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How to Host a Trivia Night

Written by

Brianna LeCompte

I still remember attending my first Trivia night back in 2013. A group of my coworkers were discussing some options for happy hour venues and when we saw that a spot down the street was hosting a Trivia Night, we decided to go for it. I was instantly hooked. When the opportunity arose to join the Last Call team, I was ecstatic. Working with a talented and creative team to spread my love of trivia across the country-what could be better! I currently manage sales and outreach in our west coast areas. Outside of work, I love to travel and am also an avid equestrian and Disney movie lover.All Posts
Host Adam StoneCIN1

Trivia Night has been a consistent part of my social life since graduating college. With our full-time jobs keeping us busy, my friends and I quickly found Trivia to be our weekly opportunity to catch up and have fun for a few hours.

In fact, I loved playing so much that I started looking into ways to become more involved. And that’s when I had a wonderful epiphany – I could make some serious money by learning how to host Trivia for bars myself.

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Hosting is a great side hustle because it can become whatever you choose to make it. Whether you’re a college student looking for a part-time gig or you plan on turning it into a full-time job, you can host as often as you choose. Eventually, you can even hire on other hosts and scale-up your side hustle. Your journey to success starts with learning how to become a host.

I’ve learned quite a bit during my time as a player, host, and full-time Trivia ambassador. Below, you’ll find a list of my most important tips on hosting events. Whether you plan to save for retirement, start a new career, or just have some extra spending money, these tips will help you become a successful host.

Start with Bars Where You Have an “In”

As with any side hustle, you need to find a customer. This might seem like an intimidating first step, but it’s not nearly as hard as it seems.

First, consider any connections that you have to any bar or restaurant owners and managers. Starting with people you already know gives you a lower barrier to entry, because you’ve already established a relationship. If you don’t have any industry connections, other promising options are locations and areas that your competitors haven’t gone or venues where you’re a regular.

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You’re Selling Increased Revenue, not Trivia

When you approach the bar owner, be sure to focus on how your service will help their business. Trivia can transform a bar’s slowest night into the busiest night of the week. It provides consistent, repeat business and some venues report that their revenue triples on certain occasions.

Bar owners are a unique group to sell to, but by keeping their needs – and how you can solve for them – in mind, you can speak their language (hint: $).

Work with the Bar Owner

You may have to sweeten the deal when you first start hosting Trivia for bars.

 

Whether that means offering the first show for free, allowing the venue to cancel at any time, or negotiating your price, keep in mind that this comes with being a new side hustler. As long as you’re not setting yourself up for a long-term loss, some concessions might be necessary for your first client.

 

Once you have a successful side hustle up and running, your shows will sell themselves.

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Invest in the Right Equipment

The good news is, starting a side hustle as a host costs far less than most other gig-economy options. The only things you’ll need to start hosting are audio equipment, a laptop, paper for printing your game materials (if you’re not using a digital game service like Last Call Trivia), and pens/pencils for teams to write down their answers.

 

When teaching side hustlers how to host shows, I always say audio equipment is a must-have because it ensures that all teams will be able to hear you clearly. Some venues do have their own sound systems which hosts can pipe into, but if you choose to seek out only these locations rather than investing in your own equipment, you will limit your options and earning potential.

 

Your laptop will serve as a music source for playing music between songs. It also allows you to keep score more quickly and accurately than calculating by hand.

 

All told, you can expect to spend around $300 on equipment to get your side hustle started. And since the average show goes for $150-$200 per show, that means you’ll make back your money by the second week!

Use High-Quality Questions

Once you land your first hosting gig, the most important step you can take is to ensure that you knock every show out of the park. The word about your side hustle will spread, especially in the age of social media, so make sure you leave a great impression. A few stumbles on the microphone won’t sink your side hustle, but one thing that definitely will – bad questions.

Accurate

When writing a Trivia for bars, there are several important things to consider. First, and most importantly, your questions absolutely must be accurate. In other words, no amount of creative tweaking can fix an incorrect question/answer.

Relevant

Second, try to stick to relevant topics. Because if a question dives too deep into a niche category, teams will struggle to come up with the answer.

Context Clues

The best questions also include small hints, or context clues, within their wording to point teams towards the correct answer. Take this question for example, “Years after achieving success with his siblings, who became the first entertainer to have officially ratified sales of more than 100 million albums outside the USA in 2006?” The sibling detail isn’t related to the main part of the question but it helps lead teams toward the correct response- Michael Jackson.

Length

Also, try to keep your questions around the length of the above example. Longer questions can become confusing, but short questions tend to take the fun out of things. If the question is only a few words long, find a way to add more information and clues to make the question more enjoyable.

Pro Tip

Admittedly, there are a lot of elements that go into creating a great question and putting together an entire show can take a full day of work. That’s why I suggest investing in a subscription to a service like Last Call Trivia. All of the questions from Last Call Trivia games are written by a team of experts from around the world and have been researched, fact-checked, and tested in front of a live audience.

Plus, a Last Call Trivia subscription includes helpful features like an easy-to-use web-based bar Trivia app for gameplay, scoreboard updates, simple digital scorekeeping, and more. In short, by leaving the questions to the experts, you can focus on growing your side hustle or enjoying your precious free-time.

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Create a Playlist that works for you

One of my favorite parts of hosting Trivia for bars is creating a playlist for the show. I always create my playlist ahead of time, so I don’t have to think about which song to play next during the game. The playlist serves two main purposes: It provides background noise to keep teams from overhearing each other and it sets the tone of the game.

As a result, it’s best to avoid songs that take awhile to pick up or have drastic changes in volume. I also try to stick to upbeat songs. A slow song is okay here and there, but keep your playlist more “house party” than “pity party.”

Your music selection is another opportunity for you to create a customized experience. Before your first show, check with the venue to see if they have any genre preferences and ask your teams for song requests as you chat with them each week.

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Promote your Trivia Night

Bar and restaurant owners love Trivia Night because of the extra money it brings in. Players love it because they can enjoy some friendly competition to break up their week. That means both owners and players benefit from a well attended show. So learning how to promote your show is almost as important as learning how to become a host.

The best way to spread the word is through social media. Social media offers a free platform for you to promote your show far and wide. Be sure to encourage the bar staff to post as well to increase the reach of your promotional efforts.

In my experience, Facebook is the most effective platform for promoting events. Post about your show each week as a reminder to players. You can also get creative and post questions, funny memes, polls, etc to build your following and create a community.

Add a Creative Twist to Your Trivia Nights

I’ve already touched on the importance of customizing the experience to fit your audience, but this tip takes the concept a step further. One way to really set yourself apart from your competitors is to add a creative, signature “twist” to your Trivia Nights. The opportunities here are endless and you can go as big – or as small – as you choose.

For example, some hosts add a theme round to their shows, which they leverage in their promotions. Or, you could even host an entire theme show. Topics that have a huge following like Harry Potter, The Office, and Disney are really popular. Super fans love to show off their knowledge and bar owners love the increased attendance. Just be sure to host theme shows sparingly, because general knowledge shows will allow you to build up a following of players.

Other hosts have created their own league which adds an additional level of competition and incentive to play. A similar but less involved approach is to create a trophy which gets passed to the winning team each week. Even if your signature is as small as closing each show with a particular song, having a distinct feature will allow players to make the connection to your brand.

So there you have it; everything you need to know about becoming a host. Whether hosting is your part time gig for extra spending money or a long term business plan, these tips will help lead you to your goal.