A Savvy Bar Owner’s Guide


Ever come across a bar crawl? If not, here’s what’s it about: A bar crawl, or pub crawl, is a fun event where folks hop from one bar to the next throughout the evening, enjoying new places and meeting new people. While yes, the term ‘crawl’ might suggest some folks might be a bit tipsy by the end of it, remember, responsible drinking is the key!

Now you might be wondering, “Cool, but why should I, as a bar owner, care about it?” But actually, learning how to plan a bar crawl can do wonders for your business. It not only brings a flood of new patrons to your bar but also creates an atmosphere sure to attract more customers. It’s the perfect mix of entertainment and business growth, which is the essence of the bar crawl model.

However, getting your bar included in a crawl isn’t a given. It requires a little planning and some strategic moves. But don’t sweat it. This article has got your back. We’ll walk you through the concept of bar crawls, the business model behind them, and, most importantly, how to ensure your bar is part of the next big crawl. So, ready to take your bar to the next level?

What is a Bar Crawl?

A bar crawl, sometimes known as a pub crawl, is a unique social event that blends the fun of a group outing with the excitement of discovering new places. It revolves around a group of people, often friends or colleagues, moving together from one bar to the next throughout the evening.

The term ‘crawl’ is used humorously to suggest that the participants might be a tad unsteady by the end of the night. However, it’s essential to remember that responsible drinking is a crucial part of the event.

A successful pub crawl is often organized with a predetermined route, listing a selection of bars to visit within a specific timeframe.

Some bar crawls follow a theme, like a holiday celebration, scavenger hunt, or costume party, while others might focus on a certain type of drink or a specific neighborhood. The concept is quite simple, yet the diversity and camaraderie of the experience make it truly special.

It’s also worth noting that a bar crawl isn’t limited to just the regular patrons. Tourists and newcomers often join pub crawls to taste the local nightlife and meet new people as they go bar hopping.

They’re a fantastic way to explore a city’s bar scene, sample a variety of drinks, and enjoy a night filled with fun and laughter. Patrons may go from wondering, “what is a happy hour like at this bar?” to becoming lifelong repeat customers.

In a nutshell, a bar crawl is much more than a night out drinking. It’s a social experience that combines exploration, camaraderie, and enjoyment. And for bar owners, it can be an excellent opportunity to showcase their establishments to a broader audience and boost their business.

Check out this video to learn more about the bar crawl experience, especially from the patron’s angle:

The Bar Crawl Business Model

A bar crawl, while entertaining for participants, can indeed translate into a profitable venture for bars. The main allure for bar owners lies in the potential for increased patronage and revenue and an elevated presence within the community.

One of the core facets of the bar crawl business model is increased footfall. Bar crawls introduce a rush of new customers to your establishment, many of whom might not have visited otherwise.

This increased patronage leads to a boost in sales for the evening, but it can also result in longer-term benefits. New customers may enjoy their experience and become regulars, expanding your customer base and enhancing your revenue stream.

Beyond the immediate financial gains, bar crawls also help to elevate your bar’s profile within the community. Being part of a bar crawl can increase your establishment’s visibility, making it a recognized and cherished part of the local nightlife.

This can bolster your reputation, making your bar the go-to spot for locals and tourists alike.

Organizing a bar crawl, or getting your bar included in one, requires strategic planning. Partnering with other local businesses, advertising the event, and creating a fun and welcoming atmosphere are all key to a successful bar crawl.

It might be beneficial to consider event or bar themes or special promotions to attract and engage participants.

It’s also crucial to ensure your staff is prepared for the event, both in terms of providing excellent service and ensuring the safety and well-being of all participants.

Training your staff on responsible serving practices, crowd management, and emergency procedures can help create a safer, more enjoyable event for everyone involved.

