What Is Happy Hour? 10 Foolproof Ways to Make Your Happy Hour Successful

Happy hours are one of  the most efficient marketing methods for increasing revenue in pubs and restaurants. Happy hour and late-night drink specials account for one-third of all alcoholic beverage sales. And for good reason: everyone enjoys happy hour, where they can rest after a long day and socialize with friends while saving money.  

Happy hours are an excellent technique for restaurant owners to improve foot traffic, increase orders at the bar Point-Of-Sale (POS), and enhance profitability. In a way that in this post, we'll go over the importance of happy hours in restaurants and seven ways to make them a success.   

So, what are you waiting for? Come on!  

Happy hour is defined as any event, promotion or discount offered during bar and restaurant slow hours to entice customers to stop by and make a purchase. The slow hours for restaurants and bars are between 2 and 6 p.m., when most people are still working or attending school. 

Happy hour, often known as beer, o'clock, social hour, discount drinks, or cost-effective cocktails, is the magical time of day when many restaurants and bars offer discounts on beverages and appetizers. These discounts range from two-for-one offers to special prices on certain food and beverage combinations.  

In terms of timing, it occurs in the late afternoon and early evening, which is the lull between the end of the workday and the start of the dinner rush. Depending on the sort of restaurant, happy hour might take place at any time of day (or night). 

Why is Happy Hour Important in Restaurants?

Before we get into the various ways you can make happy hour a success at your restaurant, let's first go over the benefits of happy hour.   

1. Increase Sales  

According to one study, happy hour accounts for 60.5% of the weekly average revenue at bars and restaurants, even when big discounts are offered. The average cost during happy hour is $68.99, which is around $8 higher than the regular bill during other times.  

This amazing statistic shows how effective happy hours can be at increasing traffic. In addition to greater bill sizes, it is an excellent strategy to enhance foot traffic during sluggish times of the week.  

2. Attract New Customers  

There's no denying that a happy hour can be an excellent way to temporarily boost sales. However, it is a formula for long-term success.  

Consider happy hour as a test run for your restaurant, rather than a one-time event. During this time, customers will only get a taste of what your restaurant has to offer. If they enjoy their stay, they will most likely return.  

For example, offering a well-curated selection of your regular food and beverage menu will ensure that your new guests become loyal customers.   

3. Upsell orders  

Upselling is the art of marginally raising the price of a customer's order during happy hours, making them financially rewarding.

In other words, not everyone will pay exceptionally low prices just because the promise of a discounted drink menu enticed them in. In this case, upselling can be incorporated into the marketing strategy by giving customers the choice of purchasing a larger drink for an additional dollar or by charging a small fee for a side of dip.  

4. Generate buzz for new restaurants 

Unless you own a speakeasy, happy hour is rarely a mysterious event that needs to be kept hidden. Instead, this period is considered a social gathering that can significantly boost your restaurant's buzz.  

Advertise your happy hour drink and food discounts on social media sites, table signage, and through grapevine marketing to raise brand awareness. According to a survey, more than 75% of customers will try a new restaurant if given a discount.  

In other words, don't underestimate the marketing power of a solid happy hour promotion. 

10 Ways to Make Your Happy Hour Successful

1. Offer an exclusive menu 

Developing a distinctive signature drink or meal is an excellent marketing strategy. Create one with a unique name that will only be accessible at your bar or restaurant. Customers will prefer your restaurant over your competitors because of the exclusivity and sense of urgency it creates.  

In addition to drawing a curious consumer base, a chef can test new recipes on the special menu before introducing them to the normal menu. You might have a creative barman who thinks their new cocktail will be the next great thing. Give it a shot.

2. Know Your Customers  

Before you start lowering drink rates or giving dollar beers, consider who your existing customers are. Look at POS records and analytics to see what things sell best at different times of day. You can then tailor a happy hour special to popular, high-margin selections.   

For example, your Sales by Menu Item report may show that your customers are mostly business people who prefer wine over beer and cocktails. With this knowledge, you can target your campaigns to this population by offering wine discounts later in the day.  

3. Have attractive discounts and offers 

Never underestimate the power of an affordable menu to energize a happy hour. Visitors should feel free to order as much food and drink as they choose without breaking the bank. According to Statista, 63% of US consumers take advantage of happy hours in pubs and restaurants to save money on food. Another 60% believe it is because drinks are cheaper.  

Customers not only want cheap food and drinks, but they also expect lower costs, and they choose happy hour locations based on the value they will receive. 

4. Experiment with your happy hours 

These promotions are typically held during the wonderful lull between the end of the workday and the beginning of the dinner rush. While the post-work happy hour is popular, with a little forethought, almost any hour can be transformed into a happy hour.  

Late-night happy hours, for example, have become a popular approach used by many pubs and restaurants to attract a younger audience. The National Restaurant Association reports that “More than half of consumers under the age of 35 make late-night restaurant visits several times a month, compared to just a quarter of consumers over 35."  

