When I worked the Montréal bar scene, the three highest revenue days of the year were, in order: Super Bowl Sunday; St. Patrick’s Parade day; and New Year’s Eve. But New Year’s Eve was the most profitable, because we charged admission. For the other two events, most bars actually offered freebies (like Irish Coffee or live music for St. Pat’s, or complimentary chili or pizza for the Super Bowl) to entice customers. This cut into the margins, obviously.
It also made St Pat’s and Super Bowl bar-hopping days, when you would visit several establishments in the course of the day. This was for three reasons: they begin in the afternoon (unlike New Year’s), so there’s more time to move around; there are no cover charges; and these events don’t usually involve getting dressed up.
New Year’s is different. You plan to go somewhere (and stay there) for the evening, usually with a crowd of friends. You probably put on some fancy clothes, which might make it difficult to walk around Montréal sidewalks in December. And it’s an evening-only affair, sometimes not starting until ten or later.
So on New Year’s, you can sell tickets to pay for the “freebies” like party hats and Champagne at midnight and snack food, etc. But this creates competition: if you are going to commit to spending the whole evening in one place, and pay money to do so, how do you pick the right place?
Here’s my free advice to bar owners: have a “Leap Second” event. 2008 is going to be a Leap Second year, where an additional second is added to the world’s atomic clocks to make up for the gradual slowing of the earth’s spin. A Leap Second is different than a Leap Year, where an extra day is added every four years to account for the fact that it actually takes about 365.25 days for the earth to orbit the sun.
So you can say your bar is having TWO New Year’s Eves – one at 23:59:60 (note that you don’t usually find a number higher than 59 in the seconds column) and one at 00:00:00. Then again, maybe explaining it all will be too complicated. Perhaps the good ol’ free jello shots would be easier.