Let’s be real, when hosting an event a big chunk of change is typically spent on booze. It’s the right thing to do right? You don’t want people buying their own drinks because that’s embarrassing… Forgive me but I disagree. Certain events yes, you should be paying for a big chunk of booze but not necessarily all of it because a) the drinking culture in Australia is changing and we are more interested in a few quality drinks, instead of writing ourselves off on the house red and b) some people are just fussy drinkers and will pay top dollar for the dry martini, shaken not stirred. So tip number one, consider your audience because your hard earned $$$$ may be better spent elsewhere.
So how do you get it right? Tip number two, a venue that offers a cash bar is like spotting a UNICORN. Let me explain some of the common options available to you at a venue.
Usually you will find here a house package and premium package. These are offered at a price per head for a length of time of your choosing. This is a good option if you like to be safe with numbers and if you think you have a boozy crowd because #freepiss
This is essentially a bar tab - you select what you want to spend and what people can use those dollary-doos on at the bar. This option works well if you’re not going to be left up the creek if they tell you your TAB has run dry 2 hours before the event closes. You can also be really smart with a TAB and only offer house booze for the first couple of hours, then open spirits in the final two hours OR if you want to be a little crafty, put a few bottles of your fave wine on the tab for your VIPs aka Bridal Party, whilst everyone else is on house. If your venue is happy to offer a cash bar once the TAB runs dry, you are winning my friend.
This is where your guests can pay their own way. If you are looking at a corporate event, workshop or networking gig - cash bar is perfect. Guests can pay for their fave drink and everyone is happy.
Maybe you want to do a drink on arrival in combination with a cash bar OR you’re feeling generous and want to pay for two drinks per person. Work with the bar on a token system, where guests are given their tokens on arrival that can be exchanged for drinks across the bar. These tokens are then reconciled post event and you pay for the number of drinks purchased with tokens.
Booze can be a sticky topic due to its exxy nature but there are a million different ways to cut the pie and ultimately it really comes down to reading your audience - how many drinks do you think they’ll drink? Would you be better spending more $$$ on quality food? Will they be expecting a free ride? At the end of the day everyone is there to have fun and alcohol is certainly not going to make or break that.