The 16 Best Event Ideas to Increase Foot Traffic to Your Bar

Grace Lee-Weitz
Post by Grace Lee-Weitz
February 25, 2022
The 16 Best Event Ideas to Increase Foot Traffic to Your Bar

Attracting consumers to your bar or taproom on busy days like Friday, Saturday, and even Sunday is one thing. But don’t overlook driving foot traffic into your establishment on slow days during the week.

Bringing folks in to drink Monday through Thursday puts pints in hands and boosts your bottom line when you need it most.

Luckily, it isn’t that hard to find ways to increase your foot traffic with events. Just follow these handy tips. Plus, sixteen of the best event ideas we found to help increase traffic and revenue to your bar.

The Benefits of Events

Two friends holding their babies and beers outdoors at Trace Brewing
Photography courtesy of Trace Brewing

It’s wonderful if your establishment is busy during peak times such as happy hours and the weekends, for big sports games, or during the summer.

But those few days won’t sustain your business.

Exploring how to put butts in seats during off-peak times will bring in extra traffic and increase your weekly revenue.

But few folks will leave the comfort of their homes during the week just to drink.

You need to create a compelling reason for a potential customer or even a loyal fan to visit.

Events bring folks into a brewery that haven’t felt comfortable there before or have not thought the craft beer scene was for them ...
Katie Rado, General Manager at Trace Brewing | Pittsburgh, PA

An event such as trivia night, open mic, karaoke, comedy night, keep the glass, etc., is a great way to attract patrons to your place. Plus, if you tie in a drink special or discount you give people even more of a reason to come hang out and drink.

Events will help your business stand out in a competitive market. And well-planned parties can even attract new faces or the attention of local media, increasing your brand awareness.

“Events bring folks into a brewery that haven’t felt comfortable there before or have not thought the craft beer scene was for them,” says Katie Rado, General Manager at Trace Brewing in Pittsburgh, PA.

Trace has made it a focal point of their business plan to craft community-focused events. Rado estimates Trace hosted about 130 events in six months during 2021. Everything from the simple -- art meet-ups, trivia nights, featured DJs, and drag events -- to the more complex -- a big Pride celebration, Lights Out concert series, Oktoberfest, and Slappers N Bangers dance party.

And she’s already seen the benefits. “We’re thinking about what the community needs a space for and seeing if we can provide that for them,” says Rado. “The advantages are that we’ve brought in folks that may not normally have come into the brewery.”

All in all, the potential advantages here could make it worth the effort of planning events.

Please note: You should check all of your local liquor laws, especially around drink specials, happy hours, etc., before hosting any event.

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Quick Tips on Planning an Event

Man hosting trivia night at Trace Brewing
Photography courtesy of Trace Brewing

There can be many steps to planning an event. Rado suggests starting with the familiar.

“Start with what you know, and then reach out and listen to people that come to you with an idea,” says Rado. “My first step when I started at Trace and thinking about events was to reach out to the people that I knew and the kinds of events I was familiar with.”

Now, if you’re dipping your toes in the events pool for the first time, we suggest connecting with those in your community. Do you have an art gallery next door as a neighbor? What about a local food truck that just started slinging? Have you made friends with any of your patrons involved in your town? Get in touch with those you have connections with first.

It will be easier to work together, and more often than not you’ll find you both have a common goal to boost your businesses and support the local area.

Rado says, “A lot of what I did in the beginning is reach out to local groups… Also I recruited friends to help.”

Beyond that, one of the best tips we can share is to give yourself enough time to plan.

Implementing all the moving parts will take time.

We suggest sitting down and organizing an event calendar for the entire year, or at least the next three to four months.

Sit down and figure out the solid, larger ideas you have and put dates to them. For example, a Super Bowl party, an Oscar watch party, or a July 4th celebration.

From there you can work backwards and divvy up tasks to your staff.

And once the big events are on the calendar you can slot in smaller ones as you see fit. Such as trivia or game nights, karaoke, or open mics.

While each event will differ, generally give yourself a lead time of at least three to four weeks from planning to execution. Not only will this allow enough time to organize everything, but also to promote the event.

Speaking of marketing, spreading the word will be the final piece. The easiest way to get the word out will be with your own internal platforms -- Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or a newsletter.

Afterall, if no one knows about the event, how can you expect people to come?

Rado gives one last piece of advice. “Don’t be discouraged,” she says. “I’m always nervous. Will people come? Just throw a good party. If you throw a good party and the people that came to your party had a good time and you had a good time, then the event was a success.”

How Untappd For Business Can Promote Your Event

Screenshots of Untappd app promoting bars and restaurants

With Untappd for Business you can easily promote your event on the world's largest social networking app for craft beer drinkers. We're talking over 9 million registered users that you can potentially promote to if you're an Untappd for Business partner.

Of course, you'll want to take advantage of those closest to your restaurant, bar, or brewery. As a part of Untappd for Business create a Verified Venue Page for your event and set up a promotion, which advertises in the Untappd app to folks within a fifty mile radius of your venue.

You can even write a custom email that will come from Untappd that all recipients of the promo will receive. Here you can add all those nitty gritty details such as the tap list, ticket information if applicable, or more about your business or any participating partners.

All of this makes Untappd for Business one of the best ways to promote your event to a captivated audience.

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16 Best Event Ideas for Your Bar or Taproom

Woman doing a live painting outdoors at Trace Brewing
Photography courtesy of Trace Brewing

Keep the Pint Night

Folks love the opportunity to not only drink, but to also get something “free” to take home. Order a bunch of custom glasses and offer anyone who buys a pint a custom glass to keep. This is a pretty popular event at breweries because offering a freebie will help attract new fans and keep your loyal customers happy.

