Stop selling drinks… Start selling experiences


By Jason Jelicich

In today’s competitive bar climate, it’s no longer enough to have a hot fit-out or a great drinks list, you must also be providing your guests with an experience that they cannot easily find elsewhere.

Let’s face it, we don’t tend to talk about places – or bother to return to them – unless they have given us a memorable experience that fits with our personalities. Whether it is an underground Prohibition experience resplendent with braces and beards (a la Palmer & Co) or an eclectic mix of cocktails and taxidermy (a la Shady Pines), we all like something that’s different and stands out.

Here are 4 questions that top operators are constantly asking themselves about their businesses:

  1. What experiences are we aiming deliver to make our venue stand out – have we clearly defined them?
  2. Are there systems in place to make sure these experiences are executed consistently when we’re not around?
  3. If asked, can our staff explain what sets us apart from the competition– and will they all say the same thing?
  4. What else do we need to change or improve to further heighten our guest experience here?

To create unique, memorable experiences that bring people back is backbone to a great business and the key to delivering these experiences are your team. Like actors on a stage, they breathe life and energy into the performance and, the more tuned they are into the feeling you are trying to create within your guests, the better the end result.

But if your people are not connected to your vision and do not understand the optimum way to engage your clientele, then often service quality suffers and staff fall into the routine of just exchanging drinks for cash – with little or no effort being put into creating affecting the mood states of their customers. Once this ‘edge’ is lost (and it most definitely will be at some stage without focus and attention) then there is a real danger of losing business to the bar down the road.

A mantra for you staff: You are not selling drinks – you are selling experiences!

If you feel like some friendly advice in the areas of service, team engagement or training would be valuable give hospitality systems guru (and winner of the Outstanding Contribution Award at the Bar Awards 2007) Jason Jelicich, a call on (0412) 380 475 or visit his new site at

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