How to Organize a Bar Crawl

Step No. Action Step Explanation
1 Define Your Goals Set clear objectives for your bar crawl, such as attracting new customers, increasing sales, or enhancing your bar’s community profile. This step guides your planning and provides a success benchmark.
2 Choose a Theme Select an engaging theme to set your bar crawl apart and draw in a larger crowd. Ensure the theme aligns with your brand and appeals to your target audience.
3 Plan the Route Choose a route that ensures easy navigation for participants. Consider each bar’s size, unique offerings, and peak hours when deciding the order.
4 Collaborate with Other Bars Partner with local bar owners or managers. Emphasize the mutual benefits of increased patronage and revenue. Promote a sense of community among the venues.
5 Set the Schedule Draft a structured schedule that aligns with the operating hours of the involved bars. Allot enough time for participants to enjoy each bar.
6 Create Special Promotions Offer unique promotions or discounts to make your bar crawl more appealing. Consider a reward system for participants who visit every bar on the crawl.
7 Advertise the Event Use social media, flyers, and local event websites to publicize your crawl. Engage your regular customers to spread the word about the event.
8 Prepare Your Staff Ensure your staff is well-prepared and briefed about the event. Train them to handle increased customers and any potential issues that might arise.
9 Ensure Safety Measures Prioritize participant safety. Promote responsible drinking and arrange safe transportation options to ensure everyone gets home safely.
10 Evaluate the Event After the event, gather feedback and evaluate the crawl’s success. Use these insights to improve future events and ensure their success.

If you’re interested in using bar crawls to bring more customers through the doors of your establishment, the following event planning tips may help.

1. Define your Goals

how to plan a bar crawl

The first step to any successful event planning is setting clear objectives. Are you aiming to attract new customers, increase sales for a particular night, or raise the profile of your bar in the local community?

Having a well-defined goal will not only guide your decisions throughout the planning process but also provide a benchmark against which you can measure the success of your bar crawl.

Discuss these goals with your team so everyone is aligned and motivated towards the same target.

2. Choose a Theme

how to plan a bar crawl

Selecting a captivating theme can set your bar crawl apart and draw in a larger crowd. Themes range from holiday celebrations like St. Patrick’s Day for Irish pubs to unique concepts like an ’80s retro night or a craft beer-tasting tour.

Ensure the theme aligns with your brand and resonates with your target audience. Pub crawling themes should be fun and engaging and offer participants a unique experience they wouldn’t typically encounter on a night out.

3. Plan the Route and Transportation

plan a bar crawl

When planning a pub crawl, there are various factors to consider, primarily concerning the selection of the route and transportation logistics.

First, consider the geographic layout of the bars involved in the pub crawl. Choose a sequence of venues that minimizes travel distance and time, creating a natural flow from one location to the next.

While arranging this, bear in mind the unique atmosphere each bar brings to the experience; variety can enhance the overall fun and excitement.

Regarding transportation, safety is paramount. Encourage participants to leave their cars at home, consider providing shuttle buses, and encourage patrons to use rideshare services.

Collaborating with local taxi companies can also effectively ensure safe travels for participants after a pub crawl.

4. Develop a Timetable

how to plan a bar crawl

When planning a pub crawl, it’s crucial to nail down a timetable. Think of it as your party roadmap, showing when to hit each bar and how long to spend there.

It’s all about balance – you want to give people enough time to kick back and enjoy each bar, but you must keep things moving for a successful pub crawl.

And don’t forget to factor in travel time between bars. As a bar owner, it’s a smart move to schedule the pub crawl rush during your slower times – that way; you’re making the most of the night without overwhelming your staff.

5. Choose a Theme (if applicable)

how to plan a bar crawl

If applicable, a theme can add a lot to your pub crawl. A theme can unite the crowd, encourage costume-wearing, and generally bring a special touch to the event.

It could be as simple as a color scheme or as elaborate as a retro 80s vibe. When choosing your theme, consider your audience and the kind of atmosphere you want for your pub crawl.

If you’re targeting a younger crowd, something trendy or pop-culture related could be a hit. A classic or sophisticated theme might be the way to go for a more mature group. The theme isn’t just for the participants; it’s also a great way to guide decorations, drink specials, and music at each bar.

6. Arrange Food and Drink Specials

how to plan a bar crawl

As a bar owner hosting a pub crawl, arranging food and drink specials can be a major crowd-pleaser. These specials attract participants and give them a taste of what your bar offers uniquely.

