Wowing Your Guests: A Guide for Bar Staff

  • By: BT Staff
  • Date: January 20, 2024
  • Time to read: 9 min.

In an age where customer service is paramount, going beyond mere satisfaction to truly ‘wow’ your guests is what sets exceptional bars apart from the rest. But what does it mean to “wow” your guests, and how can bar staff achieve this elusive goal? Let’s dive in.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding the ‘Wow’ Factor: Creating unexpected and memorable experiences is key to wowing guests.
  • Innovative Strategies: Table touches, novelty experiences, free offerings, and staff praise effectively elevate the guest experience.
  • The Importance of Human Interaction: Genuine, face-to-face engagement fosters a connection that resonates with guests.
  • Learning from Real-Life Examples: Both positive and negative surprises can serve as valuable lessons in crafting the perfect guest experience.

Understanding the ‘Wow’ Factor

What does it mean to ‘wow’ your guests, and why is it more than just customer service on steroids? The answer lies in creating memorable and unexpected experiences that resonate on a personal level. This section will delve into the psychology and practical application of the ‘wow’ factor, setting the stage for a new approach to guest satisfaction.

The Importance of Unexpected Pleasure

A study by Emory University revealed that the human brain finds unexpected pleasure more rewarding, a principle that can be applied to create lasting memories for guests. By surprising your guests with something they didn’t anticipate, you can create a lasting impression that keeps them returning.

  • The Science Behind Surprise: The brain’s reaction to surprise is linked to the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. When something unexpected happens, it triggers a stronger emotional response, making the experience more memorable.
  • Predictability vs Unpredictability: While predictability provides comfort, the unexpected truly excites and engages people. Whether it’s a surprise dish on the house or a personalized note thanking them for their visit, these unexpected gestures can turn a regular visit into a ‘wow’ experience.
  • Balancing Expectations: While surprises can be delightful, balancing them with meeting and exceeding regular expectations is essential. Guests expect excellent service, quality food, and a pleasant atmosphere. Surprises should enhance these fundamentals, not replace them.

Crafting the ‘Wow’ Experience

Understanding the ‘wow’ factor is just the beginning; implementing it requires creativity, empathy, and a deep understanding of your guests.

  • Know Your Guests: Tailoring surprises to individual preferences shows you pay attention. Whether it’s remembering a regular’s favourite drink or acknowledging a special occasion, personalization makes a difference.
  • Train Your Staff: Empower your staff to create ‘wow’ moments. Provide them with the tools and freedom to surprise and delight guests meaningfully.
  • Measure the Impact: Track how these ‘wow’ experiences affect guest satisfaction and loyalty. Are they coming back more often? Are they telling their friends? Understanding the impact helps in refining and expanding these strategies.

By embracing the ‘wow’ factor, you’re providing service and creating an experience. It’s about connecting with guests deeper, making them feel valued and special. This approach sets the stage for everything else in the bar industry, turning ordinary interactions into extraordinary connections.

Four Ways to Wow Your Guests

Going beyond ordinary customer service requires innovative and thoughtful strategies. Here, we’ll explore four ways to elevate the guest experience to an elite level. These strategies are not just about impressing your guests; they’re about connecting with them on a deeper level and creating unforgettable memories.

Table Touches

Engaging in genuine conversations with guests is more than a nicety; it’s a strategy to make them feel special.

  • Meaningful Conversations: Don’t just ask if everything is okay; engage in meaningful dialogue. Ask about their day, preferences, or favourite sports team. Show genuine interest.
  • Remembering Details: If a guest is a regular, remembering small details about previous conversations can make a big difference. It shows that you value and remember them.
  • Owner and Manager Engagement: When higher-ups take the time to interact with guests, it elevates the experience. It shows that everyone in the establishment cares about the guest experience.

Creating Novelty Experiences

Novelty experiences create unforgettable moments. By offering something unique and unexpected, you can captivate your guests.

  • Themed Nights: Hosting themed nights or special events can add a fun twist. These events can create buzz, whether it’s a ’90s night or a local brewery showcase.
  • Interactive Food and Drink Options: From DIY cocktail stations to build-your-own appetizers, interactive food and drink options can provide a fun and engaging experience.
  • Exclusive Offerings: Limited-time offerings or exclusive menu items can create a sense of urgency and excitement. It makes guests feel like they’re part of something special.

Giving Something for Free

Strategically offering free items can turn new customers into regulars, creating a loyal customer base.

  • First-Time Visitor Gifts: Offering a small free item to first-time visitors can leave a positive impression. It’s a welcoming gesture that can encourage return visits.
  • Loyalty Rewards: Implementing a loyalty program that rewards frequent visitors with free items or discounts can foster long-term relationships with guests.
  • Random Acts of Kindness: Occasionally surprising guests with a free dessert or drink can create a delightful experience. It’s unexpected and can make their day.

Praising Staff for Exceptional Service

Recognizing and praising staff for going above and beyond creates a culture of excellence.

  • Public Recognition: Acknowledging staff in front of guests for exceptional service can boost morale and show guests that you value excellence.
  • Encourage Creativity: Allow staff to come up with their own ways to wow guests. Encourage them to be creative and support their ideas.
  • Rewarding Excellence: Implementing a reward system for staff who consistently go above and beyond can motivate them to continue providing top-notch service.

By embracing these four strategies, you’re not just serving drinks and food but creating an environment where guests feel valued, special, and engaged. It’s about building relationships and turning a night out into an unforgettable experience. Whether through personal connections, unique offerings, generous gestures, or recognizing excellence, these methods can transform your bar into a destination where guests are satisfied and truly wowed.

