Last Updated:
September 6, 2023

How to drive repeat visits through entertainment (7 ideas for bars & restaurants)

Attract repeat customers with entertainment ideas! From live music to trivia nights, keep them coming back for more.
How to drive repeat visits through entertainment (7 ideas for bars & restaurants)
Bogdan Patynski
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It’s not enough to serve great food and drinks at competitive prices, and hope for a second visit. Today, what brings guests back for repeat visits is the overall customer experience. Research by Walker predicts that by 2020, the customer experience will overtake price and product as the primary brand value that customers seek.

So, what exactly goes into a great customer experience? It’s everything from your venue’s atmosphere to the service your team provides. Many bars and restaurants are discovering the power of entertainment to enhance the customer experience – and drive repeat visits.

Facebook proved the power of entertainment to inspire repeat visits and brand loyalty. They asked 14,000+ adults to describe businesses they like best – the top word used was “quality,” followed by “fun.” Read on for 7 ideas that will inject fun and entertainment into your concept, and earn those repeat visits you deserve!

1) To Increase Repeat Visits, Make Happy Hour…Happier (and More Entertaining)

Most people like to have a happy hour “home base.” It’s the Cheers concept: we all want a place where everyone knows our name. In fact, a study by Technomic found that for 61% of customers, happy hour is truly a social hour. Patrons come in to either meet up with friends or hang with coworkers.

To enhance the social element and drive repeat visits, many bars and restaurants are adding entertainment ideal for big groups of people. It could be as simple as bringing out board games. If you have an outdoor space, set up any of these 20 patio games like giant-sized Scrabble, Jenga, or checkers. Or, go a step further to win repeat visits with an organized game like retro-cool bingo or something unexpected like happy hour karaoke.

2) Cater to the Kids

Struggling with midweek business? Families can give you the repeat visits you crave, but you’ve got to know one thing: today, kids call the shots. According to Technomic’s recent Generational Report, 43% of parents let their kids pick where to dine out. And kids want fun (and chicken tenders) above all things.

An easy way to add entertainment and boost repeat visits is to designate one weeknight as “family night” or “kid’s night.” Each week, bring in an entertainer: a magician, puppeteer, musician, or a (non-creepy) clown. The entertainer can travel to each table, doing balloon art or performing a magic trick.

What’s another option to raise your fun factor and increase repeat visits with families? Let kids get involved with prepping their meal. It could be a “pizza kit” where kids put their toppings on the pizza, and the waiter brings it back to the kitchen for prepping. Or, how about a DIY sundae kit? Kids can divvy up their own toppings from a personal tray loaded with sweets for the table.

3) Live Trivia for the Win

Live trivia is the correct answer to slow nights, and a lack of repeat visits. Popular everywhere from college campuses to neighborhood watering holes, live trivia is a must if you want to see a rise in midweek business. The latest twist on live trivia is a new way to play the game: players use tablets or their smartphones to instantly submit answers instead of pen and paper.

This tech-forward live trivia method speeds up gameplay, and gives players a chance to socialize and have fun instead of running answer sheets up to the host. For proof that this tech-enhanced live trivia results in an uptick of repeat visits, JR’s Pub in South Carolina kicked off a recurring Wednesday trivia night and saw an overall 30% increase in business.

4) Aim for the Big Leagues with Bar Games

While live trivia is a proven way to earn repeat visits, there are other competitive games that can draw a crowd on a regular basis. Let’s start with cornhole. Indoors or out, this bean bag toss game is the latest trend in bar and restaurant entertainment. While dart leagues are still going strong with baby boomers, you might attract more repeat visits from millennials with a bar games league featuring cornhole, flip cup, KAN-JAM, ring toss, and other backyard games.

Speaking of leagues and repeat visits, market your venue as a great place to catch all the NFL action. You’ll bring in diehard football fans as well as those who participate in a Fantasy Football league.

5) Get Things Poppin’ to Boost Repeat Visits

Pop-up shops are popping up everywhere, from city streets to restaurants, and can be an effective way to encourage repeat visits. Here’s how it works. A local retailer like a jewelry, clothing brand, product line, or a beauty supply company sets up a small shop in your venue. (Or, you can even “pop up” in their space!) To cultivate repeat visits, feature a rotating lineup of pop-up shops that come in once or twice a month.

Some bars even build their entire brand around the pop-up concept. They completely change the theme of their venue every few months – bringing in new décor, menu items, entertainment, and repeat visits in the process. For example, Tinsel in Philadelphia transformed into a Halloween-themed experience for fall 2019.

6) A Classy Way to Draw More Repeat Visits

It’s time to school your customers in fun. How? By hosting instructor-led classes and workshops! First, turn to your team. Do you have a charismatic bartender or chef who might like to teach customers how to whip up a martini or cook perfect al dente pasta? Cooking and bartending classes are extremely trendy right now at restaurants and bars.

If you want the benefit of repeat visits but aren’t interested in running the class, you can hire Yaymaker. This nationwide company can hook you up with an instructor who leads attendees in painting a masterpiece or potting at terrarium to take home.

7) Good Cause. Good Fun. It’s a Win-Win.

Show your heart for causes that your customers care about, and you’ll be rewarded with repeat visits. Edelman research revealed that 64% of customers choose which businesses to frequent based on whether or not that business supports worthy causes.

Once a week or month, run a “charity night” where you support a local non-profit. Let customers nominate the charities. Then, plan an event for the evening. It could be a competitive trivia event, where different charities face off – with the highest-scoring team receiving a donation from the restaurant.

Or, drive repeat visits by letting each charity send in a guest bartender who collects tips for that non-profit. Charity auctions are always a good time: you could auction off a date with one of your single servers or bartenders.

Ultimately, what earns repeat visits is the overall customer experience that you provide: from how you greet guests as they walk in the door, to entertainment opportunities that can enhance their visit. So what are you waiting for? Let the fun and games begin…

When you prioritize customer enjoyment through entertainment, you're also prioritizing your ROI. Expect to see your ROI boosted by customers who return for the delightful experiences your venue provides.


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