Furthermore, 41% of those aged 21 to 34 think that specials like this influence their decision to visit a late-night restaurant. Therefore, half-priced cocktails at 10 p.m. may attract some younger consumers.  

Of course, make sure to verify your local and state legislation before having this type of campaign; you don't want to lose your liquor license!  

5. Entice customers with large platters  

Happy hour is generally linked with alcohol deals, yet 41% of guests come for the cuisine. This implies you'll need to go beyond a selected drink menu to attract a crowd.  

Food can be included in several ways, such as: 

  • Creative Food and Drink Pairings: For a discounted price, pair different drinks with complementary dishes.  
  • Small Plates: You can introduce new customers to your menu by serving small plates of your most popular lunch and dinner items. 
  • Shareable Snacks: Make your menu more appealing to larger parties by including shareable foods during this time.  
  • Try a Theme: Make it an event by offering a food and beverage menu based on a certain theme, such as Taco Tuesday or Monday Night Football.  

When trying out different happy hour meals, keep an eye on bill sizes. Paying attention to this vital measure will allow you to better understand the popularity of each item, how many people order, and the influence on your bottom line.  

Small meals are perfect for happy hour, but huge sharing platters also work well. According to the same Statista survey, 39% of customers use happy hours to catch up with friends, while 45% utilise the time to unwind.  

With so many customers utilizing it to catch up with friends, restaurants cannot afford to send them away by limiting menu options. To attract large groups, balance large platters and appetizers.  

6. Provide non-alcoholic options 

If your campaign just concentrates on alcoholic beverages, you could be missing out on a significant portion of the market.  

Believe it or not, 40% of customers globally want to reduce their alcohol use for health reasons. Furthermore, the market for low- to zero-alcohol beverages is predicted to expand by 32% between 2018 and 2022. This is a developing trend, fueled primarily by health-conscious consumers who wish to drink less while maintaining their social lives.  

To appeal to non-drinkers and the “sober curious," combine some inventive mocktails with your other drink promotions. You can also construct a completely zero-proof happy hour menu, which is very useful for businesses in states that have banned these types of drink deals.  

7. Utilize social media platforms  

Nowadays, a social media presence is important, particularly for those in the hospitality or food and beverage businesses.  

Use social media tools to market your menu, specialty cocktails, and happy hour specials. Alternatively, create a memorable hashtag for customers to use when posting about your happy hour on social media. You can also utilize your email database to send invitations and advertise your happy hour.  

The trend of “brunching" has become increasingly popular, especially on weekends. Restaurants and cafes often promote special brunch menus or deals, attracting customers who are looking for a relaxed and indulgent mid-morning meal. The hashtag #BrunchGoals is frequently used on social media platforms to showcase aesthetically pleasing brunch dishes and experiences, enticing others to join in on the trend. 

8. Bring the entertainment

With so many restaurants offering happy hour promotions, it can be difficult to differentiate yours. Instead of giving rock-bottom prices, adding entertainment such as trivia or live music can help your business stand out.

While entertainment may appear to be an additional cost, it can help fill tables and increase bill sizes.

Including entertainment at your restaurant, such as trivia night or live music, might help it stand out. However, do not limit yourself to hiring simply musicians or comedians. Instead, consider unconventional ideas.

For example, you can hold a 'wine and paint' night in your restaurant. Or collaborate with local organizations to take advantage of cross-promotional opportunities. You might also hold a singles-only night on Valentine's Day to allow customers to socialize while enjoying discounted cocktails.

9. Train your staff 

Your team plays a crucial role in running productive happy hour. Although happy hours can be stressful and demanding for employees, the consumer always comes first.  

Not only should they be knowledgeable about the promotions, but they should also grasp the value of paying attention to customers. Furthermore, you should schedule employees' shifts in the most efficient manner possible.  

Furthermore, the most efficient strategy to promote your happy hours is to use your front-of-house staff. Make sure your guests are aware of unique offers to keep them coming back since 85% of consumers claim special discounts will entice them to eat out rather than at home.  

10. Set up your pricing events in your POS 

Once you've determined the days, times and happy hour promotions, it's time to set everything up in your cloud-based restaurant or bar POS system. You can accomplish numerous things by scheduling happy hour times and menu pricing ahead of time:  

You assist your front-of-house workers work more efficiently when it comes to placing orders and accepting payments—no need for them to manually write in discounts or acquire manager approvals.  

You get better data on the back end, allowing you to particularly view happy hour sales figures and optimize your happy hour with menu engineering.  

You reduce theft by ensuring happy hour discounts are only available during the defined happy hour timeframe.  


Today's happy hour is more than just a time slot. They allow you to express your creativity and make important connections with your guests. When your company adopts the concept of happy hours, you create a fun and appealing environment with engaging events, one-of-a-kind food and drink experiences, and excellent offers that can boost your company's profits.