You may have been coming up with Grand Opening ideas since you first started to consider opening a nightclub or bar. You have probably imagined that day in the way a new bride imagines her wedding night or an Olympic athlete imagines the lighting of the torch at the opening ceremonies. If you are like me, you probably had ideas for a grand opening while taking a shower or eating your breakfast. A club Grand Opening is an emotionally packed moment that comes only after months (sometimes years) of planning and preparation.
The grand opening event is also one of the key moments that will help decide the success of your nightclub or bar. Putting so much weight on your Grand Opening ideas may sound like an exaggeration, but it is not. Especially when it comes to nightclubs, making a splash during your Grand Opening party is a strong determinant of success. The club Grand Opening is not the only thing, but when it comes to creating the right aura of mystery and exclusiveness, the Grand Opening party can make all the difference. (For a complete view of all that goes into starting a bar or nightclub, see our guide: How To Start Your Own Bar/Nightclub)
So what are some of the best ideas for a Grand Opening that help insure a successful Grand Opening event?
Create Pre-Event Buzz through Advertising
Given the importance of the Grand Opening event to your overall success, it is important that you really go all out in terms of advertising it. This means that you should not only buy ad space to promote your nightclub Grand Opening, but that you should do all you can to build some buzz around it as well. One way to build buzz around your nightclub Grand Opening is to contact the local newspapers and try to get them to send a reporter to review your opening. Sweeten the deal for them by buying advertising space in the newspaper so that they have an added incentive to review your place.Along the same vein, a good way to generate buzz is to do some cross promotion. If you are going to be the kind of place that has bands play, try to get your best most famous band in on the Grand Opening night. If you can get access to some one at the local radio station that plays that band try to get them in to cover the Grand Opening live. Make it a big deal. (The promoter should be able to help you with these kind of contacts; see the next section.)
In addition, you should also start a website with your club name on it that includes teasers about your nightclub Grand Opening party. Think of it like an advertising campaign for opening of a summer blockbuster—you want to make sure everyone wants to come to the opening weekend so your project doesn’t just fade into the woodwork. (For more on creating a website for your bar/nightclub see Nightclub Marketing in the Internet Age)
Hire a Promoter for your Grand Opening Party
Perhaps the best of all the Grand Opening ideas listed here is the advice to get a promoter. A promoter is important because during the days leading up to the Grand Opening you will have your hands full dealing with city ordinances and remodeling and hiring your staff and what will at some points seem like an infinite number of tasks. You simply cannot promote your Grand Opening party in your spare time. Promotion is a time intensive profession. You shouldn’t keep your promoter around indefinitely—although you may occasionally rehire him or her for other big occasions. (Once things are up and going you can handle the promotion from within your organization for a lot less.)
You also want to be sure that the promoter is carrying out your vision of your bar or nightclub. The promoter will likely have a lot of Grand Opening ideas of their own, but don’t let the promoter impose their vision on yours. Take some time finding a good promoter who has been around the block a few times so that you can both be clear about what you want your nightclub Grand Opening to be like. (For more on hiring a promoter and promotions see our article: The Ins-and-Outs of Club Promotion)
Invite the Beautiful People
For a club opening, it is indispensable to have some “beautiful people” there, whether they are stars, athletes or just models. You must give people who are not sure whether to try your place out a reason to come. In some cases, these local celebrities will be reluctant to come unless you sweeten the pot by paying them an appearance fee. If you can afford it and the celebrity is popular enough to be a draw for the kind of patron you are targeting, this is money well spent.
In addition to the beautiful people, invite some of the local powerbrokers in your neighborhood or town. Invite the mayor and the local fire chief and people like that—the kind of people who you want on your side should you have a problem with the city. Even if they don’t come, your bar or club will be better positioned for having made those connections.
Make Sure to Train your Event Staff
Although fairly obvious, you would be surprised how often bar and club owners don’t run their staffs through a full fledged training session before the Grand Opening party. Ideally this training session should happen the week before the Grand Opening and should involve a sort of dress rehearsal in the actual establishment so that you can trouble shoot any problems you might have in terms of movement and equipment. (You should make sure the equipment is functional at this point.)
You might want to have this session earlier, but it is rarely the case that you can get your staff together far enough in advance for this level of planning.
Put your Money Where your Party Is
By this point, you are probably starting to wonder about the cost of all these Grand Opening ideas. How much money should you spend on your Grand Opening party? You should think of it in the same way that people think of their wedding days. This is a big important event. Therefore, you should plan on spending the equivalent of a full year’s advertising budget on the opening night if you have a club or an upscale trendy bar. (Half that for neighborhood bars and the equivalent.) So if you had allotted an advertising budget of $10,000 for the first year, that is how much you should spend promoting your Grand Opening event.
Is there any difference between a Bar Grand Opening and a Nightclub Grand Opening?
As you may have noticed in the Grand Opening ideas I have listed here, Grand Opening’s are of vital importance to nightclubs. You don’t want your nightclub to fly under the radar—most don’t slowly build. In fact, about half of all nightclubs are most popular in their first year, when they are new and highly exclusive and then their popularity falls off.
That said, it is still important to have a strong bar Grand Opening as well. Especially if you have a trendy bar, a good Grand Opening event will also get you going on the right foot. It is generally speaking a bad idea to just open your doors or have a “soft” opening before the Grand Opening.
Finally, although you may have a hard time remembering this as you are preparing for it, keep in mind that the Grand Opening party should be a big, blowout of party. Make sure everyone is having fun—even you!
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