4 Most Creative & Effective Customer Loyalty Programs – Part 2

McMenamins Passport

If you missed our first article with examples and great ideas from East coast to West, check it out here. If you’ve already read part 1, you can skip down to the examples from Hawaii & the Pacific NW on how Independent Venues get more customers in their door, make them happy, keep them coming back for more, and increase word-of-mouth marketing.

RECAP: How much does it cost to get a new customer vs. keep an existing customer?

  • It costs FIVE TIMES more to get a new customer than keep a current customer, but most of us (40%) focus on getting new customers instead of focusing on retention (18%).
  • You can increase your profits by 25-95% with just a 5% increase in customer retention
  • Loyal customers are 5x more likely to repurchase, 5x more likely to forgive, 4x more likely to refer, and 7x (!!) more likely to try a new offer.

But, do those customer loyalty card programs or point systems actually work? And, if those little scanner/punch cards don’t work, WHY don’t they work?

RECAP: Why does a customer loyalty program matter?

Local restaurants and bars have (at least) 3 things in their favor over goliath corporations:

  1. Proximity to customer’s homes/work
  2. Face to face encounters with real people
  3. Customers might bump into their friends.

Key Points:

  • It matters to do something creative, unique, and if possible, tangible: this gives your customer a sense of ownership. If they can touch it, bring it home, or put their name on it, it’s like taking a little slice of their favorite place home with them.
  • Customer loyalty programs don’t have to be FREE…Remember, you value what you pay for. Unlike punch cards and grocery point systems, the most effective loyalty programs for restaurants and bars are those where people actually pay for the privilege to: be first, make a reservation, or have their name etched in glass on a wall.

4 Impressive Customer Loyalty Programs: 
Creative, Effective Customer Loyalty programs to improve customer retention.

Since you go through great lengths to be unique, from your craft cocktail menu to your Drag Queen Bingo Brunch…we found some of the most ‘crafted-with-love’ loyalty programs from east coast to well beyond the west coast.  Keep reading to see how they do it.

Kona, HI (The Big Island): home of free-flowing lava, host to the Ironman World Championship, where the aloha spirit is alive and well.

Ola Brewing Co – MUG CLUB

 “If you move to the island I suggest you purchase their mug club card for $100 a year. You flash this card & it doubles the size of your beverage without an additional charge.” – Colleen, happy customer on yelp.

This happy customer summed it up with their 5 star review, making it sound like a no-brainer for locals. With card-carrying members, Ola Brewing Co has created a community of regulars that benefit the more they come.  But more than that, they have created a sense of ownership and identity with a card that they carry with them where’er they go. 

This is priceless.  But of course, they are also getting a steady stream of upfront income, and a guarantee of repeat purchases.

There is no way to steer wrong with this idea.  There are no straight freebies…just a little extra love in a glass.  And we all know that you can’t drink a frosty beverage without a salty side….and preferably a friend.

Medford, OR

Copper Plank – MUG CLUB

We also talked to Copper Plank, an AmptUp VIP Venue, who hosts an elegant version of the Mug Club with glass mugs locally etched with the member’s name and the year they joined. This becomes a symbol of pride for regulars as the years wear on.

 “The culture it creates is pretty powerful,” says co-owner Amy Maukonen.  “If a new regular starts to come in…they’re pretty welcoming, but you’ll hear the other regulars say ‘Hey, why don’t you have a mug with your name on it?’  It becomes an investment, like: ‘We believe in you and we’re part of this community.’  It’s a sign of loyalty to us, while also bringing a sense of ownership of the shared community space,” she continued.


  • Mugs with names/dates are prominently displayed on a shelf as their permanent home, until renewal.
  • Members get an extra 4oz when ordering (and paying for) a pint with their mug.
  • Mug Club renewal happens the month of Jan – so it helps bring in revenue during a typically slow month.
  • Non-renewals get to take their mug home with them.
  • ~50% of mugs get used on a weekly basis
  • Currently at about 50 ppl, they want to grow and cap it at 100 (which may give it an air of exclusivity, a true ‘club.’)

Things to consider?:

There are some tricky logistics that can be “a pain in the rear,” according to Maukonen – ie:

  • the storage of the mugs
  • because it’s a specialty item, what do you do if/when it breaks and it needs to be replaced
  • the renewal can be really messy if there’s not a reliable way to track this
  • Figuring out the marketing for the program and staff expectations for renewals and non renewals.
Copper Plank Mug Club glass mugs chilling on the shelf
Copper Plank Mug Club glass mugs chilling on the shelf with your ‘call sign’ and the year you joined.

Oregon & Washington: Home to all things W.I.E.R.D. (Wild, innovative, eclectic, revolutionary, disruptive)


This passport brings out the hidden gamer in all of us.  Tapping into a gamification strategy isn’t new, but it’s well done at McMenamins. 

For a little background, McMenamins is an entertainment, dining, and drinking staple in the Pac NW. Virtually every man, woman, and child who has lived here has visited more than one McMenamins.  These renovated historic buildings, their creative entertainment, unique art, and ambiance wraps you in (a distillery? A wine barrel aging room with live music in an old work house? A Roman-style soaking pool in an old elementary school? A cigar lounge in the engine room?).

To have created this concept in the first place is a beautiful feat. To turn this into an almost 60 Venue regional chain, with each location as beloved by its community, as the next? Unbelievable.

Because they have so many incredible locations, they created a clever way to help their fans get the fullest experience. The Details:

  1. Participants pay $35 for a physical passport booklet,
  2. They visit locations between Oregon & Washington to collect their stamps.
  3. They can collect stamps by making a purchase or by completing a clue/task for that location, earning a prize when all stamps for the region have been collected…and a title to boot.

Because you don’t value what you don’t pay for, The $35 paid for these “just-for-fun, I-was-there-and-I-can-prove-it stamps,”  elicits commitment and excitement – getting their feet through the doors at as many locations as possible.

McMenamins Passport with stamps
McMenamins Passport with stamps for all of their 60+ OR & WA locations

Here are some hallmarks of this effective program.

