Cluboid knows that the nightlife business is difficult, that’s why we made it our business to help venues raise the bar on service standards. Check out our 5 surefire ways for even better bottle service using software savvy and market analysis.

How to Improve your Bottle service

We’ve seen the music videos, we’ve seen it in real life - we know the deal. Ginormous sparklers stuffed into oversized vodka bottles making their way through a crowd towards a particularly flashy looking table. Other variations are more discrete: a few bottles of champagne left chilling on ice for a suave looking gentleman to arrive with a female on each arm. Then you have your group of girls or guys who paid ahead because they’ve done the calculations, and it actually works out cheaper to spring for a few bottles at the table because it happens to waive the entry fee.

Bottle service is everywhere. It used to be a premiere service for patrons, but now anyone with a calculator or mate on the door can have it. The danger in that, is your staff then don’t take it so seriously, and your paying customers no longer receive the deluxe ‘service’ that they’ve shelled out for. If the experience doesn’t remain somewhat special, then that’s only going to see a fairly rapid decline in your sales figures. As clubs up their bottle service game, offering additional entertainment, gimmicks and displays - you need also find ways to revitalise yours, helping you stay in line (or rather ahead) of your competitors. ‘How?’ you might ask… well pull up a chair, because here are 5 pointers for super special bottle service:

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1. Study your target market

Guess what kind of venue you run without customers? A closed one. It may on paper, belong to you, but what should really govern your sales and marketing strategies is your audience. They should tell you everything you need to know about what kind of category your venue falls into, and exactly how bottle service should be run in light of that. It may not be what you want to hear but you cannot refute hard data. Calculate a customers’ average spend based on your current bar prices, entry, cloakroom etc. and make it marginally better value to book the table instead of entering as a regular patron. Make your package costs proportionate and relative. Really take the time to study your audience - and we’re not talking vague generalisations - we’re talking identifying your loyal and regular guests, your big spenders, your seasonal visitors. Savvy CRM software can help you easily gather, monitor and store this kind of information.

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2. Make use of a booking platform

If you’re still scrabbling to locate scraps of paper or wrestling over the weekly diary clutching onto the tiny remains of an over-sharpened pencil, then you need to up your management game. It’s 2016, everything is digital these days. Using Email is even a somewhat archaic now, and still runs the risk of things such as double bookings and unseen requests. We know how manic things can become but being on the ball with what the customer has requested is exactly the kind of thing that people are prepared to pay the extra for. How could you possibly be expected to have to sieve through all sorts of emails just incase there’s been some kind of update - let alone notify all of your staff of the amendments. With first rate bottle service, you cannot afford to let a request slip through the net. Be business smart and integrate a reservation platform that allows login access to all of your staff, and provides an interactive diary with live updates and a notification centre. A good one will show you exactly which tables are still available, for when, notify you if you’re approaching capacity and prevent any booking clashes. Not only does it make things a lot more simple, but you’ve actually bought back staff time purely by implementing one of these. If linked to your POS for (taking deposits/bottle payments etc.) it can also be used for data capture which helps you even more with step 1.

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3. Get personal

There’s nothing more off-putting as a customer than feeling like you’re just a transaction. So for bottle service it is even more important that your customers never so much as suspect that this could be the case. You pay for a deluxe service to be treated as a VIP, after all. What else comes with being a VIP? Recognition. And unless you’re Kim Kardashian, your staff probably won’t recognise a big spender from a first-timer at the door or the bar. That is unless you make optimum use of that CRM platform. That’ll mean they’re greeted as soon as they arrive, they’re taken to their specially selected spot where their requested drinks are on ice and can even be seen to by their favourite waiter or waitress. Some super forward-thinking software will even pull customer images from your customers’ social media to help your staff greet them by name, for that extra touch of personalisation. It’ll also store a load of info on that customers’ past purchases so you’ll be even more equipped to upsale, boosting sales numbers. You’ll find that engaging with a customer by name, and picking them out of the crowd by their face alone, will generate an astonishing feeling of loyalty to your venue. It also gives you another opportunity to make the customer feel extra special.

4. Supply and Demand

If you know that every other Saturday, Mr X comes by to blow off some steam with a few bottles of your top-shelf liquor, then you know that come that Saturday, you’d better have some in the back. Analytics are everything in a high-turnover, fast-moving business like nightlife. You need to tailor your inventory to be prepared for your venues’ trends, and it is nearly impossible to know what to order without looking at the precedent. Inspect your numbers, stock up on bottles you note your regulars are drinking most often, and always cater to your big-spenders - even as a contingency. Analytics will help you make practical, data-driven decisions, resulting in higher turnover and far less wastage.

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5. Make marketing specific

Use data to market specifically to those who you know your events and products will appeal to. If a regular customer loves experimenting with different varieties of vodka, make sure you reach out to them when you’re stocking a new brand. If you routinely send over bottles of whiskey to a table, get in touch with those patrons as they might be interested in attending your whiskey-tasting night. Use the info you have collated to push sales even further. This will improve your bottle service by making sure your customers know you’re on the ball and have their interests in mind. Nothing says ‘we value you’ more than a personal recommendation demonstrating you remember what they enjoy. It’ll also stop them receiving irrelevant marketing spam which can quickly rub people up the wrong way, potentially condemning you to the junk folder forevermore.

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Your CRM will have stored all this info, and can text and/or email specific people based on their stored activity such as spending habits, favourite purchases and frequency of visits.

In Summary...

For the first class bottle service experience, you must ensure that there is an element of ‘wow’ to it. We’re not suggesting you should hire a brass band, or a team of stunt doves that you’ve spray-painted gold to deliver bottles to your tables, here. ‘Wow’ can just as easily come from being impressed by your venue’s level of efficiency, accuracy and little thoughtful touches. Determining a bottle service strategy that works for your brand can be very lucrative. After all, if someone’s invested in a bottle, it is quite unlikely they’ll leave (even if they wanted to) until it’s been demolished. They may be inclined to spend even more. It also ensures your venue stays full which in turn, does wonders for marketing and social media. After all, what’s going to have a better effect on publicity? ‘4 people have been tagged in your album from Saturday Night or rather 600 people, 120 likes and 10 shares? That’s what we thought. ‘Garcon, another bottle of your finest… oh silly me, you know what I drink!’

About the Author

Laura Phelps is a regular writer at Cluboid focused on helping large and small businesses achieve better bookings and reservations.

You can read more posts by Laura on our blog.

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