Ideas for increasing player spending at a Pub Quiz?
November 8, 2018 11:48 AM   Subscribe

What bells and whistles can I add to a standard Pub Quiz format to encourage the players to spend more money?

I host a well-attended weekly Pub Quiz event which attracts a crowd of regulars and first-time players. The current format is simple: Players can form teams of any size and put £1 per player into the pot. The quiz has 40 questions spread across 8 categories and each team can pre-select their favourite of the week’s categories and receive 2x points in that category OR 3x points if they select the week’s Mystery category. With a maximum possible score of 50 points, I notice the weekly scores tend to range pretty evenly from 25-45.

After the quiz, the winning team can choose between a 50/50 gamble (cutting cards) if they want a chance at the cash pot, or they can take a gift voucher from the pub which is worth £40. Each week that the cash pot isn’t won it rolls over to the next week and the pot grows until it’s won.

I think the average player can spare more than £1 and I would like to get more of their money, either to increase the size of the pots or to increase my own take-home earnings from the quiz.

I’ve thought about “selling” hints or offering an increased score multiplier based on a number of £s contributed but I’m eager to read some other ideas or some thoughts on how specifically to implement a new feature. For example, might it be better to give teams the option to buy a hint or two before the quiz begins or at any point during the quiz? Can I, as the host of the quiz, frame this additional spending as a way to tip/support me personally or would creating larger pots be a greater motivator?

I understand that any system that gives an advantage based on spending could be considered unfair but I genuinely believe that most of my quiz-takers would appreciate the added competitive wrinkle.

I know it’s mercenary to look for ways to take peoples’ money, but it’s only a pound or two and frankly right now I’m the sucker — I do all the work and don’t earn much in a room where lots of money is being spent. Thanks in advance for any notions you have!
posted by chudmonkey to Grab Bag (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Selling hints feels off to me. It'd be like saying "give us a couple of quid and you can use your phone."

An optional harder bonus question at the end of each round that costs, I dunno, 50p per team and gets 2 points?

You could get creative with it and leave the answers to the bonus questions till the end, which means that teams won't know exactly what their position is. Or it might be better to answer them at the end of each round so teams are encouraged to stick money in the kitty to catch up.

Maybe have them link up in a theme that earns even more points or a standalone prize if it's guessed, except you only get to guess the theme if you've bought all 8 bonuses?

But it's a pub quiz, and you don't want the rules to be too complicated.
posted by holgate at 12:04 PM on November 8, 2018 [4 favorites]

  • Pay to take points, answers, hints or chances away from another team
  • Sell t-shirts, hats, pins, stickers
  • Sell raffle tickets for hooch or other pub-related prizes

posted by chesty_a_arthur at 12:07 PM on November 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

As a player, any pub quiz I went to that had selling hints as a thing would be one I'd feel really sour on ever attending again. I don't mean this to be mean but just realistic on how it'd make me feel. The bonus questions idea from holgate above feels much more player-friendly.
posted by augustimagination at 12:10 PM on November 8, 2018 [35 favorites]

Charge £2?

Around here, paying for "mulligans" is normal. Like a table is $20 for up to 8 people for 8 or 10 rounds of 10 question trivia. For $10 more, your table can have 5 stickers that you can use as right answers, limit 1 per round, on any question you want. Some places you have to buy these before everything starts. Other places wait till the first hard question and then announce that this is your last change to buy them.

We also see a lot of 50/50 raffles ($1 a ticket, winner gets half of the total take - you get the other half), or head/tails where you pay $1, put your hand on your head to guess heads, hand on your rear to guess tails, and keep flipping a coin until there is only one person left who gets half the take (and again, you get the other half).
posted by cmm at 12:11 PM on November 8, 2018 [9 favorites]

I used to play pubquiz in the States, and I believe our buy-in was $3 per person, which was still quite fair. You could probably double the cost to 2 pounds and still get similar amounts of people playing.

If you double the cost to 2 pounds, can you keep 25p of each for yourself?

Is the bar paying you for your time? You're bringing in customers to them.

If doubling the cost seems like too far of a jump, you could figure out a punchcard system for players. Buy a card for $X and get Y games.

I don't know if it would go over in Britain, but our quizmasters usually have a tip jar out, and ask for tips. I'd usually give a few dollars per group. But tipping everyone is more part of our culture.

I don't like the idea of selling hints - it just feels like too much.

You can keep a tally of weekly points and have an invitation-only tournament where the top 3 teams compete, and their buy-in to play is much more.
posted by hydra77 at 12:11 PM on November 8, 2018 [5 favorites]

A popular thing at trivia nights here is to sell mulligans — usually they're small stickers that you can put in the answer blank to earn the point without giving an answer. There are restrictions as to how many you can buy, and how many you can use (often the limit is 1 per round).
posted by brentajones at 12:11 PM on November 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm a quizmaster for a large pub quiz company here in the US, and we operate solely by having the bar pay for the privilege of hosting (and for the benefit of having vastly more customers than they otherwise would on a slow weeknight). Free for contestants (though the prizes are only bar gift cards).
posted by Rock Steady at 12:23 PM on November 8, 2018 [4 favorites]

£1 is really cheap, double it to £2 at least.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:48 PM on November 8, 2018 [7 favorites]

I've been to some that sell "Mulligans" for a few bucks each that you can use to get point for any answer for any one question. Also you can sell each team a "power-up" that they could use to double their score for what they feel is their strongest category.
posted by cross_impact at 12:54 PM on November 8, 2018

I used to play trivia, and I probably wouldn't go back if they started selling hints or letting people pay for answers in any way. I agree with increasing the overall cost. It sounds like you could easily double it. I just can't think of any way to get some players to spend more money that wouldn't just seem to spoil the spirit of the thing.