When it comes to drinks, consider creating a signature cocktail that aligns with your pub crawl’s theme, or offer discounts on popular brews.

Food is equally essential; pub crawl participants will appreciate tasty, easy-to-eat bites that can help balance out their alcohol intake.

Think sliders, nachos, or any of your bar’s star finger foods. Remember to promote these specials in advance so those joining the pub crawl know the enticing deals to look forward to at your bar.

7. Plan Safety Measures

Safety should be at the top of your planning list when you’re hosting a pub crawl. For starters, reinforce the message of responsible drinking.

That can mean providing water stations at each bar to help folks stay hydrated or partnering with local taxi companies or rideshare apps to ensure nobody’s tempted to drink and drive.

You might even consider hiring security staff for the night to monitor things. Another thing to think about is overcrowding – it’s essential to keep tabs on the number of participants at each bar to ensure a safe and comfortable environment.

8. Market and Promote the Event

how to plan a bar crawl

Getting the word out about your pub crawl is key to a successful event. It’s best to tailor your promotional methods to reach them where they’re most likely to see it.

If you’ve got a younger crowd, that might mean using social media platforms like Instagram or TikTok. For an older group, consider local newspapers or community newsletters.

You could also use your own bar as a promotion platform – put up signage, have your staff spread the word, and maybe even offer pre-sale tickets for the pub crawl at a discount.

9. Prepare a contingency Plan

plan a bar crawl

Planning a pub crawl is a blast, but let’s face it, things can go wrong. That’s why it’s important to have contingency measures ready to roll. Imagine if one of your bar stops had to close unexpectedly or if a sudden change in weather impacts the crawl.

Having alternate bars in mind or arranging temporary shelters can save the day.

In case of any emergencies, ensure that first aid is available and easily accessible. Clear communication is key in handling unexpected hiccups. Ensure that your participants, staff, and partnering bars are all in the loop if changes need to be made.

10. Post-event Follow-up

After hosting a pub crawl, some having a follow-up plan can turn a one-night event into a long-term win. Start by sending out a thank you note to all the participants, perhaps through email or social media, to show your appreciation for their support.

This personal touch can go a long way in building loyalty. You could also share photos from the pub crawl (with attendees’ permission, of course) to give participants a chance to relive the fun.

Now’s also a great time to ask for feedback. A quick online survey can provide insights into what worked, what didn’t, and what could make your next pub crawl even better.

Finally, don’t miss this chance to promote your bar’s regular offerings and upcoming events or hint at the next pub crawl. The goal is to keep the conversation going and keep your pub crawl participants engaged and eager to come back to your bar.

How to Get Your Bar Included in a Bar Crawl Itinerary

If you’re looking to get your bar included in a pub crawl itinerary, you’ve got to make sure it stands out as a must-visit spot.

  • Create a unique atmosphere: Make your bar an unmissable stop by offering something distinctive, like a specific theme, live music, or engaging events like trivia nights.
  • Offer special deals: Encourage pub crawl attendees to visit by offering special deals or creating a signature drink exclusive to the pub crawl crowd.
  • Consider your location: If your bar is close to other popular venues, it’s naturally more convenient for inclusion. But there are options if your bar isn’t located in a super convenient area.
  • Partner with transportation services: If you’re not within walking distance of other bars, consider partnering with local transportation services to help attendees reach your bar easily.
  • Network with pub crawl organizers: Reach out to the people planning pub crawls and let them know why your bar would add value to their event.

Successful Pub Crawl Themes: Enhancing the Experience

Themes play a pivotal role in transforming a typical pub crawl into an unforgettable experience. Selecting a distinctive and engaging theme creates an element of camaraderie, brings an extra dash of excitement, and can even become a talking point, drawing more people to participate.

Picture this: a pub crawl with a 1980s retro spin. Attendees don vibrant vintage outfits, bars pump out classic 80s hits, and themed cocktails named after iconic 80s movies make everyone feel like they’ve stepped into a time machine.