First, they have a dedicated page for the program:

It often happens that Venues don’t update their sites, let alone mention their loyalty program. (If you’re not updating your website because it’s confusing, someone else controls it, or you don’t even know where to start – it’s time to get a new website. With sites like squarespace and Wix, you can have a gorgeous, easily managed site up in about 30 minutes, for less than $20/mo.)

Something Tangible:

As with any good game that goes down in history…there is something tangible, a little piece of the experience that people can take home with them and own. The passport and stamps act as physical game board, if you will (move over Monopoly).


Oh yes…of course, there has to be SOMETHING! (free tots, burgers, appetizers, goodies, exclusive Passport pint glasses, T-shirts, a growler and other merch.)


McMenamins goes beyond the simple satisfaction of a full book of stamps and prizes, full passport owners get ‘crowned’ as an official “Cosmic Tripster.”

Proper Rules:

Any good game needs rules…in writing! In an official location (the website). If you’re going to do it, do it right, am-I-right? See McMenamins rules here.

The Unique Sauce:

  • Adventure and travel (real not just imagined!).
  • Competition to get all of the stamps – self-motivated or with a friend.

Make it your own

So, few of us have 60 locations.  But, a sense of competition, a tangible piece of the experience, or being ranked or celebrated…are things you can incorporate that would keep customers coming back.

Create a passport with various tasks to complete, games to be won, or drinks to be tried.  Make the stamps unique (you can even get custom stamps on Amazon!) or even make it ceremonious with a dripped wax seal stamp (find options here or at Portland’s coolest print shop Oblation).  And don’t forget to either charge for it, or make ‘em work a little…that’s what makes it worth it! That’s what forms the CLUB.

Read Part 1 with Other Examples

Curious to see what the first 2 examples were? Check out part 1 of our Membership and Loyalty Programs Inspiration series.

  • Read about Multnomah Whiskey Library’s $800 yearly membership club, and how it sold out in the first year with a 3 year waiting list.
  • Read about the Fernet Members Club and it’s wall of liquor.

What is AmptUp?

AmptUp is the online booking tool that supports independent music Venues and helps them streamline booking, saving literal hours every week. Whether Musicians contact you, or you find them, with AmptUp you can:

  • Send and finalize booking offers FAST – 3 min. instead of 3 weeks.
  • Reduce the email overwhelm
  • Give Musicians everything they need automatically
  • Create a single source of truth for your team and the Musicians’
  • Get Musician assets WHEN the show is booked
Book fast and clear with AmptUp, so you can focus on promoting the show or running the business.


4 Most Creative & Effective Customer Loyalty Programs

Fernet Branca Italian liqueur bottles on a shelf

How much does it cost to get a new customer vs. keep the old ones?

It costs FIVE TIMES more to get a new customer than keep a current customer, but most of us (40%) focus on getting new customers instead of focusing on retention (18%).

Here are a few other facts that could be critical to your business:

  • You can increase your profits by 25-95% with just a 5% increase in customer retention
  • Loyal customers are 5x more likely to repurchase, 5x more likely to forgive, 4x more likely to refer, and 7x (!!) more likely to try a new offer.

But, do those customer loyalty card programs or point systems actually work? Do they get people to come back? I usually lose any cards before they make it to my key chain.

Since you go through great lengths to be unique, from your craft cocktail menu to your Drag Queen Bingo Brunch…we found some of the most ‘crafted-with-love’ loyalty programs from east coast to well beyond the west coast.  Keep reading to see how they do it.

Why does a customer loyalty program matter?

I like getting my fuel points and flight miles as much as the next person, but do local restaurants really get a boost from loyalty programs? Local restaurants and bars can benefit from customer loyalty programs MORE than goliath corporations because they have (at least) 3 things in their favor:

  • Proximity to customer’s homes/work
  • Face to face encounters with real people
  • Customers might bump into their friends

And here’s why it matters to do something creative, unique, and if possible, tangible: this gives your customer a sense of ownership.  If they can touch it, bring it home, or put their name on it, it’s like taking a little slice of their favorite place home with them.

Customer loyalty programs don’t have to be FREE…Remember, you value what you pay for. The most effective loyalty programs are often those where people actually pay for the privilege to: be first, make a reservation, or have their name hand-written in ink on a wall.

4 Impressive Customer Loyalty Programs:

Newport, RI: Tourist Hotspot, Quaint Town, Playground of the Rich & Famous (from the Gilded Age to present)


From the Rockefellers to Taylor Swift, Newport has hosted the rich and famous, as well as everyday workers.  While most VIP programs give exclusivity that is meant to be private, Stoneacre Brasserie created a loyalty program that was meant to be shared and seen. Their highly visible Fernet Club created an instant “What is that?” “I want one!” customer loyalty program.  I spoke with Chris Bender (a former New York restauranteur and owner of 4 Newport restaurants), to learn more.

Fernet Branca (fur-nette) is an Italian brand liqueur that has “become a bartenders’/hipsters’ drink of choice” with an aggressive, unique flavor, sporting notes of Anise, bitter citrus, and a subtly sweet finish. Stoneacre’s Fernet Club allows customers to buy a bottle at a significant cost savings, put their name on it and place it on the wall.  When they’re ready to drink, they just pull it right off the wall, and enjoy.  Some members even call in to offer a shot from their bottle for friends who are visiting.

“It actually started by accident 4-5 years ago, but then we sold 50 bottles in the first 2 weeks. It gives people a sense of ownership and a way to love you even more than they already do,” says Bender. 

Fernet Branca bottles of Italian liqueur on a shelf at Stoneacre Brasserie in Newport RIFernet Branca Italian liqueur bottles on a shelf 

Portland, OR: Hipster Haven, Nature’s Playground, the “Silicon Forest,” home to the World’s Largest Naked Bike Ride.


ONE year after opening in 2013, the wait list for a membership was over 700 people, but now the waitlist is over 3 years long.  To be clear, this wait list was not for a reservation, no, their innovation was much more clever and effective: their wait list was for the ability to HAVE a reservation. Multnomah Whiskey Library completely reinvented the concept of membership, previously known to the stuffier private clubs that have never soared in popularity in Portland.  A membership lets you skip the line where waits for a bar could be up to 3 hours.

