“Pub quizzes are back in fashion,” says Tony Eyre, managing director of touch-screen entertainment supplier Mediatheme. “A quiz is a great way to increase footfall, maximise dwell time and increase spend.
“We are seeing more and more A-boards advertising quiz nights outside pubs in high-street, suburban and country locations.”
But Eyre warns that, while running a quiz night is inexpensive, there’s more to getting the formula right than meets the eye.
“You won’t make money simply by putting on a quiz,” says Eyre.
“The key to success is to please as many people as possible. Firstly, it needs to work for your regulars, who will have a go and then spread the word. If you attract big numbers for football nights, for example, then try putting on a sports quiz as a first step, gradually widening it out to draw in more people with different interests.”
According to Carl Ranson, sales manager at pub entertainment company Lounge Lizzard, setting the right questions is crucial.
“Pub quizzes can be tricky to run, especially if you’re unsure of the type of people attending,” says Ranson. “Offering a multitude of quiz styles will help.”
He adds: “There’s no need to stick rigidly to the usual quiz format, with a quiz master reading out all the questions. The entertainment technology now available offers picture, video and audio rounds, as well as standard text questions.
“This also reduces the opportunities to cheat by using mobile phones to look up answers.”
“A quiz is a great way to increase footfall, maximise dwell time and increase spending.”
How to be quiz-night kings
Below, the Publican’s Morning Advertiser looks at the equipment and software that can help pubs to set up a compelling quiz night.
We also find out the secrets of one of Brighton’s pub-quiz successes, and pick out some top tips on marketing a quiz.
Finally, we take a look at other entertainment options that can help pubs boost footfall and profits.
Let me entertain you
A quiz is not the only form of entertainment that can boost a pub’s coffers. Tony Eyre, managing director of Mediatheme, predicts that bingo will be the big thing in pubs this year, after an explosion in popularity of the company’s bingo game in holiday resorts.
“Bingo is back in fashion,” he says. “Pub customers coming back from their holidays are asking licensees to replicate the fun in their premises.”
There is also growing demand for an affordable form of a more traditional pub favourite, according to karaoke venue operator Lucky Voice.
After discovering that pubs were using its karaoke kit and online streaming service designed for home use, the firm has developed Lucky Voice Pro for the pub trade.
“We saw a gap in the market for affordable, flexible karaoke for pubs that prefer not to commit to monthly fees or install kit,” says Lucky Voice managing director Nick Thistleton. “Now, anyone with a laptop and internet connection can host a karaoke night via our web interface, for a minimal fee.”
The key to a successful pub karaoke night is to provide the crowd with “top-notch” tracks from a reliable source, Thistleton says.
He adds: “Good karaoke also needs a charismatic host. Whether that’s a member of staff or an enthusiastic customer, they should be able to fill in gaps with their own performances.
“The best nights are all-inclusive, open to all types of voice — good and bad.”
Select the right equipment and software
You don’t need stacks of equipment to set up a pub quiz, but there are a few practicalities to consider, according to Tony Eyre, managing director of Mediatheme.
Firstly, decide how to deliver the questions, and make sure that everybody can hear the quiz master.
“If people can’t hear the questions, they’ll get frustrated and disgruntled,” says Eyre. “Venues over 600sq ft should invest in a quality PA and speaker system.”
He also suggests that quizzes can be improved by displaying questions on TV screens, using touchscreen systems such as Mediatheme’s The Entertainer.
He says: “With our system, you can read out the questions over a PA, or choose to display them on TV screens. This makes the night more interactive, and provides the option to include more entertaining video and music rounds.”
Another major pub entertainment supplier, Lounge Lizzard, has developed a new product that allows a pub to create a tailor-made quiz for its customers. Venues can select levels of difficulty and a range of categories, and add their own questions to make the quiz even more bespoke.
“Quiz nights are most effective when the questions are tailored to the audience,” says Carl Ranson, sales manager at Lounge Lizzard.
“The wrong questions will discourage repeat business, so it’s vital to know your customers when running a quiz.”
Creating an atmosphere
Case study: the Ancient Mariner, Brighton, East Sussex
The Ancient Mariner has been running a successful pub quiz for as long as manager and licensee Lillie Murdoch can remember.
“The quiz was running when I took over six years ago. We kept it up because it was such a popular night,” she says.
“It gives customers something different and many teams come along every week. We also get first-timers, many of whom keep coming back.”
The quiz attracts about 50 people each Monday, bringing in footfall on a traditionally quiet night. It consists of four rounds, with a break between each to allow customers to order food and drink. Entry costs £1 per person plus £1 per team, split between prizes for the winning teams.
For added interest, there is also a ‘Boozy Bonus’ question, which usually involves guessing a year. The team with the closest answer wins a bottle of wine, or the chance to gamble for a rollover cash or wine prize. These have been known to reach more than £100, or 18 bottles of wine.
Murdoch gives her top tips on creating a great atmosphere:
■ “Employ a professional ‘setter’.
It would take hours each week to compile the quiz ourselves, so we use local provider Mark Stack. He knows how to design rounds and questions to create a buzz. He knows I hate having to pronounce difficult words, so deliberately puts some in to give everyone a laugh.”
■ “Make it personal. Atmosphere is generated by the quiz master. Three of us are involved in the quiz night. We all know our quizzers well, and make sure there’s plenty of banter.”
■ “Maintain interest. We include a marathon picture round that’s handed out at the start. Quizzers can start on it straight away, working on their answers until it is handed in towards the end.”
Top tips for promoting a quiz night
Lillie Murdoch, manager and licensee at the Ancient Mariner, in Brighton, East Sussex
■ “We put posters up around the pub, including next to the bar, to ensure customers know that Monday is quiz night.”
■ “We also have a board in a prominent position opposite the bar, updating customers on the prizes available. Our accumulator prizes have reached as much as 18 bottles of wine and more than £100, which really generates interest.”
■ “We promote the quiz night on our website and Facebook page, and also advertise in a local what’s-on guide.”
Tony Eyre, managing director of Mediatheme
■ Place an A-board outside your venue to advertise your quiz night and catch the interest of new customers.
■ Put up posters in prominent places. Posters can easily become wallpaper, so display them behind the bar — it’s the one place that customers are guaranteed to look.
■ Use TV screens to advertise your quiz night. It takes less than a minute to create a professional-looking animated advert with our The Entertainer system.