The Madness of March

The Madness of March

How Restaurants and Bars Can Take Advantage of NCAA Tournament Frenzy

It’s spring. Your restaurant or bar survived the winter and made it through the football season. Now what sports events can you use to draw in guests?

Major League Baseball’s Opening Day falls on the last weekend of March, NBA playoffs start the 2nd weekend of April. UEFA’s Champions League usually kicks off soccer season that same weekend. While there are a number of sports that are either just starting their season in March playoffs are what get the most fan attention.

This time of year, if you own a restaurant or bar, the only sporting event you should be concerned with is “March Madness”. Every year the NCAA hosts a tournament of the 64 best college basketball teams in the country. And these championship games have a BIG following.

The NCAA tournament takes place over the course of 3 weeks. Starting in mid-March and ending in early April. A total of 67 games are played and a total of 14 cities get the honor of hosting 3-4 games each.

Great! But why is any of this important for restaurants or bars? Because people love watching sports in bars and pubs! And March Madness brings sports fans across the country together; to witness, to watch, and to cheer.

Watching the March Madness games live at the arena is great but not everyone can afford to pay for a ticket or travel during the workweek. Providing a safe and fun venue for sports fans to enjoy food, drinks, and company during this time should be a part of your seasonal business plan. Even if their favorite team is playing or not, camaraderie is at the top of what sports fans crave.

March Madness Is Catching

One of the most viewed events in America year after year, the NCAA’s March Madness tournament is in full swing at the start of Spring. Last year over 97 million people tuned in over the course of the tournament, and this year predicts much of the same.

Which means bars, pubs, or any venue that has a few TVs can benefit from the rush of games and flurry of fans we refer to as March Madness!

20% of viewers plan to watch March Madness at a bar or restaurant.

Seeing as nearly 100 million people tune in to watch March Madness every year, you can expect your sales to increase dramatically so long as you prepare for the madness ahead of time.

How can I attract sports fans to my venue?

The tournament itself last about a month. And with a major game every week there are plenty of opportunities to turn a number of these sports fans into regulars at your venue.

Just serving a combination of good food and drink isn’t enough. Appealing to a sports fan demographic means making them feel like going out to watch the game is better than staying home.

Statistics for this years NCAA March Madness tournament state that 35% of fans choose a venue based on the food and drink specials offered. 25% of fans choose a venue based on the televisions and amount of games offered. 19% of fans choose a venue based on the quality of food and drink served. And only 17% of fans said they choose their favorite local bar to watch the games.

Fans aren’t just flocking to their local bar to watch games, nor to venues with the best food and drinks. Along with providing a sporty environment you also need to provide an incentive, if you want to fully capitalize on sporting events.

28% of viewers will spend $100 more at a venue if their team makes it to the “Sweet 16” round of the championship.

How do I turn fans into regulars?

Create games and contests people can participate in. Tie-in your promotions to one of the tournament games for optimal effect. In 2018 during the March Madness tournament, Domino’s promised a free pizza to anyone who predicted a “16 seed” team knocking a “1 seed” team off their throne.

All participants had to do was pick which team’s Cinderella story they believed in the most. Since teams in the tournament are ranked based on talent and overall record Domino’s made a calculated risk that was unlikely to cost them too much.

The contests and games you offer don’t need to give away free food on a large scale, such as the Domino’s example above. Something small and simple is enough to get customers excited to come back for the next big game.

What if guests are upset by a loss?

You can still turn it into an opportunity to build your customer base. A great way to cheer up a sad fan after a loss is by offering something sweet. A dessert or a coupon of some sort can leave a lasting impression and make the place feel more inviting for next time. Who can’t be cheered up by the taste of an Ice Cream Brownie Sundae when they have an excuse to indulge?

In Conclusion

There are a number of professional sports kicking off the season or heading into the postseason this time of year. To keep sports fans engaged in your bar or restaurant, focus on the most watched and most exciting sporting event at the start of spring. The NCAA March Madness College Basketball Tournament.

Customers will flock to restaurants and bars that have the best combination; of food/drink specials, selection of TV’s to watch the games, and the most engaging sports fan-friendly environment. The tournament lasts 3 weeks so preparing ahead with your promotional strategy could yield a pretty nice bump in sales.

Regardless of the team your guests support, this time of year can be a big win for hospitality venues. If you missed out this year, make sure fans are hootin’ and hollerin’ at your establishment next year!

This article is part of the free resources provided to bar and restaurant management by Rezku. A leader in cutting edge solutions for hospitality businesses since 2012. To learn more about Rezku visit our home page. To find more helpful tips and tricks visit our restaurant management library.

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