A few good trivia night ideas can pack your seats and fill your register, all while giving your customers a memorable time

You can find it any night of the week in Boise, Idaho. One company in New York City hosts it at 65 locations. And in Fort Worth, Texas, you’ll have to choose between Harry Potter or Disney. What is it? Trivia night. Ideas for hosting a trivia night are wide open. Choose any night, any theme, add in a prize, and chances are you’ll have an audience.

Like any event, though, a trivia night at your bar, restaurant, coffee shop, or anywhere else you host events, needs a plan. Should you host a trivia night? Is it worth the effort? If you need proof that people love trivia, take a look at these numbers:

The television game show Jeopardy first aired in 1964, and the version currently running premiered in 1984. The show has 34 Daytime Emmy Awards and boasts an audience of 23 million weekly viewers.

In 2018, Hasbro released the 40th-anniversary edition of the board game Trivial Pursuit. While the classic version is still a hit, there have been dozens of editions produced over the decades, including multiple Genius editions. Other editions highlight the Beatles, Star Wars, Disney, and even a Stranger Things Back to The 80s edition.

Great, right? Now how do you put some of your trivia night ideas into action and get your seats filled?

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Trivia night ideas: The do’s and don’ts of hosting a successful event

1. Social media is your friend.

You know this, of course, but it’s especially true for event nights, and trivia night is no exception. Hype up your event by posting any specials that are exclusive for trivia night. Feature your game host. Tag any sponsors with an @ on Twitter or Instagram. Even Tweet a few of the questions ahead of time so people know what they can look forward to.

Trophy- 10 Trivia Night Ideas and Tools That Keep Players Coming BackOn game night, live Tweet the questions, and have them appear on the digital signage around your establishment. That’s a nice touch for any attendees who miss the question. They just need to read it from your sign.

2. Get creative with prizes.

Cash is always great, but there are plenty of prize possibilities that can draw people. Offer a gift card for free apps (good on the next visit), free t-shirts (which also means free advertising for you), or a prize from another local business. If you have a theme for your contest, offer an associated prize (a wand for a Harry Potter trivia night, for instance).

3. Make the rules clear and concise.

Nothing ruins a fun game like a dispute over the rules. Make sure your host shares the rules before the game begins. Print them at the top of the answer sheets. Don’t, however, make the rules so detailed that no one can have fun. Start with the basics (team size limits, no cell phones) and add on if you need to.
hourglass- 10 Trivia Night Ideas and Tools That Keep Players Coming Back

4. Keep the game moving.

Make sure you hold the interest of your players. Set a time limit for each question and answer – and for the game itself. It’s better to leave your audience wanting more than it is to overdo it.

5. Plan in advance for tiebreakers.

You will have ties. What are you going to do about them? Speed round? A Final Jeopardy-style bet on a single question? The funniest answer to a question, as judged by the audience?

6. Make it DIY.

You can hire a host for trivia night, or you can do it yourself. There are pros and cons to each, but hiring can be expensive, especially if you have someone on your staff who would love to host. Yes, you do still have to pay them, but you also have a business relationship with them already. You know what to expect, they know your customers, and you’re less likely to experience unpleasant surprises.

Looking for some more promotional ideas? Check out this article on restaurant promotion ideas beyond trivia night for more things you can do besides Trivia Nights.

7. Use your resources.

Even if you go the DIY route, you can still make it easy on yourself. A variety of trivia night packages can get you going in no time. Most include questions and answers, as well as scoring sheets. Some are customizable, and many come as subscription packages, so you get a new game every week.

Some possible options include:

8. Take a break

Take a break between rounds. You do, after all, want your audience to order food and drinks! Give them a chance to stretch, refresh, and be social.

9. Don’t charge admission.

Ticket- 10 Trivia Night Ideas and Tools That Keep Players Coming BackThis might be one of the more controversial trivia night ideas, and you can certainly decide what works best for your place, but if the goal is to get people in to spend money on food and drinks, creating a barrier isn’t going to help. Ideally, your trivia night will be fun enough that people come because they know they’re going to have a good time. More people = more sales. If you need to charge admission for trivia night because you aren’t making enough to justify the expense, you might need to rethink your approach.

10. Go to trivia nights.

Take some time and visit trivia nights at other spots. What are they doing that you like? More importantly, what are they doing that the audience loves?

Trivia night should be fun for everyone. If it isn’t working for you, don’t be afraid to switch things up. Think about your current customers and what they might like. Remember, like anything in business, it will take a little work, a little trial and error to get it right. But if you want a trivia night, go for it. You’ll get it.


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