TECH CO. FINDING PATRONS ‘HAPPY’ AT PUBS

In Marketing by Clyde Mooney

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A Melbourne company is harnessing the power of technology to keep pub patrons engaged with the age-old notion of Happy Hour.

Beginning as a website, The Happiest Hour (THH) was started by Chris Canty when his favourite pub stopped serving $5 jugs. After ticking along for seven years, it grew into a viable business model with the advent of the App.

Five years ago the THH App was launched to a smart-phone hungry market, and around 18 months ago the enterprise was ramped up as financial analyst Joonas Karppinen joined the company.

The THH App has now seen nearly 100,000 downloads, with currently over 500 new downloads each week, a new iOS version, and a growing list of nearly 2,000 venues participating nationally.

The Happiest Hour is based on the tradition of venues offering discounts and specials to attract patrons during quieter periods, using a range of technology options including geo-targeting and social media to notify or answer patron queries on ‘Happy Hours’ nearby.

Like a number of broad-based software innovations, it offers basic free listings for any pub or restaurant that would like to be involved, with additional paid options for greater functionality and dedicated tools for operators to market themselves.

This had led to take-up of a new venue every day on average, and two venue specials. The App currently lists 3,790 specials.

Karppinen told PubTIC the burgeoning company is striving to harness trends in technology and social media to hook consumer interests.

“We’re adding key features that make the App a more personalised experience, between app users and their favourite pubs,” said Karppinen.

“We recently added a ‘Favourites’ feature that allows users to stay up to date with their favourite pub’s specials with one click of a button. We’re also looking into sending push notifications to users whenever specials at one of their ‘favourite’ pubs change.

“Ultimately, we want both App users and pub managers/licensees to love our App.”

THH began the paid options late last year as part of its ongoing operation, and reports 90 per cent retention of Premium clients. It maintains constant correspondence with venues, monitoring promotion updates and point of contact.

Free listings are designed so that pubs can display their specials, and people searching in that area can find them.

The proactive Silver, Gold and Platinum plans offer increasing levels of functionality, starting with increasing social media presence and promoting specific specials, through to sophisticated brand marketing and high-profile positions on THH’s high-volume website.

Professional plans utilise the growing phenomenon of Facebook ad ‘boosting’ that allows precise targeting according to both location and users’ personal preferences, such as burgers or cocktails.

“Our ultimate vision is to connect people with the best food and drink specials nearby – whether it be in pubs, restaurants, or cafes,” says Karppinen.

L-R: The Happiest Hour's_Karl Kopp, Chris Canty and Joonas Karppinen

L-R: The Happiest Hour’s_Karl Kopp, Chris Canty and Joonas Karppinen at UPG’s Munich Brauhaus