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comment by goobster
goobster  ·  289 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: June 6, 2018

    The "free drink" is the last thing left to figure out.

I had to deal with this exact thing when I was doing tours. There were two "tricks" to it:

1. Come in during a slow time of day. They pay their bartenders to be there the whole time. So if you can bring patrons in during a dead time of day, they will be MUCH happier to see you!

2. Have a special short standard drink you offer for free. Give them a tumbler of beer (as opposed to a pint) for free. Make it something simple, cheap, and local. Half the patrons will go for the freebie, and others will "upgrade" and buy their own drink instead. This gives the bar more income. Have a fixed price you pay for the shortie... like $1 each. Also, you don't want drunk people on your tour... so giving them a shortie drink helps keep them from getting too trashed during the tour. (My tour used to stop at several bars, so this could be a problem. Pound a shot at one bar; pound a shot at the second; pound a shot at the third... and all hell breaks loose.)

It's also good form to have some cool info about the space/pub/club/building you are bringing people to. Tell them about the place. Get them interested in the architecture or history of the establishment.

After all, they are tourists, and don't know any place else in town. So if you make THIS place seem interesting, then they are more likely to come back AFTER the tour and buy more drinks, food, strippers, whatever.

Finally, get to know the people behind the bar. When you bring tours in, always go to the same part of the room to give them the story/spiel, away from the bar. As you walk in, make eye contact with the bartender, say hi, and direct your crowd to The Story Spot. This way the bartender knows who you are, and what is going on, and doesn't have to deal with you until you come to them.

Once story-time is over, walk your group to the bar, introduce them to the bartender, and tell them they get to try the local FancyLocalBrewName beer for free, or can buy their own drink. Remind them to tip the bartender.

This is you showing respect to the business, the business owner, and their staff. That way they will always be happy to see you come back in.

elizabeth  ·  289 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Great tips, thanks! I'll try to read up a bit more about the places we visit. I usually have a little spiel about the prohibition and how it relates to Montreal but I keep it short since most people on my tour are Americans. Didn't know you used to run tours like this. You really did a lot of different things eh!?

We've been running the tour for a while, so the bartenders know us already and are great sports about it. If they can, they try to keep an open seated spot for us :) However, to get a "specialty" drink or even a smaller version of a drink, they can't really do much about it. I need to speak to a manager for that. I'm going to ask the bartenders tonight if they would consider splitting a cocktail into 7 "shots". This way, we'd be paying for 4 drinks (we visit 4 bars) instead of 7 and the people would get a taste of the signature drink at every place. It's more work for them, but even if we tip generously we come up on top expense-wise.

You have any wild stories from your tour guide days? Where was that? I'm guessing somewhere in the UK?

goobster  ·  288 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Yes. Talk to the Manager. They want more business, and want to incentivize you to bring people in to their place of business.

The bartenders? You are just more work. They don't make more money if you come in, and then you take your patrons away to another bar. They have little motivation to do more than the minimum for you. So you need to have an official arrangement with the manager, and the manager needs to tell the bartenders how to meet the arrangement you have with the manager.


I used to be a Ghost Tour Guide in Pike Place Market in Seattle, and also did the affiliated Lust Tour. (Here's some proof. And More Proof under a different name, and me again.) I walked people around the market after closing hours, and told them ghost stories and the gory history of our city. (Like Dr Linda Hazzard, the "Starvation Doctor", active hauntings that still happen almost weekly in a bar called Kells, that is where the mortuary used to be. The brothel that used to operate in the Market, and what would happen when the navy fleets of thousands of men came to a brothel that employed 30 women... The ghost of Chief Sealth's daughter, "Princess Angeline", which is still seen in the Market sometimes today... etc.)

The Lust Tour was a seriously dirty/sexy/gross history of Seattle's 1st Ave, which used to have the highest density of porn shops anywhere in the world. Fun tour...