Should you apply an entry fee or not?
When deciding whether you should add a entry fee or have no charge, there are many considerations you should take into account. Given the choice I will always go one way over the other.
But before I get to which way that is, let me cover the pros and cons of a cover charge.
You get more resources to cover the cost of the quiz. You can use the entrance money to offset the costs of running the quiz night. This can be the expense of collateral material, the cost of a host or compere or for prizing.
In most circumstances, cash taken at the door is all refunded as prizing. The bigger the cash prize the more likely you are to attract quiz afficiendos away from other venues.
Cash prizing maybe put back over the bar at the end of the night.
When you charge for the night, the quiz is automatically ratcheted up in its level of seriousness, out of the fun category to a more competitive level. The tone of the quiz can be more serious, less fun and less spontaneous.
Patrons who are attracted to the night for the prize money tend to be poor contributors over the bar. And if they have come to the venue because of prizing then they will just as easily leave your venue for the chance of better prizing. More often this type of patron will move from quiz to quiz. In their movements from venue to venue they get exposed to a wide range of trivia. They get better at answering the questions and often win the money. And rather than put the money over the bar, once they receive their cash prizing they are out the door. These patrons are takers, contributing little.
"Patrons chasing the cash tend to be poor contributors"
As patrons have paid to get into the quiz the patrons then feel they have a right to complain or challenge questions and answers. They feel they own the quiz night and not the venue. When the night is free then the venue owns the night, owns the questions and owns the answers.
I know venues that run a trivia night and do charge an entrance fee and have a very successful night. However the nights do tend to be very structured and alot more serious. And as the level of quiz contestant is a more hard-core quiz person these quiz nights are less inviting to the casual patron.
My preference is for the free quiz night. You are less likely to attract this hard-core element and can attract more patrons who are just interested in a bit of fun. In fact if you have a casual patron, someone who isn't specifically there for the quiz, who sees the level is not out of their reach they are more likely to join the quiz.
Patrons who are less concerned with winning tend to be less cautious about drinking and having a good time. And lets face it the reason you are even considering a quiz night is to increase your turnover. You don't just want bums on seats. You want bums on seats spending money.
>p>And above all else, if you can create a fun night, you then create a sense of community. And that sense of community has more pulling power than cash prizing, good questions or a clever host. Additionally patrons who experience a sense of community become more loyal to your venue and are more likely to frequent your venue on other days of the week.
I think you know by now which way I always lean when it comes to an entry fee. You'll attract a better crowd without it. It may take a little longer to build the night the long term rewards are far greater.
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