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What's On In March 2024 & How to Prepare Your Business

What's On In March 2024 & How to Prepare Your Business

March can be a sneaky old month, and I don’t say that because the weather starts to change, or because the winter sports seasons start to ramp up. I say it because there are a couple of pretty significant dates in the hospitality calendar that have a tendency to creep up on you if you aren’t fully prepared.

I’m talking, of course, about Mardi Gras and St Patrick’s Day.

Both days promote a general feeling of celebration and (ahem) responsible consumption of as much alcohol one can consume whilst still being within the realms of responsibility.

Both also have the ability to unite the general public in a way most other events can only dream of, Mardi Gras with its famous parades and euphoric parties, and St Patrick’s Day with its power to make everyone forget that they don’t particularly like Guinness despite there being a pint of the stuff getting warm in their hand for most of the night.

And March 2024 has the added bonus of rounding out with the Easter long weekend, just in case your weekends weren’t already full to the brim with potential trade.

So, how can your venue be fully prepared for these dates? Glad you asked.

Read on to learn how to maximise your profits, and make the most of Mardi Gras, St Patrick’s Day and the Easter long weekend.

Get your venue prepared for a mammoth March with Lightspeed’s Ultimate Hospitality Guide to Public Holidays

Mardi Gras

Let’s start off with the first huge event March has to throw at us: Mardi Gras.

Sydney mardi grasPrepare your inventory

Mardi Gras takes a lot of preparation to get right, but the payoff is worth it, trust me. For such a massive night, you’re going to want to ensure that your bar is fully stocked, and your roster has enough people on it to handle the volume.

Think about offering some signature cocktails, and make it extravagant! The more eye-catching, the better. Offer them in jugs and challenge your bar staff to come up with the most outrageous garnishes they can think of.

And don’t just order in more alcoholic beverages either. A lot of people will be after plain old bottled water (dancing for hours on end can make a bloke quite thirsty, believe me), so make sure you’ve got more than enough to go around.

Get your staffing right

Make sure there’s enough staff rostered on to handle the volume of customers you expect to have. You don’t want to be left short-handed when you send members of your crew for a well-earned break.

If this isn’t your 1st year of operating, take a stroll down memory lane and look at your Insights to see which times were your busiest. That way, you can make the most cost-effective roster imaginable.

Make it an event

There’s never a bad time for a drag-themed event, there are not many better times for one than Mardi Gras. Put on some drag trivia, drag karaoke, or even a drag queen beauty pageant. You never know, you might just discover the next Mitzi Del Bra.

If you’re worried about ordering all of this extra inventory and not being able to sell it, consider hosting a Mardi Gras banquet.

Offer guests the option to book their own section of your venue for a set price, complete with drinks, set menus, Mardi Gras merch, and everything else you feel would add to the VIP treatment. 

It’s a sure-fire way to get a solid estimate on how much extra inventory you’ll need to order, and it’s an airtight way to make sure the costs of that inventory are fully covered.

And if your venue isn’t near the main parade, fear not, because you can always host a live broadcast, so your patrons don’t miss out. Get the footy off the big screen for once and put on something guaranteed to entertain!

Respect everybody

Above all, be respectful. Most members of the LGBTQI+ community consider Mardi Gras to be ‘Gay Christmas’, and it’s a night people look forward to for the whole year. If you get behind it and put on the best show you can, that enthusiasm for such a significant night in people’s lives could see it paid back throughout the year.

St Patrick’s Day

Ah, the 2nd of March’s big parties, only this one’s a little easier to prepare for because of one significant product: Guinness.

And before you fill the comments with lists of other delicious Irish drinks, and mean words about my scope for Irish beverages in general, let me say this: I know there’s more to St Patrick’s Day than a pint of the black stuff, but the general public, more often than not, doesn’t. If you feel like playing it safe, maybe get an extra case of Jameson’s too.

And unlike Mardi Gras, St Patrick’s Day always falls on the 17th, meaning that most years, one of your weekdays is going to be the biggest day of the month.

So, where to begin?

st paddy's day guinnessAll roads lead back to Guinness.

Get the kegs ordered in advance and get to teaching your bar staff how to pour it properly. Believe me when I tell you that there’s no bigger snob than a Guinness critic, and they won’t hesitate to tell you when you do it wrong. The same is true for pouring it well though, and if you can bang out a shamrock in the head, it’ll put even the hardest critic’s minds at ease.

And because of this monumental demand for Guinness, it would also be a good idea for larger places to hire a couple of magic boxes and set up some floating Guinness bars throughout your venue. I once worked one in the middle of a dance floor and almost made as much as the main bar in an afternoon.

Give the jukebox the day off

Speaking of dance floors, you’re going to need some music to entice the responsibly drinking public to spank the planks. And whilst there are plenty of adequate playlists chocked full of hearty, Gaelic tunes to get your toe tapping, no other day of the year truly lends itself to a live band than St Patrick’s Day, provided you don’t live next door to any brand-new housing, and their particularly sterile brand of cultural development.

But be quick and be prepared to pay a little extra. Demand for Gaelic musicians is never higher than on St Patrick’s Day (for obvious reasons), but it’ll be worth it for the atmosphere they can create with a live audience.

And speaking of the audience…

March merch

There’s seldom a crowd more willing to don some merch than a St Patrick’s Day party, so when you’re ordering all of that extra Guinness, ask your rep for as much merch as they can spare.

Offer it out for free (with the purchase of 5 pints of Guinness, of course) to any and all, and watch in delight as an entire room of people in polyester top hats bounce merrily to a live rendition of Brown Eyed Girl

Think you’re ready for March’s public holiday onslaught? Double check with Lightspeed’s 10-step Public Holiday Checklist

The Easter long weekend

Now usually, the Easter long weekend is April’s problem, but 2024 throws an early curveball and we find ourselves celebrating the start of what I like to call the public holiday season in the last weekend of March instead.

And again, this isn’t a bad thing.

Easter staffing

At this point in the month, your staff should be fully limbered-up and able to put in another mammoth shift having had a weekend in between events to recover, but not enough of a break to lose their edge.

But that doesn’t mean they don’t need a break.

Be crafty with your roster. Don’t have your top guns rostered on at the same time or you could be left with an unexperienced team for some of the busier times whilst your best staff have clocked off. Instead, pepper your roster with a good mix of fresh meat and experience.

Also, don’t roster people on for every day of the long weekend. They might tell you that they want the extra hours on public holiday rates, but these shifts are both brutal and desirable, so spread the wealth and save your staff from burning out.

If you run a bottle-o from your venue, consider the effects Good Friday’s restrictions have on your takeaway trade and think about an unexpectedly-busy Thursday looming its ugly head.

Either way, your March is set to end with an almighty bang as (probably) the biggest long weekend of the year draws the month to a close.

So, how do you prepare your business?

So there you have it, some easy steps to take to ensure that your venue isn’t caught off guard by March’s dark horse celebrations.

Whether it’s the essential extra hands to help with the crowds, tuning out of the sport for an evening, or a big event offering the full VIP experience – March is a time for special events to celebrate vibrant cultures.

Just remember that with the extra inventory you order, most suppliers will have some special merch that you can use as an incentive to drive sales (don’t forget to give your bar staff a quick refresher on the proper way to pour a pint). And it’s always a good idea to have some live music, lord knows musicians need the money after the run they’ve had.

Most of all, it’s about immersing yourself in the party so that everyone, employees and patrons alike, has the best time possible.

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More of this topic: Management & Operations