Or, consider a superhero-themed pub crawl where attendees arrive dressed as their favorite characters, with bars offering creative drink specials inspired by popular comic book heroes and villains.

These immersive experiences create more than just a night of fun. They generate lasting memories, stories to share, and a sense of anticipation for future events.

So, when you’re planning your next pub crawl, remember that your choice of theme is not just a detail but a powerful tool that can enhance the enjoyment and success of your event.

1. Decades-themed (70s, 80s, 90s) Pub Crawl

how to plan a bar crawl

Embark on a nostalgic journey as you step into the vibrant eras of the 70s, 80s, and 90s. With a decades-themed pub crawl, participants can groove to classic tunes, don flashy era-specific attire, and immerse themselves in the iconic moments that defined each decade, all while enjoying thematic drinks and bar decor.

2. Superheroes and Villains Pub Crawl

plan a bar crawl

Channel your superpowers and dive into a world of capes, masks, and legendary tales. The superheroes and villains pub crawl offers attendees a chance to represent their favorite comic book characters, engage in themed trivia battles, and enjoy specially crafted drinks that capture the essence of the characters they adore.

3. Movie Characters Pub Crawl

plan a bar crawl

Turn your regular bar-hopping night into a cinematic experience with the movie characters pub crawl. Participants get a golden opportunity to step into the shoes of iconic film characters, making every bar visit feel like stepping onto a movie set, all while enjoying cocktails inspired by silver screen classics.

4. Around the World Pub Crawl

how to plan a bar crawl

Why stick to one locale when you can travel the world in a single night? The Around the World pub crawl offers participants a whirlwind tour, with each bar representing a different country. From lively Latin beats to serene Asian melodies, the diverse music, tantalizing international cuisine, and signature drinks make for a global adventure.

5. Color-themed Pub Crawl

how to plan a bar crawl

Dive into a visual spectacle with the color-themed pub crawl. Whether it’s a sea of red, a splash of blue, or a burst of neon, participants embrace the chosen color in their attire, while bars serve delicious, color-matching cocktails that make for vibrant photo ops and unforgettable memories.

6. Hawaiian Luau Pub Crawl

how to plan a bar crawl

Whisk participants away to a paradise of sun, sand, and surf with the Hawaiian Luau pub crawl. The ambiance brims with floral leis, straw skirts, and vibrant tropical concoctions. It’s more than just a pub crawl; it’s a brief vacation filled with the laid-back ‘Aloha’ spirit and island vibes.

7. Wild West Pub Crawl

how to plan a bar crawl

Saddle up for a trip back to the rugged Wild West era. This pub crawl takes participants on a journey where whiskey flows freely in rustic saloons, cowboy boots stomp to country tunes, and bandanas and cowboy hats are the fashion statements of the night.

8. Scavenger Hunt Pub Crawl

how to plan a bar crawl

Add an exhilarating twist to your night out with the Scavenger Hunt pub crawl. Participants indulge in both mental and alcohol spirits as they solve clues and challenges, moving from one bar to the next. It’s a perfect blend of adventure, competition, and libation.

9. Holiday-themed Pub Crawl (Halloween, Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day)

how to plan a bar crawl

Embrace the spirit of the season with a holiday-themed pub crawl. Whether you’re hunting for ghouls and witches during Halloween, spreading yuletide joy at Christmas, or chasing leprechauns on St. Patrick’s Day, each themed night promises unique drinks, decor, and a hearty celebration of the season.

10. Nautical or Pirate-themed Pub Crawl

how to plan a bar crawl

All aboard for a maritime adventure with a nautical or pirate-themed pub crawl. Dive into the mysteries of the seven seas, from sailor chants to pirate shanties. Decked out in sailor caps or pirate eye patches, participants can enjoy a wave of marine-themed drinks and bar games.

11. An Irish Pubs Crawl

how to plan a bar crawl

Embark on a traditional journey through the heart of Ireland with an Irish Pubs Crawl. As participants visit each pub, they’ll be greeted by the soulful tunes of Irish folk music, a frothy pint of Guinness, and the warm, convivial atmosphere that’s synonymous with Celtic hospitality.

