Trivia for Venues – Mistakes Not To Make

We supply trivia for venues who’ve run our quiz comps for 20 years on a weekly basis. The goal is profit, it’s achievable. Find out what common mistakes venues make. Get it right.
 A Successful Weekly Trivia Show Requires:

An understanding of both hospitality and marketing and goals.

  1. One night of the week when trade is currently quiet
  2. A room or area that can be made available to play in
  3. A staff member to help the host with prizes & set up

We’ve created thousands of different trivia shows over the last 28 years and can adapt our trivia quiz to all kinds of audiences, but we cannot do your job. Trivia for venues does offer a valuable community service, but it’s not meant to be a charitable donation by the venue.

Trivia should be profitable. If its not, you’re doing something wrong. We know that trivia shows work, because we have many venues that have been running for more than twenty years on a weekly basis. The goal is more profit,  it’s achievable.

People make mistakes, it’s normal. How can new trivia venues not make the same mistakes? Find out what the most common mistakes are and find a means to stop them from happening. Keep reading…

It is a small weekly maintenance job to ensure that a room is ready for the host when he arrives, the staff know when and where trivia is, the host has access to prizes (that cross promote your venues bar and restaurant ie profit), the trivia players are made welcome and have a good time.

If you work for a big company, make a friend at head office. If you work for yourself – delegate as much as possible. Finally if attendance flags – top up on advertising.

Differences Between Trivia Venues

The small city bar, a cafe, a large restaurant, a club, a big pub, retirement villages, community halls, function rooms – trivia comps can be held in all of them, but each trivia venue has a unique set of priorities.

The owner of a small cafe or bar has more control over the venue’s set up but has more competing demands on his time. A manager of a pub or club can delegate staff to organise a quiz show, but is subject to the whims of higher management who may not understand the trivia players need for consistency or the flow on of benefits players offer.

A single quiz night run in a function room is different to a regular weekly quiz night. Small venues with only half a dozen tables are different to large venues looking to attract 60 tables of players. Serious trivia players have different demands for prizes, to people who want to play trivia mainly to have fun.

The Big Club or Pub – Part of a Chain

In a big pub or club, part of a chain owned by a large company, trivia for venues has challenges which can seem insurmountable at ground level. A good manager needs a friend in head office, but head office also needs good managers.

Venues in a group chain often has decisions handed down to them by head office. The venue manager may get a trivia comp approved one week, only to have it disapproved shortly after it’s just getting started, or even after many successful years, due to an arbitrary head office decision.

Often these are accounting department decisions. Accountants don’t understand how trivia for venues works and care even less about customer motivation. They see what appears to be a small cost cut, and the flow on to profit appears invisible to them. Their priority is to cut costs and increase profits, but the path may need pointing out.

Budget decisions can be difficult to argue with a specialist department like accounting. The local manager needs access to a middle manager at head office who can see, or be shown the big picture about trivia for venues. Someone with sufficient power to change such decisions.

An arbitrary quiz comp cancellation can be very frustrating for someone at ground level who has just carefully built up and nurtured a crowd of regular players.

Head office isn’t the only bad guy however. Big pubs and clubs may have a high turnover of staff in individual venues. Managers get promoted quickly and move around. Some managers have a good work ethic and care for the customers. Some make sound financial choices but poor hospitality choices. Some, sadly, neither understand or care about the companies profits or the people who make them.

Consistency of management makes for a stable weekly trivia quiz show and audience. A new young manager may be appointed, with a bright and shiny broom ready to sweep away the dust of a previous managers careful work in a misguided attempt to be modern or more cost effective. The old staff may shake their heads, but few will want to speak up and risk offending the new boss. By the time the new manager understands what he has just lost, the trivia players have moved on to another pub down the road.

The flow on of benefits of trivia for venues are often intangible on paper. Our company have several times had a phone call (and sometimes not even that) to say a venue is suddenly cancelling their trivia comp. In one venue, running successfully for over 6 years, the clubs restaurant manager was left wondering why 60 people had suddenly rung up to cancel their reservations that week.

A club’s reputation can suffer for months after something like this. The players are disappointed and disgruntled. Players are normal club members after all. They don’t just play trivia, they come on the weekend for the entertainment, they come for birthday meals at the restaurant, they come after work for a drink, to play pool or the pokies, and meet their friends. A disappointed player will look for a new place to go. For everything, not just for trivia. If he finds somewhere good, he won’t be back.

Owner Operated Venues

In smaller owner operated venues, trivia comps are easier to start and to run. The owner knows the benefits of trivia comps and is eager to see them. So at the start they are highly pro-active and supportive. They too have a budget however, and may make poor decisions by choosing a  trivia quiz company by cost comparing rather than checking for a normally priced quiz provider with a good reputation.

They may choose to write their own quiz. They may choose to act as their own host.

The hard part for owner operated business venues is that their time may be limited. Small weekly tasks may be soon put aside for “higher priorities”. Trivia players may be shifted to make room for other functions. Their comfort zone may be ignored. Trivia can starve for lack of attention. It doesn’t need much, but like a plant it does need “a little water” on a regular basis.

Better that owner operators start with a good quiz provider and with a small budget for prizes than run themselves ragged taking on extra jobs to save a few dollars. Get the competition up and running, see what’s involved and most people find that picking up the slack when the host is sick is ample to satisfy any desire to be a quizmaster. Writing a quiz can be a trickey and time consuming job to do on a weekly basis. Players are knowledgeable, and sarcastly unforgiving when they get poorly worded questions and out of date answers. Get a pro in to run the quiz and concentrate on cross promotion.

When Trivia Doesn’t Work

It’s rare that a trivia show is cancelled because of poor attendance, but in a few cases this has happened. The main reason is the pub or club has made recent changes – to the room available, the day of the week or time, to costs in house or even a new chef.

Insufficient advertising and marketing is another reason for thin attendance. Just because you have a few tables of trivia players doesn’t mean you have all the trivia players there are in the area. Get the word about, ask staff to let their family and friends know and make up a few teams. Hand out flyers to them and ask them to tell their friends. Put an ad in the school newspaper, a poster in the local corner shop, put your trivia comp on gumtree for a while – fill all your tables.

Sometimes players have a problem with the host, some friction that is unresolved and caused disgruntled players to stay away and tell their friends to blackball the venue. Generally all that is needed to revive a trivia show is good vibes – an apology, a present, a different host, a more hospitable atmosphere, maybe different prizes, and if all else fails – extra advertising to bring in totally new players.

Recently we had a brand new trivia quiz start-up. The venue did very well spreading the word about their trivia competition, so the first night should have been packed. Unfortunately they forgot to spread the word to their staff! Many people were turned away on the phone and at the door because staff members were not informed there was a trivia comp starting there.

So educate your staff and make sure they understand that trivia players are weekly customers and what that potentially means to your venue. Loyal customers are precious as gold. It’s important. Your staff need to know as much as possible to help you to make this work.

Lastly, poor usage of cross promotions have sometimes made venues feel that trivia isn’t worth the cost of it. Well, the next article is all about cross promotion and making sales, so we’ll just say this once again – trivia just brings in the players – what you do with 60 tables filled with people while they are in your venue – is your job.

If you decide to use a Complete Trivia quiz package we offer more specific information about marketing and organizing a trivia show, (including staff education), in a private membership area.

Leave a Reply