Live Artist Painting

This event is a great way to support your local community. Bring in an artist to create something live while people drink. It could be a huge mural that you commissioned or even just a screen printer that will make cool-looking shirts with your logo for patrons. This could be bonus advertising for you if someone wears a shirt with your logo on it around town.

Sip and Draw

Alternatively, you can hold an actual art workshop. Yaymaker brings people together over fun-filled experiences such as Paint Nite (the original paint-and-sip party). Buy a few cheap canvases, brushes, and paints, and host a night of drinking and drawing. This is an event you could probably create a ticket for to cover the cost of the supplies.

Beer Yoga

Do you have a bunch of space in your production area? Consider inviting a yoga instructor to come in and host a session. You can ticket this event, offering a fee for people to come participate and enjoy a “free” beer of their choice after their workout. This has become a very popular event in breweries.

Board Game Bonanza

Bust out the Clue, Scrabble, and Scattergories from the cupboard for a given night of the week. Drinking lends itself perfectly to playing board games. Plus, providing these classic games will tap into that nostalgia people love. Sweeten the pot by offering a drink or food deal.

Sports Watch Party / Creative Watch Party

People love sports. So give them a reason to display their local pride. You can certainly put on the football game on Sunday, but consider some of those other sports that make appearances during the week -- basketball, hockey, even the English Premier League. Nothing goes better with watching a competitive match than a cold glass of beer. But you don’t need to limit these nights to sports. What other pop culture phenomenon can you tap into? Could you set up an Oscar viewing? How about a ‘90s movie night -- Matrix, Mission Impossible, Fight Club? Or the hottest TV show such as The Bachelor or whatever is the new Game of Thrones.

Featured DJ Spinning

We suggest saving this for a day later in the week such as Thursday. Get people excited for the weekend. Bring in local DJs to spin each week or give one artist a residency for a certain period of time. Pumping up the spirit on a day close to the weekend will drive more traffic.

Concert Series

The next step after a weekly DJ spot, a concert series will take a bit more planning. But if you have the space to set up a stage either inside or outside your brewery or bar, consider bringing in a band. This is a great tactic during the warmer months. Again, you could potentially attract new patrons who come for the show and stay for the suds.

Fashion drag show outdoors at Trace Brewing
Photography courtesy of Trace Brewing

Drag Show

The major advantage of a drag brunch is the potential to welcome in an entirely new crowd. These are fun, energetic events that are enjoyed by not only the Queer community, but also many Millennial and Gen Zers. Book a local drag legend and have them perform one night a month.

Trivia Night

Back to basics here, but a trivia night is a classic for a reason. It just works! Geeks Who Drink is a popular partner that will provide you with all the materials to host a successful trivia night including marketing promotions, questions, and staffing support. Leverage this premiere pub trivia phenomenon to bring customers into the bar and keep them there for a few hours buying beers and having fun.

Block Party

This event will take much more planning. You’ll likely need to work with your local government to get any permits to shut down local streets, etc. But the benefits could be huge. An event that attracts your whole town or city will bring in a large amount of foot traffic and instill good will in the community. Consider hosting this event in tandem with a large national holiday that falls on a weekday. For example, July 4th, Labor Day, or Memorial Day.

Craft Fair

Host a local craft fair. Invite local businesses or artists to come in and hawk their wares. You can simply set up several tables in your taproom spaces and let your vendors design them as they see fit.

Featured Food Truck

This is almost a no-brainer nowadays. If you have the space, invite a local food truck to come park in your space for a set night during the week. Offering interesting new eats alongside your beers will be the perfect way to attract folks into the taproom.

Beer Holiday: Oktoberfest, National IPA Day

There is no better way to get beer-loving patrons into your space than by celebrating a fun beer holiday. Are you making an Oktoberfest in the fall? Go all out by doing things like offering pretzels to eat, playing German music, and giving out special steins with discounts on beer. Do you make an IPA? We’re guessing you do! Celebrate National IPA Day -- the first Thursday in August every year -- by putting all IPAs on tap. You could set up an IPA passport and anyone that drinks three or four of the IPAs on tap could receive a special “freebie.” There are plenty of other beer holidays out there. Find one that fits and plan an event around it.

Neighboring Brewery Collab Takeover

Take one night and give all or a portion of your taps over to a neighboring brewery. You could brew a collab beer with them first and make that the feature of the night, but then promote a few of their other beers as well. The advantages here are two fold. First, you’ll bring in fans of the other brewery. Perhaps some who have never visited your space before. Two, hopefully you’ll be able to host a reciprocal night at the other brewery, increasing your reach and brand awareness.

Anniversary Celebration

Alternatively, we highly recommend shamelessly supporting yourself! Your loyal fans will come out in spades to help you celebrate your anniversary. This could be a big to-do or you could make it really simple. Just give your patrons a reason to get excited and drink. Can you make a special glass? How about a feature beer? Do you want to bring in local food? Someone to play music? Decide how big you want to go. Regardless, an anniversary celebration is a way to show appreciation to your fans and to mark a major milestone.

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Grace Lee-Weitz
Post by Grace Lee-Weitz
February 25, 2022
Grace is the Managing Editor for Hop Culture and Untappd. She also organizes and produces the largest weeklong women in craft beer festival in the country, Beers With(out) Beards and the first-ever festival celebrating the colorful, vibrant voices in the queer community in craft beer, Queer Beer. An avid craft beer nerd Grace always found a way to work with beer. After graduating with a journalism degree from Northwestern University, she attended culinary school before working in restaurant management. She moonlighted as a brand ambassador at 3 Sheeps Brewing Co on the weekends before moving into the beer industry full time as an account coordinator at 5 Rabbit Cerveceria. Grace holds her Masters degree in the Food Studies program at NYU.