FAQs: How to Plan a Bar Crawl

What is the typical duration of a pub crawl?

The typical duration of a pub crawl can vary depending on the number of bars included and the event’s overall schedule. However, most pub crawls tend to last around 4 to 5 hours.

This timeframe allows participants to spend approximately 30 to 60 minutes at each bar, depending on the size of the crawl.

Keep in mind, though, this can vary, and some pub crawls may last longer, mainly if they are part of a larger event or festival. Always check the specific details of the pub crawl you are participating in or organizing to ensure you have the correct information.

How can I ensure the safety of participants during bar crawls?

Ensuring participant safety during a pub crawl is paramount. Encourage responsible drinking by offering water at each stop and organizing food specials. Bartenders should also be trained in how to spot fake ID features and when to stop serving patrons. Arrange for group transportation or partner with a local rideshare company to discourage drinking and driving.

It’s also important to brief attendees on your behavior expectations to maintain a friendly and safe atmosphere. You might also want to consider hiring security for larger pub crawls to help manage the crowd and diffuse any potential issues.

How many bars should be included in a pub crawl itinerary?

The ideal number of bars in a pub crawl depends on various factors, such as the duration of your event and the proximity of the bars. However, a good rule of thumb is between 4 to 6 bars. This allows enough variety without overwhelming participants. Remember, it’s not just about the number of bars but also about the quality of the experience at each one.

How do I advertise or promote my bar crawl event?

To effectively market your pub crawl, harness the power of social media. Use platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to create event pages, share updates, and interact with potential attendees. Consider partnering with local influencers or bloggers to reach a wider audience. Don’t forget traditional bar marketing methods like distributing flyers at local businesses or listing your event in local newspapers or event directories.

How can I make my pub crawls stand out from others?

To make your pub crawl stand out, infuse creativity into every aspect of the event. Unique themes, exciting games, or challenges at each bar can elevate the experience. Also, consider partnering with the bars to offer exclusive drinks or food specials. Providing memorable merchandise or swag, like customized t-shirts or drink koozies, can also help make your event stand out.

How do you organize a pub crawl fundraiser?

Organizing a pub crawl fundraiser involves careful planning. Start by setting a clear objective for your fundraiser. Then, choose a date, create a route, and make arrangements with local bars. You might want to consider adding a theme to make the event more engaging. Charge an entry fee that includes a donation to your cause, and consider selling tickets in advance.

Additionally, arrange for special drink deals with the bars, as a portion of these sales could also go toward your fundraiser. Finally, promote your pub crawl fundraiser extensively to maximize participation.

What’s the point of pub crawls?

The point of pub crawls is to provide a fun, social experience that allows participants to explore multiple bars in one night, usually with a group of friends or fellow crawl participants. It’s a chance to experience different atmospheres, try new drinks, and meet new people. It’s also a popular way to celebrate special occasions or to fundraise for a cause.

Why is it called a bar crawl?

The term “bar crawl” or “pub crawl” comes from the idea of moving or “crawling” from one bar to another over the course of a single night. The ‘crawl’ part humorously implies that as the night progresses and people consume more alcohol, they might be moving more slowly or with more difficulty, as if crawling.

How do I ensure a successful pub crawl?

A successful pub crawl requires careful planning and execution. First, consider the route and the number of bars, making sure they’re in close proximity for easy travel. Decide on a unique theme to create buzz, and set up drink and food specials with the bars on your list.

Prioritize safety measures, like ensuring participants have access to safe transportation. Lastly, promote your event extensively and encourage participants to buy tickets in advance.

What is the difference between Bar Hopping and Pub Crawling?

Bar hopping and pub crawling are similar in that both involve moving from one bar to another in a single night. The main difference lies in the organization. Bar hopping is usually more casual and spontaneous, with a small group of friends deciding on the fly which bar to visit next.

A pub crawl, on the other hand, is typically a structured event, often with a pre-set route, theme, and sometimes an entry fee, which might include certain drink specials or activities at each bar. Pub crawls often attract larger groups of participants than bar hopping.


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