Sport crowd

How can hospitality businesses take advantage of major sporting events to boost profits and footfall?

Danielle Collard
7 Jun 2024

That’s the dream. But here’s the thing, every hospitality business, including your competition, shares that same dream. The difficulty isn’t having the dream; it’s having the vision to know which steps you can take to get there. Thankfully, you’ve got this short, handy guide offering you ideas and answers. So what’s stopping you? Let’s get stuck in!

First steps: choosing the right events

The first thing you need to consider when planning to host sports-based events is which sports and which games you want to host. For example, do you want to attract fans of specific sports? In that case, you might consider focusing on big events from one or two sports, such as football. That way, fans of those sports will know they can come to you to watch the games. This could offer recurring trade that gives you a boost beyond the summer months.

Alternatively, plenty of events this season will attract large numbers of fans who don’t always turn out for sports the rest of the time, such as the European football tournament or the Olympics. This could pack your business out and maximise your immediate return, but you should look for other ways to draw those customers back for repeat visits.

No matter which kinds of events you focus on, here are some points to keep in mind when making your choices:

  • What are your objectives and how will this event help you achieve them?
  • How much will hosting this event cost the business?
  • Who are your target audience and why will this event get them through the door?
  • What will you need to change to host this event successfully?

Getting ready to host: preparing for perfection

Once you know which events you’ll be hosting, you can start planning them out, making changes to your table plan, menu, inventory, staffing, and even decor.

Table planning

If people come in to watch an event displayed on a screen, adjust your seating to ensure all tables have a view of the event to avoid frustrated sports fans!


Adjust your menu or even rename food and drink, creating specials designed for the event that you can shout about to cultivate interest and encourage spending.


If you’ve run events in the past, look at your historic sales reports and assess how much extra stock you’ll need to prevent running out.


You’ll need extra staff if you’re going to make extra sales. Both the back and front of house will need more hands to keep up with demand.


Build excitement around the event with posters, flags, and merchandise. Put the decorations up before events to raise awareness and anticipation.

Reaching your audience: marketing events

From the moment you commit to hosting your event, you need to be thinking about how you can make it a sellout, and that means marketing! From word-of-mouth (powerful and free) to posters (cheap and cheerful) to emails, online ads, and social media posts (all effective when used correctly), there’s an arsenal of advertising options available to you. So which ones will work?

First, consider your budget! If you can’t afford to spend, that rules out online advertising but makes a combination of word-of-mouth and social media posts impossible to ignore. Tell everybody you know what you’ll be doing, talk to customers about your special deals and how excited you are! Post on social media to gain interested followers and watch out for engagement to see how much interest you think you’re getting.

Need more? Gather your mailing list and use tools like the Epos Now Mailchimp integration to send email adverts to make sure everybody knows about the event. And don’t just rely on the sport to get people through the door. Stand out from the crowd with competitions, games, and prizes guaranteed to get people’s attention. Your event is a chance to use your creative streak to craft an experience people will remember; after all, a positive customer experience markets itself!

Making the most of events: managing the mayhem

Ernest Hemingway coined the phrase “grace under pressure” to define courage, which is precisely what you’ll need when the hordes flood through the doors to enjoy your events. So what can you do to show grace under pressure when faced with those difficult moments, when things go wrong, customers complain, or stock runs short? How can you keep things running smoothly and even find a way to enjoy the big occasion yourself?

If your preparation has been thorough, you should only need to worry about running out of one or two items (if they prove extremely popular). But even then, have a method of restocking during the event, either by planning to dash out in a vehicle to grab more stock, or by preparing your supplier to deliver partway through. Alternatively, have alternative recommendations prepared, such as a second beer or a similar dish to one out of stock.

Next, have a space set aside where you can sit down away from the noise to handle complaints calmly, where other guests can’t hear you, and where you can think clearly to ensure you smooth over any difficulties with clear communication.

Finally, embrace the atmosphere of the event! Wear your widest smile all day and infect your team and customers with a festival cheer that helps wipe away all negativity from the event. Sport is about fun and excitement! Remember that throughout this season, and you’ll be sure to succeed financially and have a great time while you’re at it!