With around 1,500 labels, about 900 of which are whiskeys, the Multnomah Whiskey Library has become one of the most prized locations to drink and talk shop about, you guessed it, whiskey.  So dedicated to the spirit are they, that a series of art was commissioned to portray the major historical influencers of whiskey production: from tuxedo-clad Phylloxera beetle to some of the greats.  

And now?: “The waits are still long, the bartenders are still dashing, and memberships are still as hard to come by as a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle.” (pdx eater)

Current cost:

The current fee for MWL’s annual individual membership is $800, plus a one-time $199 setup fee for new members.  Add a Member’s spouse/partner to for an additional annual fee of $175. Corporate memberships begin at $2,900.

How to craft the perfect Membership Program

So what does a membership get you?  Of course, paying hundreds of dollars per year in Portland MUST come with something more than the ability to create a reservation, and so it does.  However, these items don’t need to cost Venue owners a hefty price. Get some ideas from MWL.

At Multnomah Whiskey Library, members are entitled to:

  • make reservations (in the bar, or private event spaces)
  • access the private Member Lounge,
  • get exclusive access to Single Barrel offerings, tastings and other events
  • Valet park for free
  • Priority access to rent a Spirit Locker
  • Access reciprocal clubs around the world
  • Nominate friends and family for membership, shortening their wait
  • Join members-only events, classes, pairing dinners, as well as networking and volunteer opportunities
  • Access exclusive member trips exploring iconic distilleries, towns, and local excursions.
  • Two Member Hall Passes per year, so friends and family can make a reservation
  • A complimentary drink of your choosing on your birthday ($20 value).
  • Member discounts including discounted room fees for private events.
A twist on traditional membership:

However, if you feel like the vibe of VIP-members-access doesn’t fit your Venue, take another look at their, once again, unique approach.  In admirable Portland style, their memberships aren’t just for the hoity toity men of means…they openly value diversity and community service and even bump people higher on the wait list for embracing those values.

Priority access can be granted for the following reasons. If you:

  • “demonstrate a commitment to your community through donation, volunteering, advocacy.”
  • “reflect our community and embody diversity of thought as well as a wide range of human experiences, values and perspectives.”
  • know a member who can nominate you.

And yes…they have been known to RECEIVE, but not take, subtle bribe offers to scoot past the membership wait list.


Multnomah whiskey Library wall of whiskey in Portland, OR
Multnomah whiskey Library wall of whiskey in Portland, OR, famous for their Whiskey and their 3 year member’s club waiting list.


We hate to leave you hanging, but an exciting part deux will be coming next, to bring you the other two most creative customer loyalty programs for customer retention.

But good things come to those who wait, just like… (say it with me:  Beetlejuice part 2!! Coming 2024.).


What is AmptUp?

AmptUp is the online booking tool that supports independent music Venues and helps them streamline booking, saving literal hours every week. Whether Musicians contact you, or you find them, with AmptUp you can:

  • Send and finalize booking offers FAST – 3 min. instead of 3 weeks.
  • Reduce the email overwhelm
  • Give Musicians everything they need automatically
  • Create a single source of truth for your team and the Musicians’
  • Get Musician assets WHEN the show is booked
Book fast and clear with AmptUp, so you can focus on promoting the show or running the business.


Why COVID Outdoor Seating Structures May Be Killing Your Visibility

Covid outdoor seating structures are common in the US

Since COVID is over… can we say that?

Fingers Crossed.  Deep Breath. 

With COVID largely behind us…we need to start reevaluating the “desperate times call for desperate measures” efforts that Venues everywhere made to stay alive.  

During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, seating outside wasn’t just an option, but a necessity… to earn at least some profit while adhering to safety guidelines.  We want to take a look at the ‘Street Seats’ Structures that provided vital outdoor seating and see how they can IMPROVE Venue business, instead of block it.  

Everyone Likes Outdoor Seating, What’s the Problem?

“Street Seats” parking structures provide important additional seats for revenue, but in many cases that we witness, also often completely block the businesses that they serve – not only the front door, but generally the windows and even the business name signage…and even more importantly, the view of customers inside eating and drinking – which serves as critical social proof – the invitation to come in and do the same.

And unfortunately, many of these structures also block the view of patrons enjoying their food and beverage inside the structure (due to opaque plastic or wood), or they sit empty during winter months.

The big question is are those COVID outdoor seating structures helping or hurting your business? (Note:  we are not talking about parking structure seating that sits on a side street and do not block a corner restaurant’s view.) 

Covid outdoor seating structures are common in the US

Europe vs. America on Outdoor Seating

In Europe, outdoor seating is practically a must-have for all Venues. Wide sidewalks downtown and no-traffic zones mean that every morning they roll out their chairs and tables on pathways that are 20-40′ wide (or 6-10 M) – compared to 8’ (less than 3M)  in America (We enjoyed wide sidewalks once too! Be sure to catch the video of the Victorian Era lady having a Marilyn Monroe moment at min 1:20). 

Unfortunately in America, cramming diners up against the noisy, splashing traffic, leaving narrow sidewalks for pedestrians to squeeze past is a 100% US experience; but it doesn’t have to be that way.  The “parklets,” as some call them, give us a big opportunity.

European style outdoor seating structures
European style outdoor seating where wide sidewalks and plazas abound

How to Get the Parking Patio of Your Dreams

Since many in the business community have fought hard to get the right for these parklets, and if we’re taking inspiration from Europe, let’s look at how to make it better in the here and now.

Chop off the top…that’s right, just chop it off 

The main problem with these parking structures is that it blocks your business, AND the “social proof” benefit that passersby get when seeing other people inside. (And outdoor diners are often not visible due to opaque walls and plastic) You can protect diners from traffic splashes and exhaust with a lower-level wall or planters, while still making it inviting.  

Try to keep walls or planters to no more than chest high for the seated diner, to preserve visibility of your business and happy outdoor diners.

Consider renovating

Does your parking seating structure match your brand? If not, consider a few improvements to make outdoor diners feel as special as the ones enjoying your carefully crafted ambiance inside.  (Unfortunately, these spaces are hard to protect when business is closed, so keep tagging, theft, breakage in mind in terms of replacement cost.) Here are a few ideas that won’t break the bank:

  • Try adding some fun tile to the walls or floor
  • Remove the walls and replace them with lower level planters 
  • Add your business name & messaging to the OUTSIDE (street side) of the planters or walls
  • Start with a coat of paint, which can go a long way (keep extra on hand in case you get tagged)
  • Remove the roof and replace with a few poles to string lights across to your entrance (check city regs) to draw attention at night.