Real-Life Examples of Wowing Guests

Dave Allred on 4 Ways to REALLY Wow Your Guests

Theory and strategies are essential, but real-life examples provide tangible insights into how the ‘wow’ factor can be implemented. These stories from various establishments illustrate the power of going the extra mile and its lasting impact on guests.

The Corn Dog Surprise – A Delightful Gesture

Sometimes, a simple act of kindness can create a magical moment, as illustrated by this heartwarming story.

  • The Scenario: A family with an eight-year-old daughter dined at a restaurant without a kids’ menu. The little girl wanted a corn dog, which wasn’t on the menu. The server went across the street to a sports bar, ordered a corn dog, and paid for it with her own money.
  • The Impact: The surprise corn dog brought immense joy to the little girl and her parents. It was an unexpected gesture that created a lasting memory.
  • The Lesson: Going above and beyond to fulfil a guest’s desire can create a powerful connection. It’s about showing that you genuinely care about their happiness.

The Big Ass Mule – Creating a Novelty Experience

Novelty experiences can be a fun and engaging way to wow guests, as demonstrated by this unique offering.

  • The Scenario: A piano bar offered a “big ass mule,” a 60-ounce Moscow Mule served in a giant copper cup for people to share.
  • The Impact: The novelty of the drink made it memorable and popular among guests. It became a talking point and a unique feature of the bar.
  • The Lesson: Creating novelty experiences through unique drinks or interactive presentations can add excitement and make your establishment stand out.

The Taffer Marketing Strategy – Building Repeat Customers

This effective marketing strategy shows that offering free items can turn new customers into regulars.

  • The Scenario: Using a three-step process, guests were given free items on their first three visits, encouraging them to return.
  • The Impact: By the third visit, there was a 70% chance that the guest would become a regular. The strategy built loyalty and created a sense of connection.
  • The Lesson: Strategic generosity can be a powerful tool in building repeat customers. It’s about creating incentives that encourage loyalty and connection.

The Anti-Wow – An Unexpected Service Charge

Not all surprises are pleasant; this example illustrates how an unexpected service charge left a sour taste.

  • The Scenario: A group of eight visited a beer and pizza place called Ale Works. Despite not receiving table service, they were charged a 20% service gratuity fee for a party of six or more.
  • The Impact: The unexpected charge and the lack of service created a negative experience. The guests felt swindled, vowing not to return for a while.
  • The Lesson: Unexpected charges without corresponding value can backfire. Transparency and logical policies are key to maintaining trust.

Whether it’s a simple act of kindness, a unique offering, or a well-planned marketing strategy, these examples provide valuable insights into creating unforgettable experiences that resonate with guests. It’s about what you offer and how you make guests feel. That’s the essence of the ‘wow’ factor.

The Power of Human Interaction

In an age where people spend more time with their phones and computers than face-to-face with others, the power of human interaction has become a rare and valuable commodity. In the context of a bar or restaurant, meaningful human interaction can transform a routine outing into a memorable experience. This section explores the importance of human connection and how it can be harnessed to wow guests.

The Decline of Face-to-Face Interaction

Understanding the decline of face-to-face interaction sets the stage for why meaningful human connection is so impactful.

  • The Digital Age: With the rise of smartphones and social media, people are often more connected to their devices than those around them. This has led to a decline in meaningful face-to-face interactions.
  • The Craving for Connection: Despite the digital connections, there’s a growing craving for genuine human interaction. People value and remember those rare moments when someone takes the time to truly engage with them.
  • The Opportunity for Bars and Restaurants: Establishments recognising and responding to this craving for connection have a unique opportunity to stand out. They can create memorable experiences that resonate with guests by fostering genuine human interactions.

Strategies for Fostering Human Connection

Creating a culture of connection requires intentional strategies and a commitment to going beyond surface-level interactions.

  • Personalized Service: From remembering a guest’s favourite drink to acknowledging special occasions, personalized service shows that you see and value the individual.
  • Empowering Staff: Encourage and empower staff to engage with guests meaningfully. Provide training and support to help them connect on a deeper level.
  • Creating a Welcoming Environment: The establishment’s ambience, layout, and overall vibe play a role in fostering connection. Create spaces that encourage conversation and interaction.
  • Community Engagement: Hosting community events or supporting local causes can create a sense of connection and community. It shows that the establishment is part of something bigger and cares about more than just profits.

The Impact of Human Connection on Business

The power of human interaction goes beyond creating memorable experiences; it can have tangible impacts on the business.

  • Building Loyalty: Guests who feel seen and valued are likelier to become loyal customers. They’ll return and recommend the establishment to others.
  • Positive Reviews: Guests with meaningful interactions are likelier to leave positive reviews. These reviews can attract new customers and enhance the establishment’s reputation.
  • Employee Satisfaction: A culture that values human connection impacts guests and staff. Employees who feel empowered to connect with guests will likely be more satisfied and engaged in their work.
  • Increased Revenue: Loyal customers, positive reviews, and engaged employees can all contribute to increased revenue. The investment in human connection pays off in tangible ways.

The power of human interaction is vital to the ‘wow’ factor. It’s about recognizing the inherent value of genuine connection and intentionally fostering it within the establishment. In a world where true connection is becoming rare, those who prioritize and cultivate it stand out. It’s not just about serving food and drinks; it’s about serving people, understanding them, and making them feel special. That’s the essence of human connection, and it’s a powerful tool for wowing guests and building a successful business.

A New Standard in Guest Experience

Wowing guests is not a mere marketing gimmick; it’s an art that requires creativity, genuine care, and a willingness to go the extra mile. By implementing these strategies, you can set a new standard in guest experience and build a loyal customer base.