treats for hospitality businesses this Halloween

Pubs not catering for a PG audience could sign up to organised pub crawls. It maybe carnage for a round or two but will drive wet led sales through the roof. If you fear a crowd of raucous drunk zombies could scare off your regulars perhaps something a little more low-key, such as a Halloween-themed quiz or screening classic cult films. Appealing to potential new customers without alienating your existing ones is the key to holding successful holiday events.

Don’t forget to advertise your plans through as many channels as possible, specifically social media, use of flyers, posters and not forgetting word of mouth to yield maximum results. Staff should be involved with dressing up, which can be received one of two ways. If their enthusiasms a little hampered consider boosting staff engagement with a themed upsell incentive. Getting into the spirit of this increasingly commercial holiday is a proven driver of revenue for hospitality businesses who get it right.


Erin Heenan

Erin joined Epos Now in 2016 as an in-house content writer for the marketing department, making use of 10 years experience working in busy restaurants. An avid fan of shopping and eating out, she is committed to helping retail and hospitality SMEs get the most out of their businesses.

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