Here’s Some Inspiration…

In Portland: 

Cafe Nell literally rolled out the red carpet, and put extra thought into their Outdoor seating structures, creating a street parking patio and sacrificing their entire parking lot, but also increasing capacity by 3 or 4 times. 

Not only are there red carpets, but also adorable cafe style tables and chairs, hanging plants, a fountain (to drown out road noise), chandeliers, and even a beautiful big bar in their lockable parking lot conversion.

Rolling out the red carpets in Portland, OR at Cafe Nell.
Rolling out the red carpets in Portland, OR at Cafe Nell.

In Boston:

Take a look at this Boston Venue (Lolita Back Bay – we salute you!) with gorgeous outdoor seating that seems to slow down traffic, and take advantage of the trees on a hot summer day.  It looks more like a beautiful home patio than a box to prevent people from disease.

Boston Venue Lolita Back Bay Mexican Restaurant has a beautiful street seat parking patio.
Boston Venue Lolita Back Bay Mexican Restaurant has a beautiful street seat parking patio.
Boston Venue (Lolita Back Bay - we salute you!) beautiful plantings make a perfect parking patio.
Boston Venue (Lolita Back Bay – we salute you!) beautiful plantings make a perfect parking patio.
Parking meters encased in wood in the parking patio
(just in case you weren’t sure if this was a real patio, there are historical markers)
white wall parking seating structure in front of Saltie Girl Boston
Here’s a different parking seating structure at Saltie Girl in Boston – all they need is their name across that white wall!


REFERENCE: What are the Costs for Venue Outdoor Seating

During COVID the added revenue from patrons who would not have come, if not for the outdoor seating, made the “street seats” parking structure a no-brainer.  

Here are some ongoing costs to consider: 

    • Weatherproofing and maintaining for winter dining, with heating (fuel) and protection from rain.

Also, if you use your outdoor space for live music events. Cities like San Francisco require you to get a permanent or temporary entertainment permit for the outdoor space.


5 Free Tools to Triple Your Ticket Sales on Eventbrite

Knowing how to increase ticket sales on Eventbrite is essential for Independent venues.

There are a lot of ticketing tools out there. A LOT. We are ticketing agnostic, but since many of you are using Eventbrite, or contemplating using it, we want to show you how to get the most bang for your buck.

(Looking for ticketing software? We found this insanely long list of options.)

Increase your ticket sales on eventbrite!

I know…I do it too…

I usually sign up for a tool and learn the bare-minimum necessary to make it function and do the one thing I need it to do.

Ie: “Eventbrite, I need you to sell tickets when someone clicks the link. Do that and we’ll be good.”

I treat these Jetsons-style modern technologies like they’re wall-hanging phones and can do only one thing.

But, I’ve learned over the years that tech companies are spending millions of dollars and hours to make this tool incredible and unbeatable for…ME. To make my life easier…if I’d only let it.  So, let’s collectively make the shift to invest our time and energy in a tool and make it work hard for the money! Let’s dive in.   

Knowing WHEN to market is key to increasing ticket sales on Eventbrite

According to Eventbrite data, the sales peaks should be one of the most important determining factors of your event marketing lifecycle. 

Understanding what these are when they occur is a key factor to increasing ticket sales on Eventbrite.

The stages of the ticket sale process: 

(per Eventbrite)
  1. Announcement phase  
  2. On-sale phase  
  3. Maintenance phase  
  4. Closeout phase  

Here is a breakdown of the ticket sales peaks, for the biggest event types.   

Festivals – 15% of tickets are sold during the first week, 1% of tickets are bought during the ticket-release stages in between, and 24% during the last week. Based on that information, you as a venue owner or a festival organizer can distribute your marketing budget more effectively.   

So, for the festivals – especially ones with tiered ticket pricing, the ad spend would be ideally broken down like so: 

  • Announcement – 10%   
  • 1st tier ticket promotion – 30% on-sale   
  • 2nd tier ticket promotion – 10%  
  • 3rd tier ticket group – 10%   

Family-friendly events – Families tend to plan things ahead. For this reason, you should focus your advertising effort on trying to boost your ticket sales in the earliest stages (the event is announced, and the first tickets go on sale.) The remaining ad budget goes equally to the maintenance campaigns and closeout ads.   

Nightlife or weekend events with last-minute fans – Among 2,000 Americans Eventbrite included in their survey, 43% plan their night out up to 3 days in advance, from Wednesday onward. Most of the survey participants, 19% of them, plan their night out on Thursday.   

Comedy shows attract last-minute ticket buyers– On average, they sell only 6% of tickets in the first week. The overwhelming majority of tickets – 75% – are sold during the last week. Even more surprising is that 31% of comedy show tickets are sold on the day of the event!   

Now that you’re familiar with when most tickets are sold, let’s dive into ways to boost your ticket sales during peak periods.

1. Add Eventbrite promotion codes & bundling

People love a good deal.

Finding a good deal or being the recipient of a good deal makes you feel special – like an explorer that found a treasure, lucky (and everyone loves that feeling), knowledgeable, or even loved for your loyalty. So, starting with the easiest tip and tool: create a promotion code directly on Eventbrite to maximize that feel-good feeling.   

This is a key element in figuring out how to increase ticket sales.

While it may seem counter-intuitive, price discounts can increase ticket sales on Eventbrite, and your revenue too. However, think about your goals for having and using promo codes so you don’t run the risk of creating extra work for yourself AND losing revenue. The goal may feel obvious: boost your ticket sales. But it may also be to increase loyalty or reward evangelists.

Strategy: Ways to use a promo code?

Create promo codes as an early bird discount, as a flash sale (perfect around the holiday gifting times), for off-nights, or by creating hidden offers that only VIPs can access
(maybe these are members of a loyalty program, influencers you want to win over).

Perhaps you have a VIP club of fans, and after their 5th show, they get a promo code that opens secret tickets with benefits. Maybe you want to invite key press or influencers and want to treat them to a special VIP experience with FREE drinks – create a unique code just for them – here’s how. 

