Don't just build a quiz night, build a loyal following.
Why just fill a quiet night with a quiz when you can use the quiz to tie patrons to your venue no matter what the competition does.
If you want to tie your patrons to your venue you need to create a "sense of community". We all know what a quiz night is but what is it meant by a "sense of community". A community by definition is a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share governance and often have cultural and historical heritage.
In short, building a "sense of community" in your venue is about building emotional links between your patrons. It's not about a link between your patrons and your staff. It's not about emotional connections between your patrons and your venue's events but it is precisely about links between patrons and other patrons.
To clarify this, imagine you are a patron of a local bar. You have a lot of friends who go to that bar. You basically know everyone. Now another bar starts just down the road. It has nicer décor, it has a better music system, the bar staff are better looking. The drinks are cheaper and they stay open later. It has a host of other things that make it an attractive option. But for whatever reason all your friends at your local don't see all these attractive options and decide to stay put. Do you now go to the new bar or stay with your friends. I bet if you ask 1000 people this question then 999 would answer that they would stay put.
A sense of community, or a bond between patrons, is a very powerful tie for patrons to a venue. But keep in mind the converse. If you liked your local and everyone else left and started frequenting another venue then if the bond is strong you will leave too.
So we now know it is advantageous to instill this sense of community but how do you do this in general and with a quiz in particular?
There are many types of pub quiz or trivia nights. These range from the traditional pub quiz that has a host or quiz master, to the totally electronic quiz where questions are presented on a TV screen and answers given via electronic hand controls.
But here is the critical difference.
With a traditional pub quiz, the quiz runs at a set time so the venue typically fills with the contestants arriving at a set time. The patrons have to be quiet together to hear the questions. The patrons are listening together when the answers are given. They laugh together when the host tells a joke or makes a gaffe. They may jibe each other or make comments. They are in the quiz together. This may all sound inconsequential but all these things add to the atmosphere of the night, to the buzz, to the feeling of the night.
Let me compare this to the most sterile of all the bar quiz options, the electronic quiz. The patrons can start at any time. They can answer any time. They don't have to listen to answers as these are delivered electronically. They don't have to listen to the questions as they are delivered on a TV and they don't have to stop talking. There is no need for teams to co-operate with each other so they can hear the questions and answers. There is no link between the individual teams. They are all individually doing the same quiz. There tends to be little or no comraderie, repartee, buzz or atmosphere associated with the quiz.
Now don't get me wrong I'm not anti-technology, quite the contrary. But just because it can be done doesn't necessarily mean it should be. I'll give you an example. I was involved with a venue that had 20 plus teams coming to its weekly trivia quiz. We had hand-out picture and puzzle rounds, occasionally audio rounds and plenty of read out question and answer rounds. The venue put in a new audio visual system with large plasma TVs. It was decided the TVs should be used because they were there. We made a DVD with the questions. The questions could be advanced using the DVD remote.
It was thought that it would make it easier for the host. In fact it took the focus from the host and made it harder. Because the patrons didn't have to listen to the questions, they could just read them off the TV screens, people didn't bother to stop talking when the host read the questions or said anything else for that matter. He found it more difficult to get the attention of the crowd.
It was hit home when even the regulars mentioned the changed and lesser atmosphere of the night. It took a couple months to give in to the fact the new cool TVs were having a negative affect, all the while the quiz night was slowly going backwards. Finally it was decided to use the TVs as a scoreboard for the night instead of displaying the questions. Software was installed on a laptop and put through the new audio visual system to display the scores progressively through the night. Then the quiz was restored to its previous format and it quickly bounced back to its old feel.
At the time it wasn't quite so clear what the problem was. But in retrospect displaying the questions on the TV screens broke the need for co-operation between the teams and the togetherness of the night. It lessened the sense of community.
One of the key factors to a sense of community is Membership. And membership is strengthened by five self supporting attributes. Boundaries, Emotional safety, Sense of Belonging, Personal Investment and Common Symbols.
Boundaries are both of a physical and general nature and give clear signs to what's acceptable by the patrons and the staff, reducing uncertainty for your patrons in what they can do and how they can behave.
This leads to greater Emotional Saftey because your patrons know what they can do without fear of ridicule or embarrassment.
This leads to a greater Sense of Belonging, so they are more likely to give of their time (Personal Investment) and be part of the team (Common Symbol).
The traditional pub quiz has a lot of inherent boundaries or rules which immediately encourages the development of the other attributes. There is a need for co-operation (Personal Investment) between teams or else no one can hear the questions and answers. The fact that the patrons are all together at an organized event adds to Sense of Belonging.
The cyclic building of these attributes makes the individual participants Members of the quiz night. It builds the overall 'sense of community'.
Any action or attribute within the quiz format, and the venue as a whole, that adds to this idea of Membership increases the bond your patrons will have to your bar.
If you look at your bar right now I'm sure you will already see these attributes in place to some degree. Fostering and improving them doesn't necessarily require a large financial cost but the rewards will be significant.