How to host a Trivia Night: A Step-By-Step Guide

October 6, 2021

If you run a bar, you probably spend a lot of time thinking about how to get more people into it. But this can be tough to do every night of the week. That’s why you may want to look into hosting a trivia night.

As an unendingly popular social option, trivia nights can be a great way to help you get more people into your bar so that you can boost your sales. And if you’re interested in hosting one, you’ve come to the right place.

Keep reading to get a step-by-step look at why hosting a trivia event could be a good move for your bar and instructions for how to host trivia night from the very beginning.

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What is trivia night?

Trivia night is a staple of the American social scene, bringing together friends and family for some friendly competition, good food and a few laughs. It’s a time to show off what you know about pop culture, history and all of the various niches and themes that your local bar or restaurant comes up with.

Generally played in teams, a designated host asks rounds of questions on a wide variety of topics. It can be anything from geography, music, literature, history, and popular culture, to sports and science. It’s also becoming more and more common for trivia nights to be themed on a single topic, like movies, decades or TV shows. A trivia night can be held in a pub, restaurant, or even a living room, with the questions varying in difficulty and length. 

It’s the perfect way to round up a crowd of hungry and competitive regulars who are looking to lead their team to glory by answering the most questions correctly. But, trivia night can also be relaxed, and often the “underdogs” who may not be racking up points can be seen enjoying themselves, sharing drinks and having a good time with their less competitive teammates. 

At the end of the night, a winner is usually declared, with prizes often given out. These prizes can range from gift cards and cash, to bar tabs and tickets to events.

Trivia nights have become increasingly popular in recent years, with many bars and restaurants hosting regular weekly or monthly competitions.

Why host a trivia night?

Turn a slow night into a busy one

Most bars tend to be busier on the weekends and slower during the week. But if you host trivia on a weeknight, you could turn a weekday into one of your busiest times.

This is one of the main reasons that bar owners host trivia nights: to get more people coming in at a point of the week that would be slow otherwise. Doing this could boost your bottom line significantly.

Build loyalty

Ongoing trivia events are also an excellent way to earn your customer’s loyalty. 

If you host a good event, people will want to keep coming back to it. And soon enough, people will know your place as the great bar with the fun trivia night. Providing these types of experiences to your customers can help to make sure they keep coming back.

Create a community

Similarly, adding a trivia night to your bar’s weekly calendar can help you build a stronger community. 

These events tend to create a fun, lively atmosphere that gets people talking. And when that happens, your guests will invite their friends, thereby creating a stronger community.

Choose your trivia night format

Once you’ve decided to host a trivia night, the first thing to do is select your  trivia night format. You have two primary options here:

Pen and paper

This is the traditional way to host a trivia night. It’s pretty simple. The host reads out questions and the teams write down their answers on a sheet of paper.

While you can make this format work, it’s often not the most efficient. With many people being increasingly familiar with digital formats and events, many customers will be comfortable answering questions on a smartphone or tablet.

Tablets or smartphones

This is the modern way to host a trivia night. Simply display questions and any answer options you provide on a smartphone or tablet screen, then your participants complete their answers on the screen.

The best part? There’s no cheating by changing answers with this method!

Another advantage of this method is that scoring is typically done automatically, so you don’t have to worry about tallying up points on your own at the end of the night. 

Many trivia apps will even show your participants where they’re at relative to the rest of the field throughout the night, which can make the event more engaging and fun for them.

Smartphones are generally the easier option since your guests can download an app and use the phone they have to participate. But tablets can also be fun since the bigger screen allows teams to all use a single device simultaneously. 

If you choose to run your trivia night with tablets, you will typically have to purchase these and provide them to your guests. 

Whichever method you choose, running your trivia night using digital signage software can take the hassle out of organizing and displaying your trivia questions. 

Find a host and set the rules of the game

Hiring a host for trivia night vs. a staff member

Next up on your to-do list is finding a host for your trivia event. 

You will ideally need someone who can contribute to making the trivia night an enjoyable and engaging experience for your guests. You can ask one of your staff members to host, or even host yourself.

Some bar owners opt to hire a professional host instead. Depending on the vibe that you’re going for with the trivia night, you can even do something like hire a comedian to host the event. It could also be a good idea to rotate your trivia night hosts to keep the experience feeling fresh for your guests.

Having guest hosts at your trivia nights can also add another layer of laughter and enjoyment to the experience for your guests. And if you’re bringing in lots of new business, then the cost of paying someone to host the night for you could be worth it.

Team options

Now you’re ready to start figuring out what exactly the trivia event is going to look like. We recommend that you begin that process by figuring out what you want the teams competing to look like.

The standard team size is between 4 and 6 people. But you can also distinguish your trivia night from others by using a different team size, such as duos or even solos. 

Alternatively, you can also just let people choose whatever size groups they want. After all, your goal is to get them into the door so being a little flexible here could help with that.

Scoring options

The easiest way to score answers is by having your teams input them into a smartphone or tablet. That way, the app or linked digital signage solution will automatically tabulate their scores and your host won’t have to worry about it.

Another option is to let teams swap answer sheets and score each other. Or you can ask your host to do it at the end of the event.

Come up with a dispute resolution system now

Trivia nights can get pretty competitive. You’ll likely experience many situations in which there is a disagreement about whether or not a team got the answer to a question correct.

That’s why it’s important to come up with a good dispute resolution system with common trivia game rules now so that you don’t impact the flow of the game when these occur. This can be as simple as allowing the host to decide disputes.

But you can also come up with a fun way to resolve these. For example, you could resolve disputes between teams with a competitive round of rock, paper, scissors. Or you could save some of your questions as backups to ask when these situations occur. If you have fun with it, dispute resolution could enhance the quality of your trivia night instead of detracting from it.

Come up with your questions (or pick a question provider)

Next up is putting together a group of questions for your event. Ideally, the questions should be entertaining, unique and even a little humorous sometimes. Of course, you’ll want to vary the questions that you ask each week to keep the game entertaining for repeat visitors.

There are a wide range of possible categories or themes to choose from, so feel free to be creative. 

You can do this work yourself, but it’s often much easier and cost-effective to use a trivia service. These may cost you a monthly subscription, but that price usually feels like a bargain after you account for all of the time you would have to spend on creating new questions each week.

Market your trivia event

At this stage of the process, you’re ready to begin marketing your trivia event. There are a bunch of different ways to do this. But we recommend starting with in-venue advertising.

A digital signage solution like UPshow will make this easier for you. Essentially, digital signage turns your TVs into customizable ad channels. You can use it to broadcast information about your new trivia night to your existing clientele.

You may also want to run some external ads for the event. Social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter are great for this.

Try combining your trivia night with other special offers

Trivia nights should help you get more people into your bar on their own. But you still want to find a way to convert all of that new traffic into more business for your bar. One way to do that is by combining the trivia night with other offers.

For example, you might run a limited-time drink special while the trivia game takes place. Or perhaps you extend your happy hour on nights that you host trivia.

The key here is to find some way to entice people to spend money while they’re visiting your trivia night bar. Combining the game with special offers is one of the most effective ways to do that.

UPshow makes hosting trivia nights at bars easier

There are a lot of technical details that go into making a bar trivia night great. You need a clear way to display the questions you’re asking, a way for your guests to easily answer those questions, and a simple way to tabulate their responses to find out who wins.

That’s why you should seriously consider investing in UPshow’s digital signage software. It can completely digitize your trivia bar night so that it’s easier for you to run and a smoother, more enjoyable experience for your guests.

With UPshow, creating a memorable trivia night that brings more business to your bar is a breeze. Visit this link to sign up for a free custom demo of our software today.