 How to add Eventbrite Promotion codes to your event

2. Add a retargeting pixel to the Eventbrite ticketing page to track interested window shoppers

Retargeting, especially setting up retargeting audiences from all the platforms you use, might sound scary. BUT. “Retargeted fans are 70% more likely to buy tickets”, Eventbrite research reports!   

Since this is one of THE MOST USEFUL things you can do to push your marketing to the next level, let’s break down why to use it, how, and what you need to start a retargeting campaign for your event.  

Retargeting enables you to show ads to window-shoppers, i.e., the people who saw your ad or landed organically on your website, the Eventbrite event, or Facebook event pages, but didn’t buy a ticket or RSVPed. A little cookie will follow them out of your site and keep the anonymized data on every user and their actions (more on this in a minute.) The best thing is, the Facebook pixel, for example, will track all interactions on your business page, FB event page, or website and all your integrations (from Eventbrite pages to simple registration forms) so all your contact points with a potential customer are covered with one tracking pixel, visible in one activity dashboard

How to create a tracking pixel and what it can do

This process is a bit more involved.  First, you first need to create a pixel if you don’t have one, and then you can create ads on Facebook, Twitter, or Google targeting your window shoppers by connecting the ads to those who have been on pages with your pixel.  

Once you have a tracking pixel installed on all your major marketing points, you’ll also get a wealth of data on people who visit your website and event pages, including how many people added it to their calendar, looked you up on the map, initiated a purchase but didn’t finish, and much much more. This concrete data enables you to build better campaigns in the future, see where your bottlenecks are, and even how people behave on your landing pages.   

The most common, and by far the easiest, way to add a new tracking pixel (if you already don’t have one) is to create a Facebook pixel.  However, you can create tracking pixels for your ads with Google, Facebook/Instagram, Twitter and more. 

We’ve put together a detailed ‘how to’ here.

3. Connect with Fans through Email marketing on Eventbrite

You’d be surprised at how many Venues don’t use their email list as much as they should or at all.

Many are worried about annoying their audience, or just don’t have the time to create the emails, but even if all you do is send out the email flier, date, and time, you’re a step ahead. Remember to think about the sales cycle for your event and send out reminders.  

If you set up an email campaign once, you can automate it and reuse it for future events, so you won’t start from scratch each time.

You’ll need:

  • One email to announce the event
  • One to tell your fans that tickets are on sale and where to buy them
  • A final one to remind them that event is in, say, three days.

For the next event, you can copy this campaign in Eventbrite and only change the details to fit your new event.  

A word about Frequency…

There is a legitimate concern about overloading your fans. So, be cautious. Here are two suggestions.   

  1. The best is to let the fan choose by providing subscription options that are clear (i.e.: genre preferences, frequency, or types of events.)  
  2. Start by sending out an email every 2 weeks with a list of events, instead of sending out emails for each event. You can increase frequency and gauge response.

Read our detailed description on how to set up your email campaign on Eventbrite 

4. Let Fans Buy tickets directly on the Facebook event / Instagram Ad

You want to go beyond awareness and into action when selling tickets.

Meaning, that we want to make it as EASY as possible for people to buy right when they’re thinking about it. And remember that your audience may not be on Facebook all the time or may not be paying attention…so if they see an ad only once, everyone except hard-core fans will forget about it.   

While you should share your Eventbrite event page on all your social media in order to boost your ticket sales, a key step is to ensure they can buy tickets without ever leaving the experience they’re enjoying (endless scrolling of political opinions and friends’ baby photos in bed next to their sleeping partner). Or is that just us?

While you want people to know about your event (the awareness phase) the practical goal is to get them to buy tickets. And, if they see an ad only once, everyone except hard-core fans will forget about it.  Here are several ways you can remind them of your event later:  

How To Let Fans Buy Tickets Directly from the Facebook Event Page:

Boost ticket sales on eventbrite by using the facebook integration
  • Add your event to Facebook using Eventbrite’s integration “Add to Facebook”. You’ll get the ticket sales at once (if you activate “tickets on sale”) and it’s an ideal time to start the RSVP campaign. Any time a fan RSVPs it gets is shared with their friends, spreading your reach.   
  • First, connect your Facebook account and allow Facebook permissions to Eventbrite  

Tip: You need a published or scheduled event page with the description and venue address to continue. Your Facebook page also needs to be published.  

  • Go to “Marketing”, then click “Add to Facebook”  
  • As you can see from the image below, a choice to buy a ticket is instantly visible on the event page.  
  • Also, always share your Eventbrite event page on all social media in order to increase ticket sales.

5. Increase ticket sales while keeping fans on your site by using the Eventbrite widget

Like a cat with a laser, every time a person switches tasks, tabs, or websites, it’s a chance for that person to get DISTRACTED.

(“What – who just texted?” “Oh – the laundry buzzed; I’ll just check it really quick.” You know how it goes.)

And then your ticket sales are dead in the time it takes for the page to load.  

The moment they check out the event is the best time for them to buy tickets and doing that on your site is the best way for you to boost ticket sales.

Use Eventbrite’s embedded checkout widget, where people can view, select, and buy tickets without even leaving your beautiful site.  (the finished product will look like this >>

Easily increase ticket sales on your site by using the eventbrite widget

Here’s how to embed the Eventbrite widget on your site.

Pro move #6: Pay a bit more to streamline the full Eventbrite experience

We added this tool in as a bonus because, while it does cost $50/mo., it simplifies most of the steps covered above and gives you one of the most powerful and fully automated sales weapons to increase your ticket sales on Eventbrite.

  • First, you get the data on how and when to promote your event, based on ticket sales timings from your and other event organizers’ past events (anonymously collected).  
  • Next, Eventbrite Boost recommends a schedule for your ads and promotions based on the stages of ticket sales we mentioned at the beginning.   
  • Third – you have full control over your audience. You can create a remarketing and lookalike audience just by linking with your FB/Instagram pages, MailChimp or Spotify. This feature alone is a huge time saver, and automated advertising based on the sales curve not only makes sense but as case studies show, helps event organizers increase ticket sales.  

