It’s the final countdown: 2018 is coming to a close and with the holidays approaching, you have a lot on your mind. Staffing issues, menu additions, and personal priorities take a front seat during the holiday season, but there’s one final celebration that you should start planning for.

For over 100 years, millions of people have joined together with family and friends to reflect on the year that passed and cheers to another year of possibilities. The first New Year’s Eve celebration took place in New York city in 1904 and the first ball was lowered from the Times Square Tower in 1907, marking the beginning of an event billions of people around the world would celebrate, bidding farewell to the departing year and expressing joy and hope for the year ahead.

New Year's Eve in Times Square, 1953.
New Year’s Eve in Times Square, 1953. CREDIT: Neal Boenzi/The New York Times

For restaurants and bars, there’s a big opportunity to attract anyone that wants to get out of the house and ring in the party out on the town. Whether you’re into a big bash or a lowkey night, we have a few tips and the best strategies to promote whatever you’ve got planned for NYE.

Eight Steps to Help Make Your New Year’s Eve Party a Success

1. Start Planning Now

The most successful New Year’s parties start promoting months in advance with a few simple tools. All you need is a website, social media presence, and online ticketing options if you will be selling tickets to your event. Even if you just confirm a time for your event, planning ahead allows time for organic buzz to spread and gives you ample time to focus on the details with your team.

2. Offer Early Bird Ticket Options

If your event will be ticketed, set up multiple ticket types and an early bird option to lock in those who want to nail down plans weeks in advance. Offer a small price break for your early bird option to motivate the eager party-goers. If you get your first buyers excited, they’ll be more likely to give you some great word-of-mouth marketing and share their plans with friends and family.


3. Give Your Customers a Chance to Splurge

Consider setting up ticket options that include VIP perks like bottle service or swag to make the night a little extra special. New Year’s only happens once a year, and people love to splurge on a magical night out. An Eventbrite poll revealed that a third of voters are willing to pay $51 to $100 for entry to a prime New Year’s party, and 11 percent are happy to pay over $200 for the ticket alone.

Beyond offering VIP tickets, offer add-on perks for regular priced tickets, such as:

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  • Open bar
  • Premium liquor
  • Free champagne
  • Private restrooms
  • Quick entry

4. Connect with Promoters

For your party to attract the biggest names in town, you should enlist a network of promoters. Fans, performers, sponsors, vendors, and social media celebrities all contribute to spreading the word. Check follower counts for some of your favorite foodie accounts and ask them to promote on your behalf in exchange for discounts for the event for them and their friends.

5. Sell Your Event on Social Media

Using a mix of organic and paid social media promotion will help spread the word to your loyal fans and those who might not be aware that your restaurant exists. With Facebook’s ad targeting, you can set up Facebook and Instagram promotions in one spot, choose your demographics, and how long you’d like to promote for. You’ll be sure sell out of tickets in no time.

Riley Hutton at Truluck's Bar

6. Drive Organic Online Search

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is how you get your event to rank higher on a search results page like Google. If someone Googles “New Year’s Eve party in Chicago,” your nearby event should pop right up. The first step is to invest in the writing of your online event description on your website. Use keywords you suspect people will search to find the best celebration in town, and your website will pop up for searchers to see.

7. Establish a Theme

The best New Year’s Eve parties are all in the details. Start brainstorming now to create a purposeful experience for your attendees, all the way down to the signature cocktails, lobby music, and décor to wow your guests as soon as they walk in the door. Set up a Google Doc and share it with your team so you can create space where everyone can contribute their own ideas, then vote on your favorites and start planning a night to remember. Once you’ve settled on a theme, start promoting it on social media so your party-goers can dress accordingly.

8. Double Down on Promotion After Christmas

While it’s important to promote your event early to get it on the radar of search engines and real people, be mindful of last-minute buyers. According to Eventbrite, 46 percent of people say they decide which New Year’s party to attend at the last minute. Double down on your advertising in the time between Christmas and New Year’s so you’re top of mind when potential guests are making plans with family and friends.

With these tips, you’ll have an unstoppable event marketing strategy that you can apply to every party, all year long.

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Written by   |  
Holly Everett is a five-year restaurant industry veteran turned small business marketing specialist. After working at Seven Stars Bakery in Providence, Rhode Island throughout college, she entered the world of marketing where she led B2B marketing initiatives at companies focusing on growing small businesses.