Training your team to promote a venue

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When it comes to launching a new venue, the right promotion is essential if you want to create a buzz and generate footfall. But alongside the usual marketing tools, press releases and an opening party, your team also play a vital part in spreading the word and attracting customers. Here, Louise Stewart (pictured), account director at digital PR agency Tank, explains how you can tap into this talent.

Anyone in the hospitality trade appreciates the meticulous planning that goes into launching and promoting a new pub or bar. Speaking to journalists, building that all-important guest list and hosting a memorable opening night demands expertise, so it’s not surprising that many managers call upon their in-house PR department or an external agency to handle the project.

At the same time, be aware of the role your on-the-ground team plays not only during the launch but also in keeping the momentum going afterwards. Bar teams are major promotional assets and their enthusiasm and impeccable customer service will increase the chances of repeat visits.

Opening a new venue requires a high degree of preparation so it makes sense for PR and event professionals to take the lead. In the weeks beforehand, they can spark interest in relevant publications, run social media campaigns and create a bespoke guest list to ensure your target customers are there on the opening night. At the launch event, they can greet people at the door and co-ordinate the photography to showcase the venue at its best.

A top-down approach certainly helps a launch go without a hitch, however bar staff should also be mobilised to add value to the campaign. If you have a cocktail maestro or a craft beer expert in your ranks, for example, ask them to put on a demonstration during the launch or hold a tasting later on. Not only does this create a talking point on the night or in the office the following day, it also provides valuable social media content.

As part of the project, PR teams are often tasked with promoting key messages and values for the venue. It’s important to ensure that your team are aware and buy into your values, so engage them in conversation about what they mean, and why it is important to uphold them. It may seem obvious, but these people represent the company whenever they are in uniform, speaking to guests at the opening party or posting content on social media. Make sure they know what to say when customers ask a question, and that they always uphold brand values whilst in uniform.

When it comes to promoting a venue, bar teams are well-placed to provide social media content – after all, they are at the centre of it all and can capture an event as it happens or cocktail as it’s poured. Applications like Snapchat’s Geofilters, which can be branded, or Facebook competitions are fun and effective ways of persuading both customers and staff to post pictures online and increase exposure for the venue.

It’s worth remembering that you don’t have to give your staff full access to the venue’s social media channels if you are concerned about unsuitable content or password security. Instead, ask everyone to submit photos and ideas to the marketing department or agency to curate and post.

As with any business, it all comes down to turning your employees into brand ambassadors. In all likelihood, they will be as excited about the launch as you are, so the trick is to tap into this and help them to engage with all promotional activity.

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