Here are a few more convincing stats: 

  • Music promoters increase tickets by 28% after using Boost to advertise their events.
  • This company 3x’d their ROI: “For the Love of Carnival” ads delivered huge results: the campaign generated a 3.4x return on ad spend. For every $1 he spent, he made $3. 
  • TAG tapped into Eventbrite’s audience of engaged ticket buyers looking for something fresh. “For an upcoming concert, 22% of current sales, or 1444 tickets and counting, were driven through Eventbrite, bringing new audiences to the venue.

It also has:

  • Email marketing, on steroids (their claim!)  
  • Automated FB/Instagram scheduling of posts alongside publishing and customizing ads   
  • Sales curve based on your earlier events, and statistics they collected anonymously from all other event organizers

Here’s a detailed description of how to use Eventbrite boost to increase ticket sales.

Our Sell-More-Tickets Series is over


Increase revenues, and make your events more accessible to fans with hybrid virtual events

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7 Ways to Make Your Music Program More Profitable

For Independent Venues: How to Market Your Live Music Event (Part 3 of 4)

So whether you’re a music lover or you’ve recognized the revenue impact early, kudos…all of the data says you’re on the right track.  Finding and booking live music, however is a big process that usually involves owners or talent buyers to juggle multiple systems between text, email, Facebook, and Instagram DMs.  Why do all of that work if your live music program is just barely paying off? 

Here are 7 tried and true tips to increase your Venue’s revenue with your live music program. 

1. Move from booking to promotion faster

Speaking of booking, this can’t’ be said enough…STREAMLINE your booking to start promoting the show ASAP.  You want to move staff time into marketing and any extra dollars into ads as soon as possible.  You may be thinking, “Hey, I’m going as fast as I can here.”  Here’s a quick tip to move you into marketing faster. 

How to:

Once you’ve decided that a band is the right fit let them know that you’ll place them on the calendar as soon as you have their marketing assets (logo + downloadable photos) and W9 (we might as well streamline accounting while we’re at it). 
Don’t hesitate to let them know that you DO have another band interested in that date, and you’ll hold it for them only for 48 hours.  Hold to this boundary, and be willing to replace them if you don’t hear back. 

2. Pay musicians based on bar or ticket sales – and get people in the mood

Giving your Musicians incentives to bring a crowd or create a certain ambiance makes it clear up front what the expectations are and means you’re more likely to reach your goals.  There’s nothing worse on both sides than paying the Musician on flat fee, and being upset because they didn’t draw a crowd when there was no clear incentive to do so.   
If you’re worried about securing talent with such a fluctuating pricing structure, you can always offer a guarantee, also known as a “versus deal.” Essentially, If you’re willing to pay Musicians $300 to play, offer them 30% of bar sales or (versus) the $300 guarantee, whichever is higher.  If they get people in a good mood and hitting the bar more often, then they make more money.   

How to: Encourage the band to do these things on stage… 

  • Talk about being “thirsty”  
  • Ask for a drink while on stage (instead of just quietly providing it) 
  • Proffer a toast (“Alright everyone! Let’s raise a glass to __
  • -or- create a special ready-mixed drink named in honor of the band (ie: their hometown: The Boston Bourbon, The Wild Hair). Offer it to the band, and ask them to talk about it on stage. 

3. Enlist Musicians to highlight your upcoming events on stage 

Especially if they’ll be there. Whether or not they will be there, you can offer the band two free ticket to an upcoming show to get them talking about it, and even present the tickets on stage before going on break.  

How to:  

Be prepared with fliers as takeaways for upcoming events and be sure to add a QR code that goes directly to the ticket sales link for easy buying.  
Either announce your early-bird incentive or create a special offer (free parking, free drinks, priority entry, priority bar-service line, meet and greet with the current band) for anyone that buys tickets to the next event before leaving.  
Do this during a band break, and be sure to prepare bar staff or someone dedicated to selling tickets for 15 minutes. 

4. Increase revenue and commitment with no & low-cost incentives 

There’s selling tickets, and then there’s selling tickets strategically.  Don’t just put tickets on sale, think about the psychology of what it feels like to spend your hard earned money on something fun, as a ticket buyer.  Here are a few options to offer more choice and value to your buyers: Create a VIP package,  create a yearly/monthly membership package that will ensure consistent cashflow, create an early-bird discount, or create another package deal that bundles services like parking + tickets

How to: Here are a few low/no cost ideas to create your VIP Package, early -bird discount, or membership:  

  • Have parking? Rope off a section, or the whole thing, for VIP members,  
  • Offer priority bar service line 
  • Offer priority table seating/service 
  • Offer a priority VIP entrance/line (think how good it feels to skate past everyone at the airport with priority-check-in. And you still have to take off your shoes!) 
  • Meet & greet with the band,  pre-post drinks/dinner with the band, the band’s album signed, or even a private song with the band (if you have a separate/intimate space that could be used) 
  • 2 ‘free’ drinks 
  • ‘Free’ or exclusive merchandise 
  • Don’t offer reservations, but often have a wait? Allow VIP members the opportunity to reserve year round. 

5. Get sponsors  

Few other businesses outside of sports arenas and major festivals have the opportunity that you do as a host to live music and good times. Company brands are always looking for ways to get in front of their audience when they’re feeling good. Local or global, don’t be afraid to reach out to the big dogs to get a sponsorship (monthly/annually/for just one show). 

How to: 

Use a PowerPoint or Canva template to create a 3-4 slide sponsor ‘deck.’ 

Page 1: Your name, location, contact details and an appealing photo of your venue.

Page 2: Real photos of your space, and people enjoying it (don’t do crowd shots, get close-ups, when possible – phone pics are totally ok).

Page 3: Typical attendance rates, or early-bird sales.

Page 4: The deal – what they get and what they pay.

  • Sponsor benefit ideas: signage, lanyards for passes with their logo/slogan, table signs, mention on stage by performer, swag and merch giveaways.
  • If you’re worried that your single venue isn’t enough, gather a few other owners and approach a sponsor as a group.  This revenue channel is especially likely to succeed if you enacted the early-bird rate from part 2 of the series, because you’ll have a much better idea of attendance early on and you can more effectively pitch the sponsor with real data of committed attendees. 

