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How to Run a March Madness Themed Party At Your Sports Bar

Every year, more than 10 million people watch March Madness. 

It’s a sporting event unlike any other and a fantastic opportunity for your sports bar to have some of its biggest days of the year.

But in order to capitalize on the event, your party needs to stand out from other March Madness events – and that can be tough to accomplish if you’ve never thrown one before.

We put together this guide to help you do it. Keep reading to get a step-by-step look at what it takes to throw a memorable March Madness party at your sports bar.

An overview of throwing a great March Madness party

We’ll get into the details of what separates an average March Madness party from a great one below. But for now, these are the most important things to keep in mind while planning yours:

  • Make sure that you have enough TVs to show all of the games
  • Get people in the mood with special drinks, menu items and discounts
  • Schedule enough staff members to keep up with the increased traffic
  • Use trivia quizzes to keep customers engaged during breaks in the action

Make sure that you take care of the basics

To throw a March Madness party that will get people talking, you need the following:

  • Enough TVs to show all of the important games
  • Digital signage software to power your game-day line-up
  • Plenty of good food and drinks
  • Decorations to bring your party to life
  • Ways to keep your guests entertained in between games

Don’t let these things ruin your party

You should also familiarize yourself with some of the most common ways that March Madness parties can be derailed.

Here are the top things to avoid while throwing one of these parties at your sports bar:

  • Not doing enough to make the event stand out from a normal day at your bar
  • Failing to schedule enough staff to work the party
  • Not using technology to make managing the event easier on you
  • Failing to make your bar a comfortable place to watch the games

Step 1: Make sure your bar’s set up will work for March Madness

One of the best parts of March Madness is the fact that there are so many entertaining games going on at the same time during the early rounds.

You want to make sure that the people who come to your bar can experience that. Make sure you have enough TVs in convenient locations throughout your bar to show all of the games at once.

Additionally, people might want to spend a lot longer in your bar than they usually do during your March Madness event. It’s a good idea to beef up your comfortable seating options to make that easy for them to do.

Finally, you may have a lot more people than usual in your bar during March Madness. It could be a good idea to rearrange your seating options to better accommodate patrons if you think your venue will get crowded.

Step 2: Add themed menu items, decorations and drinks

Part of throwing a great March Madness party is making sure the event feels like something special. Adding themed menu items, decorations and drinks to your menu should help get your guests in a festive mood.

If you need some inspiration, consider searching on Pinterest. You’ll find a ton of cool ideas and instructions on how to make the decorations. It’s a great way to set your March Madness celebration apart from others.

Step 3: Advertise your March Madness party

Next up is making sure that people know about the legendary party you’re about to throw. There are lots of good ways to make sure people get the message.

First, you can use digital signage to advertise the event to patrons while they’re in your bar. That way, you ensure that your most loyal customers know about the event.

You can also run ads online, leverage email marketing or post on social media. Online advertising could help you get the attention of people who might not visit your bar otherwise.

Ultimately, you know what the most effective marketing channel is for your sports bar. Be sure to use it to advertise your party in the run-up to March Madness so that all of your planning doesn’t go to waste.

Step 4: Make sure that you have enough staff working

If there’s one thing that will stop your March Madness party in its tracks, it’s not having enough staff on-hand during the event. 

The people who come to your bar do so, in part, to enjoy your food and drinks. If you don’t have enough staff on hand to serve them promptly, they’re not likely to stay very long.

If you’re worried about not having enough staff for the event, one idea is to set up self-ordering kiosks with digital signage. These let customers place their own orders on tablets so that your staff can focus on other tasks. 

Self-order kiosks essentially let you get more done with the same number of people working. This convenient technology could be a good fit for March Madness parties.

Step 5: Set up digital signage in your bar

Digital signage software can make it much easier for you to manage your screens during the chaos of March Madness.

With it, you can completely customize what you show on every screen from a single internet-connected device. That means you won’t have to worry about manually changing the channel on each TV constantly as the games begin and end.

Additionally, you can completely customize the ads that you show in-between games when you’re using digital signage. That way, you get to advertise for your bar instead of giving away that advertising space to other companies for free.

Step 6: Keep things interesting during breaks in the action

Even though it feels like there’s always a game on during the early rounds of March Madness, you will still have some downtime during the day.

If you can keep your guests entertained during that downtime, they are more likely to stay in your bar until the next round of games begins.

One fun way to do this is by hosting March Madness trivia contests when there aren’t any games on. This will keep the March Madness spirit alive and give your patrons something to do while waiting for the games to start again.

You can even offer a prize, like free drinks or a free meal, for whoever gets first place.

If you’re looking for a built-in solution to sports game downtime, UPshow’s Watch to Win tool promises to keep customers on their toes for the entire game.  

Other tips for throwing a memorable March Madness event

We’ve covered all the main points of throwing a memorable March Madness bash, but here are some additional ideas you can use to make your event stand out.

Consider offering sports betting

Sports betting is a growing industry in the United States and March Madness is one of the biggest days of the year for it. 

In 2021 alone, more than 30 million Americans placed a bet on March Madness games.

The sports betting market is one that your bar may want to tap into. You could do that by partnering with a local sportsbook and receiving a cut or by setting up your own betting options with digital signage.

Offer catering

Some people may prefer to watch March Madness at home in a more intimate setting. But you could still get their business if you offer catering options for the big event.

For example, you might let people stop by in the morning to pick up appetizers and entrees. Or, depending on local laws in your area, you could even offer drinks to-go.

Make sure people get home safely

Lastly, your guests will likely be drinking a lot during your March Madness party, so you want to be sure that their time with you ends safely.

One way to do that is by offering to call people taxis when they need them. You could also advertise Lyft and Uber on your screens with digital signage to remind people that they don’t have to drive home on their own.

Throwing a March Madness party to remember is easier with digital signage

Digital signage can help you get more out of your March Madness event. With it, you’ll have more control over your screens, be able to run your own advertisements in-between games, and let your guests take advantage of sports betting and self-service.