What Is a Trivia Night?

A trivia night is a promotional event held at a bar or restaurant where guests form teams and compete against each other for prizes. Also referred to as a pub quiz, these live restaurant events are a creative way to attract new customers. They also create an interactive experience at your bar, encouraging cooperation and friendly competition. In this blog, we’ll investigate trivia night rules, trivia themes, and how to host your own trivia event.

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Trivia Night Themes

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While general trivia has the broadest appeal, a themed trivia night allows you to attract different guests and tackle more specific topics. Consider hosting themed trivia nights periodically, mixing them in with your general trivia schedule. Below, we’ve listed some common trivia themes to choose from:

  • Decade-themed trivia: Invoke a sense of nostalgia by asking questions specific to the '70s, '80s, '90s, and more. To heighten the experience, play music specific to the era or decorate your bar to match the theme.
  • Pop culture trivia: Quiz your guests on popular music, movies, news stories, and more in pop culture trivia.
  • Sports trivia: Attract local sports fans by hosting sports-themed trivia events. You can focus on a specific sport or ask general sports questions. Sports-themed trivia is an excellent idea to hold in the lead-up to the big game.
  • Franchise trivia: Ask your guests questions about popular entertainment franchises like Star Wars, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and more. To enhance the experience, consider featuring drinks or meals inspired by the franchise on your menu.

How to Host a Trivia Night

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Hosting a trivia night can be fun for everyone involved, but there are several details one must take into account to organize the event the right way. Below, we’ve created a list of steps to help you host a successful trivia night:

1. Find a Host

The host is the person who keeps your event on track. They are responsible for presenting each question, grading answer sheets, and enforcing the rules. The host is also responsible for distributing prizes to winners at the end of the night. When it comes to choosing a host, there are three options available to you:

  • Hire a host: While hiring a professional MC may be the most costly option, it helps to bring a sense of legitimacy to your event. In many cases, the host you hire will bring their own sound system.
  • Partner with a trivia organization: Some businesses specialize in hosting trivia at local restaurants. You can partner with these organizations and allow them to use your business as a venue. The organization will likely provide its own host and supplies.
  • Choose a host from your staff: If you don’t want to hire a host from outside of your organization, consider choosing a staff member to host the event. Ask your employees if they would like to volunteer to host before making this decision. If nobody shows interest, you can host the event yourself.

2. Generate Questions

The quality of your questions can make or break your trivia event. It’s important to strike a balance between easy and difficult questions, and your topics should range from popular to obscure. It’s easiest to browse the internet for trivia questions, but you can also come up with them on your own. It’s important to note that if you partner with a trivia organization, they will generate their own questions for the event.

To add variety to your event, you can assign different point values to each round. For example, every correct answer in the first round could be worth one point, and every correct answer in the next round could be worth two. You can also change the format of the game and play to other guests' strengths by including a picture round or a music round.

3. Invest in Trivia Equipment and Materials

To host a trivia night the right way, you’ll need to purchase the correct materials. Writing utensils and answer sheets for each team are essential, and it’s important to make sure you have extras on hand during the event. Depending on the size of your venue and your expected attendance, you may want to invest in sound equipment like a microphone or speakers. For added effect, consider purchasing a projector to display each question for the crowd.

4. Advertise the Event

The last step in hosting a trivia night is advertising. Since groups will need to coordinate their teams beforehand, it’s important to make sure they are aware of the event in advance. Below, we’ve listed some common examples of how to advertise your event:

  • Print advertising: Post flyers for the event throughout your workplace to notify guests of when your trivia night will be. If you plan on organizing recurring events, you can advertise them on a poster behind the front desk or at the host station.
  • Web advertising: Add information about your trivia night to your business’ website for easy access. Be sure to include your trivia schedule, any themed events you have planned, and the rules for the event. You can also highlight any food or drink specials you plan on offering that night.
  • Social media advertising: Mention your trivia night on social media to generate interest in the event. You can post the date and theme of the event leading up to the event, and even post pictures of the winning teams on your restaurant’s Instagram account once the event has concluded.

Trivia Night Rules

It's difficult for a game of trivia to function without a strong set of rules. They promote healthy competition and keep the event fair. Make sure that every team is aware of the rules beforehand to limit confusion during the game. While you’re free to set your own rules, we've listed some common examples of trivia rules below:

  • Team limits: To promote parity, consider having a limit to how many people can be on a team. A team with too many people typically has an advantage over smaller teams.
  • Cell phone use: Make sure that every contestant knows they are not allowed to use their cell phone to look up answers. This rule will rely on the honor system, though servers or other guests who notice cheating can alert the host if needed.
  • Changing answers: Let every team know that they cannot change their answers once a round is complete. This can be enforced by having the host collect answer sheets and grading them in between rounds.
  • Yelling out answers: Inform every contestant that they cannot yell out answers during the event. Discussion between team members is acceptable, but should not be loud enough that other teams can hear.
  • Tiebreakers: In the event of a tie, you'll need a way to determine a winner. This can range from something as simple as the number of bonus points a team earned to something more complex, like a speed round.

Trivia Night Prizes

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In most cases, prizes are awarded to the first, second, and third-place teams in a trivia competition. When it comes to hosting a trivia event at your restaurant or bar, the best prize is one that builds customer loyalty and encourages guests to return. We’ve listed some common examples of trivia prizes below:

  • Gift cards: Offering guests a gift card is an excellent way to ensure repeat customers. Upon their next visit, they’ll be able to redeem it for money off of the final bill. Some teams may even choose to save their gift cards and use them at a later date.
  • Coupons: Giving your guests coupons for reduced-price food or drinks is another great way to encourage repeat visits. You can offer coupons to each team member, allowing them to use them as they please.
  • Free food or drinks: Some restaurants choose to reward trivia winners with free food or drinks. This can either be given to guests before they leave or redeemed upon their next visit.

Trivia Night FAQ

If you've never organized a trivia event before, there are many details you may not be familiar with. In this section, we'll answer some of the internet's most common questions about hosting a trivia night.

How Long Does Trivia Night Last?

A typical trivia night lasts somewhere between 1-3 hours. The length of the event can vary depending on your theme, the number of questions you ask, and how many teams choose to enter the competition.

How Many Questions for a Trivia Night?

Most trivia events consist of somewhere between 40-100 questions. In general, a trivia game is somewhere between 4-8 rounds with 10-20 questions per round.

How Much to Charge for a Trivia Night?

If you plan on hosting a promotional trivia night, then your guests should not be charged for entry. However, if you are throwing a trivia night fundraiser it’s best to keep the price per person low. You can charge each participant or include a flat entry rate for each team. Most restaurants charge somewhere between $10-20 per person or $100-200 per team for fundraiser events.

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Whether you’re new to hosting trivia events or have been organizing them for years, try these tips to host a successful trivia night in your restaurant, bar, or pub. With enough planning, you can even become a trivia destination in your town.

By Jason Kurtz
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. Please refer to our Content Policy for more details.
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