6. Monetize reservations 

Don’t take tickets? Take reservations but hold them with a card, with a 24 or even 48 hr cancellation policy.  Charge each card half of what you would expect to make with that seat ($50? $100?) if they no-show or cancel. 

How to: 

This is the most simple change.  Just start telling people the policy and writing down card numbers. Here’s one reservation system that makes that possible automatically.

7. Go opposite of VIP, offer a cheaper ticket tier 

Instead of VIP, offer a lower cost ticket that gives reduced options, and open yourself to a whole new revenue stream that doesn’t take the place of current ticket holders.  Often times participants will thank you for offering a discounted rate that fully meets their needs or provides accessibility. 

How to: Lower value discount ticket ideas 

  • Half day/night owl entry 
  • Digital streaming access 
  • Bulk buy discount (5 tickets gets a 10% discount – must buy together) 
  • Opening or closing night only (for festivals) 

UP NEXT: Part 4 of 4

5 Free Tools to TRIPLE Your Ticket Sales on Eventbrite

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Earn More Revenue in 15 min a Day or Less

For Independent Venues: How to Market Your Live Music Event (Part 2 of 4)

Working in this industry is INTENSE, and you need to get results with minimal time in front of screen. After you have the basics in hand, and are regularly doing them every week. Start improving and diving a bit deeper with these tips, in just 15 minutes a day.  Here is your 1 week plan to increasing foot traffic and revenue. Remember to ensure you have covered the basics from Part One

Day 1: Improve word of mouth promotion 

In 15 Minutes:

Search for influencers on social media in your local area – people that have 10,000+ followers on Instagram or Facebook.  Direct message them through their social media and offer them free tickets + 2 free tickets to give away to friends or through their social media account. Find someone with a huge number of followers and they may be blasé to your offer.  Scale down a bit, and your offer will feel like a welcomed gift. Be sure to ask them to post a selfie at your Venue and tag you. 

How do you find them?  

  • Scan your own followers, maybe there’s an influencer among them.  If not, go to the next level.  Click on a few of your followers, click “following” at the top of their profile, scan the list, and hover on each one for fan counts.
  • Do a local hashtag search to find out who’s putting out the most relevant local content.  Searching like this may also pull up some other recommended hashtags

Day 2: Measure your best marketing efforts with unique tracking links 

In 15 minutes:

  • Set up tracking links with this Eventbrite guide, or use Promotix that has robust tools to actually create an entire street team and track things like each poster that is posted, as well as their ticketing tracking links. 
  • Why?: You can’t manage what you don’t measure.  How do you know if the money you spent on posters is working? Or, if the band is actually bringing in the draw they promised? It’s surprisingly easy to create unique tracking links, so you can put a different one on each marketing channel (one for Facebook, one for posters, one for the band, etc.) 

Day 3: Grow your email list 

  • In 15 minutes:  
  • Drop in the Mailchimp embed code for email sign up on your website (here’s a tutorial
  • -or- use the integration from Eventbrite to Mailchimp to download all ticket-buyer’s email information, to automatically add their info to your list.  You can also manually download these lists each time, which we don’t recommend.  
  • -or- have an in-store promotion for a limited time.  Create a give-away or drink discount for anyone that signs up. 
  • Why?: 1,000 Eventbrite creators responded to a survey saying email was the most effective event marketing channel.  And since Facebook and Instagram can change their algorithms without warning, making it harder and harder for you to connect to your audience without paying, we agree that building your email list is the best option.   
  • Free tool: Mailchimp & Eventbrite 

Day 4: Create an incentive to buy 

In 15 minutes:

  • Decide which event will get the special treatment, and don’t do this more than once every week or two. Choose an event, a date, and an offer. You can do this in 2 ways: first you can offer giveaway items, like free t-shirts, free drinks, time with the band, priority line entry, which may not cost you anything, or just a few pennies.  Or second, you can discount your tickets for an early-bird price which may be easier to coordinate, but cost you more money.  
  • Why?: Early ticket sales account for 40-50% of ticket sales according to Eventbrite studies of nightlife events.  Think of how helpful it will be to have cash in hand to plan your event and pay vendors.  Additionally, those people have more time to invite their friends, communicate with you, and will give you a chance to invite sponsors for your event with confirmed tickets.  Once people have bought a ticket they’re much more likely to attend than someone who waits until the last minute to buy, where any number of things could come up. 

Day 5: Treat your customers like VIPS, literally. 

In 15 minutes:

  • Add a VIP ticket tier or add-on to your next big event and instantly increase your profits.  VIP perks could include, a priority entrance, a meet & greet with the band, even a private song with the band (if you have a separate/intimate space that could be used), pre-post drinks/dinner with the band, the band’s album signed, priority drink order line or dedicated server, a 2 ‘free’ drinks, ‘free’ or exclusive merchandise. 
  • Why & How?: VIP perks can cost absolutely nothing, but have a big bang for the VIPs. It can have a double benefit for the band of creating loyal fans (make sure you approve anything with the band first).  A VIP experience is something that can create life-long memories for the guest, as long as the value you offer matches/exceeds the price and you fully deliver on the promise. 

UP NEXT: Part 3 of 4

How to make your music program more profitable

Become a VIP today!

Connect With Your Audience & Get Them to Show Up

For Independent Venues: How to Market Your Live Music Event (Part 1 of 4)

You’ve put all this work into creating live music to draw an audience and…crickets. You barely break even. Maybe it’s a Tuesday, maybe it’s raining, but the expense of the band is NOT paying off tonight.

First, make sure that you’re covering the basics. You’d be surprised (and if you’re not surprised, at least know that you’re not alone) how many Venues don’t use the basic email list they have to promote shows. Why? Well…they’re busy, and each tool has a learning curve.


PREP 1: The first step is always the hardest > MAKE TIME

3 min

We often overlook or simply don’t make time for the most important part: clearing the time to DO only marketing. When there’s something big, requiring extra thought I suddenly become very important and needed by others. There’s a saying I come back to when I’m feeling intimidated or using every excuse to procrastinate: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

You have my personal guarantee that if you set aside 2 hours per week to do these 4 simple steps, you will start to see movement. However, there are rules to my guarantee… You must:

  1. Actually block the time off of your calendar
  2. Turn off all notifications, and silence your phone.
  3. Close your door to prevent family distractions.

