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A Bar Owner's Guide to Conquering SXSW

How to Make the Most out of this Incredible Opportunity for your Business

The world-renowned SXSW has been a beloved Austin tradition for decades. With each year, this prestigious music, film and interactive festival becomes more popular, drawing hundreds and thousands of artists, innovators and festival goers to the city.  Studies indicate that badge-holders and participants spend an estimated $49 million at thousands of downtown bars, vendors and parties during SXSW.  And whether you're a seasoned SXSW veteran or a first-timer, this chaotic 10-day festival can really kick your butt if you're not ready! "It's a week of incredible music and incredible unpredictability", says Glide Magazine. Which is why, when it comes to getting your business ready for SXSW, it's important to stay ahead of the game and prepare for the unexpected. So take advantage of this auspicious and lucrative opportunity for your business and follow these important tips to make the most out of SXSW.

Make Sure your Internet Connection is Secure
SXSW is a non-stop parade of artists and badge-holders hopping from one event to the next and looking for places to refuel in between. During this incredible week of innovation and art, half a million people flood the streets of downtown Austin and fill every bar, restaurant and business in sight to capacity. And when you've got a bar packed full of patrons waiting to place a drink order, the last thing you need is your internet to lag or even cut out! In an extreme high-volume situation like SXSW, time is of the essence! If your internet goes down and you have to process thousands of credit card transactions in spooling, you increase the risk of declines and/or insufficient funds.  Which is why it's important to bolster your internet service and even supplement it with a backup 4G service like Netsurion.  With Netsurion 4G backup, credit card processing is immediately and automatically switched over to 4G whenever wireless is unavailable, then automatically switched back whenever internet is available again. So you can process credits cards and turn those festival goers even if internet goes out. 

Download the SXSW Mobile App

If you're one of the many bars or vendors participating in SXSW this year - or if your business just happens to be smack dab in the middle of all the action - then prepare yourself for an onslaught of amped up badge holders looking for sustenance. 
Anyone who has been to SXSW knows that this 10-day festival is jam packed with parties, concerts, exhibitions, speeches, premiers and much more. From sun up to sun down there's a staggering itinerary of events, each with its own massive festival following. And, although SXSW is notoriously unpredictable and full of surprises, it's important to plan ahead as much as possible and go into each business day with as much preparation as possible. Which is why the SXSW mobile app can be extremely helpful not only for badge-holders and festival crashers but for business owners. During the week of SXSW, download this mobile scheduler and access the entire festival schedule including lineups, hourly itinerary, venue info and updates. So if your bar or restaurant is right next to a big movie premiere or across the street from a huge concert, you can be ready for the hoards of hungry people that come through your door before and after.

Plan Ahead for Menu and Price Changes    
Every year, more and more people from around the world come to SXSW to exhibit their talent and see what's new.  Last year's 10-day extravaganza attracted almost 422,000 people from 95 different countries around the world. And between the 3,212 parties, events and conference sessions, over $48 million was spent by badge holders festival goers on food and drinks. During SXSW, downtown Austin turns into a giant theme park that definitely gives Disneyland a run for its money when it comes to the staggering amount of people. So why not take advantage of this incredible revenue opportunity for your business and implement a special SXSW menu on your POS that will help speed up service and add to your bottom line. With a unique SXSW menu, you can drive more patrons toward the menu items that you want, as well as turn tables faster and get more guests in and out of your business. You might even consider temporarily disabling your happy hour menu and pricing to really take advantage of this high volume opportunity. With a fixed festival menu, patrons can make quicker menu picks, servers can deliver faster service, and you can easily track your business performance. If you plan on implementing a special SXSW menu on your point of sale and are a POS Solutions customer, be sure to get your menu programming requests in as soon as possible to ensure that your business is ready for opening night. Call us at (512) 833-9840 for help setting up your special SXSW menu.

Use Real-Time Reporting
If you own or manage multiple bars in downtown Austin, then you know the struggle of monitoring every bar at the same time. Even with one bar or restaurant it can be difficult to be everywhere you need to be all the time. While remote access to your point of sale and back office can be helpful, if you really want to stay ahead of the curve during SXSW, use a real-time reporting app like Pulse Real Time. With Pulse Real Time, you can access important actionable information on your smart phone or tablet and make quick decisions to benefit your business. Various reporting tools in Pulse include sales by category, labor, payments, comps, promos, voids and time sheets. You can even access historical data from the same day, week or month of the previous year to help forecast for the festival. Or use Pulse's built-in sales forecasting tool, which makes a living algorithm of your business's behavior based on past performance.  It's essentially like having another vigilant manager on the floor, with access to each employee's performance including guest checks, hours, average table time and average voids. Let Pulse rank your employees and determine your highest performers, so you can put your VIP players to the test during this hectic festival. If you currently have Aloha POS through POS Solutions, then Pulse Real Time is available as a monthly hosted subscription through NCR. Call us or email us to find out if Pulse Real Time is right for you!

Take Advantage of Social Media

During SXSW, the social media sphere is all abuzz with who's coming, what's happening and what to expect during this incredible 10 days. Badge holders are scanning Facebook and Twitter for special events and surprise appearances, while people across the country are vicariously following the SXSW story on Instagram and Snapchat. Over the recent years, social media has become an extremely valuable marketing tool, with more and more businesses turning to Facebook and Twitter to promote their brand. So why not shed some of the SXSW social media spotlight on your business by posting, tweeting and making use of the almighty hashtag. If your bar or restaurant is participating in SXSW, use social media to bring more badge-holders and visitors to your business. Not only can you reach people in the immediate vicinity of your business, but you can also reach a whole new potential customer base of people planning on attending the festival next year! Facebook events can be a great way to help people find your business based on searches. And using #SXSW and #SXSW on Twitter will put your bar or restaurant in a discussion among millions of people!

Keep POS Solutions Help Desk on Speed Dial
No matter how prepared you think you may be for SXSW, there's just no way to plan for the unpredictable. Anything from new employees to spotty internet can cause a major interruption in your business. And with hundreds of thousands of people walking through your doors, there is absolutely zero margin for error! Many of the point of sale providers in town do not offer local onsite support with their systems. And other point of sale companies outsource their support to tech companies overseas. POS Solutions is one of the only point of sale providers in central Texas that offers 24/7 local onsite support by experienced Austin technicians. When you call POS Solutions support, you are talking to a local expert in Austin who can access your system remotely and address your issue immediately. If you are currently a POS Solutions customer, you can make sure your business is covered during crucial times such as SXSW with help desk phone support. Let the technicians at POS Solutions take care of your system and answer your managers' questions so you can focus on promoting your business and expanding your brand during SXSW.