The business can lose you for 2 hours once a week without total collapse. Make this time sacred, make it a practice, and make it known to your team.

Now block off your calendar (that’s right, open it up right now and just. do. it.), set a timer, and let’s go.

PREP 2: Time for a new goal

10 min

As they say, if you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

You only need to do this once for the next several months. It doesn’t have to be complicated, you don’t need spreadsheet; a simple sticky note on your wall will do. Write down how many tickets and/or sales you do in a week currently, increase it by a realistic amount. All done. Do not hide your goal!! Put it as the screensaver on your phone, post it on the wall, share it with colleagues, your spouse, or whoever will hold you accountable if it’s missed.

PREP 3: Identify your audience

15 min.

Answer these questions about your best customers, and write the first thing that comes to mind (don’t over-think it). Resist the temptation to say, “I don’t know, they’re all different!” If you find yourself saying this, don’t think of everyone – instead think of 5 regulars who love your place and didn’t start as friends, then generalize. This will help shape your efforts in the marketing steps.

  • How old are they?
  • What do they like to do in their free time
  • What kind of jobs do they have?
  • Do they use social media? Which platforms?
  • How often do they use social media? How often do they check their email?
  • Do they text a lot on their phones?


**These may seem simple (that’s the point!) but most Venues don’t do ALL of these things all of the time.

Make the switch to regularly doing steps 1-4 and you will see more people coming, greater profits, and more loyalty…which means marketing will get easier and easier.

STEP 1. Create a theme, be specific

20 min to flesh out of 2 themes

Whether you have shows 5 nights a week, or just one, there will be days where the talent’s name will not bring in the audience. Instead, you need to create an EXPERIENCE.
Create a specific theme, and help the audience imagine themselves there. Imagery will help them savor the taste of the drink, feel the relaxation of the music, or engage in the learning of a new skill. Here’s how one drag show mastered this, and during a pandemic, no less. They took their regular drag show, broke it into sections, and taught guests how to make Portuguese Sangria in between, and promoted it on Airbnb Experiences (Not just Sangria, “Portuguese” Sangria, making it more special). They enhanced the experience even further for (online) guests by having everyone do an icebreaker and get them talking to start. For my 5th wedding anniversary, 2 days after the end of lockdown, I invited friends over and we laughed and mixed and danced as we watched online together. People still talk about it today, 2 years later.

Old or young, today’s audience love a ‘how to.’ Remember, that these specific events are perfect to add on prepaid, or higher tiered, tickets. And you can reuse ideas (not weekly! Please!), saying “back by popular demand.”
30 special event ideas

STEP 2. Use canva to create enticing graphics.

45 min

Don’t underestimate the power of good graphics to drive interest, connect with your audience, and get them to actually show up. Remember, unless you have a talent-driven event (and even still…) people are coming to your venue for an experience. The BEST way for them to imagine how that experience will feel is by the graphics you create. To start choose 1 event, and create 2-3 graphics (you can reuse them in the future). Don’t try to create something on your own, just don’t. Use the free canva account, and customize one of their 155,000 templates.

4 Best Canva templates for Bars, Restaurants, Cafes

Canva Template Retro – Go beyond binging Netflix on the couch and promise a better date night with a wine tasting. Change title from Wine fair to “Date Night.” Possible post: “What’s better: bingeing adventure and romance on Netflix on your couch, or treating your other half to a proper date night? You decide.”
Canva Template Travel – The facts of the pandemic and travel limitations means people are aching to be transported. Take them to Italy or South Africa or New Zealand by highlighting the 5 best wines from that region. Don’t have an expert? Contact your wine distributer and ask if they’ll join? Possible post: “You deserve a trip to Italy after these last two years. Come to our Venue instead, and be transported with the 5 best Italian wines of Umbria.”
Canva Template Pets – After 2 years of staying at home, people are closer than ever to their pets (although, it’s debatable if they still want to look at their spouse). Engage customers and their pets if you have outdoor space with a pet show, or doggie dress up day. Possible post: “Your fur baby has gotten you through the hard times. Reward them with a day out, human style. Come to our Venue on Saturday with your Dog dressed to the nines. We’ll have a special treat for the winner.”
Canva Template Whiskey – Go for sulky, moody, whiskey-driven chic by hosting a learning event on the finer points of Scotch vs. Whiskey. Don’t have an expert?? Ask one of your favorite, whiskey-obsessed customers, and treat them to a night of free drinks. Possible post: Is your palette an expert? Every palette can be trained. Come to our Venue on Tuesday and no one will ever know the difference.”

STEP 3. Amp Up your social media posts

45 min

You’re probably already posting regularly. However, if you are not paying for ads (with targeted audiences), and posting more than one time per event, then it’s probably not working, and is draining your time as well.
Don’t try to do this manually every time…set it and forget it by scheduling posts. Create 5-10 posts for the whole month at one time and schedule them. This will save you an enormous amount of time. (more to come on ads)

Here’s a simple 3 step process to do that, or you can watch a 40 sec how to video.

  • Create a FB event so people can share with their friends that they’re going. If you have a ticket price, I highly recommend Eventbrite because not only can you pass the service fee on to the customer, they have a suite of free tools that allow you to easily create a FB event at the click of a button.
  • Boost your event on Facebook. We recommend doing ads or boosting your post once a week. But make sure you target your geographic location and audience demographics. Here’s a quick tutorial

STEP 4. Regularly use & grow your email list

45 min to create and schedule emails

Venues often forget this step in favor of making a quick and dirty post to their social.
However, Facebook algorithms change without warning making it harder and harder for you to access the audience you built unless you pay for advertising. Drive signups to your list from people who love your place by doing in-store promotions. I.e.: Announce 50% off drinks for the next hour for anyone that signs up on your email (or text) list.
Start with an email every 2 weeks with upcoming event highlights or specials, then move to every 1 week after you test out the response. Use mail chimp (free tool which also integrates with Eventbrite). Use their templates to continue the clean and engaging look of your canva graphics.

Make time for these 4 steps and you’ll be hitting your goals in no time.

UP NEXT: Part 2 of 3

Earn More Revenue in 15 min a Day or Less (a one week plan)

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