Where I played, all of the money players put in went to prizes, and the bar paid the quizmaster for bringing people in.
posted by FencingGal at 12:56 PM on November 8, 2018

At a trivia night I used to go to, the host had "quarter questions" in between rounds. They were mostly kind of stupid questions, like "What percent of men like breakfast cereal more than pancakes?", or "82% of seniors think that THIS is a terrible idea".

You pay 25 cents to guess. The prize was half the pot, I think, and the one winner got a bonus point for their team.

They were EXTREMELY popular. People LOVED to guess, and since there are a kajillion possible equally-likely answers, the host pulled in a ton of money with them.
posted by MangoNews at 1:05 PM on November 8, 2018 [19 favorites]

Do you have a tip jar?

You could work with the beer and liquor distributors Okay, this round is sponsored by Sea Slug Brewing and in addition to points, the winning team will get Sea Slug Swag. Before we go to the next question, LocallPub has a special on nachos if you order now. If there's an increase in business, ask LocalPub to pay you, give you food/drink vouchers or any other compensation.

Are you getting half the entry money? If not, you should. And it may be time to increase the entry fee.
posted by theora55 at 1:19 PM on November 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

Perhaps escalating the pay-in by team size: first player on a team pays £1, next two players pay £2 each, next three pay £3 each, or some such system. This has the added benefit of boosting the pay-in vs. pay-out odds for smaller teams — I know I'm always a little annoyed when I'm playing pub trivia on a team of three or four and a team with a dozen players is crushing everybody.
posted by letourneau at 1:22 PM on November 8, 2018 [7 favorites]

Nthing mulligans, or basically being able to pay to "cheat." Our library did a grown-up spelling bee a couple of times as a fundraiser and got an entertaining amount of money by allowing randos from the audience to "bribe the queen bee" to look the other way if a team got a word wrong. (A team could only have three bribes for the course of the whole tournament, could not use the bribe when it was down to the last two teams, and the price of the bribe went up with each use.)
posted by The demon that lives in the air at 1:26 PM on November 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

I don't think you can do cheats unless it's a charity event, really. Self-funding bonus rounds are the way to go, preferably either basically random or involving skills or knowledge that the teams who do badly in the main quiz will be able to win at. Any element of luck will enable you to justify offering multiple entries. MangoNews's suggestion is excellent, I think.

Also, yeah, increase the price. I used to pay a quid to enter pub quizzes 20 years ago. Inflation happens!
posted by howfar at 2:06 PM on November 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

Wow. This quiz already sounds pretty complicated. Just charge more. £2 per person feels about right. Or charge £10 entry and include two free pints. Or charge the pub £50. Or whatever.

Absolutely don't charge players for anything that makes it more likely that they win (extra lives, hints, etc.). That's something crappy phone games do. It's not how pub quizzes work.
posted by caek at 2:22 PM on November 8, 2018 [4 favorites]

Why not have a two drink minimum for quiz night?
posted by ActingTheGoat at 2:25 PM on November 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

If you want people to go for the 50/50 cash chance, you have to have 60-80 in the pot for it to make sense over a guarantee of 40. which is 60-80 people, which sounds like a lot. Divide 80 by how many people would normally play and that's the buy in if it all goes in the pot, I'm guessing somewhere around 4 per person if youve got 20 people.

Pub trivia near me has no buy in, just gift cards from the bar, and it's a promotion to get people to come in & buy drinks on an off night when it's normally be less crowded. Pub runs trivia themselves or pays the quiz master.
posted by TheAdamist at 2:36 PM on November 8, 2018 [3 favorites]

"Perhaps escalating the pay-in by team size: first player on a team pays £1, next two players pay £2 each, next three pay £3 each, or some such system. "

Yes, since a bigger team is such a big advantage, there should be some kind of tiers ... I don't know how big your teams get, but I'd do like the first three players are £1 each, the next two are £2 each, the next five are £3 each, and if you want more than ten players you're talking £5 each above ten!

Whatever a "normal" team is (4 people?) should be your first tier, and then bigger teams can pay more!

Another option would be to say "£5 for a team of up to 4, £2 for each player beyond that." -- there's a flat buy-in to be a team, and if you want to go above the "normal" team size, you pay for the privilege. This has the advantage that if a team of 10 splits into two, you get £7 from each team for £14, instead of £17 for the team of ten ... not quite as much but the "base team fee" works out better for you than them just breaking into small enough teams to avoid the "tax" on higher numbers in the tier plan.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:53 PM on November 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

In the past I've participated in charity trivia where one could buy answers, and on several occasions the outcome was decided by who bought the most answers. I gritted my teeth because it was for charity, but I absolutely wouldn't keep coming back for that at pub trivia.

The pub trivia I sometimes attend has a round of "heads and tails" in the middle. Just in case this is an Australianism, there's a description here. At the trivia I attend this is free to participate in, but you could get everyone to pay to enter and then have the prize be a bar voucher or similar.
posted by Cheese Monster at 8:50 PM on November 8, 2018

My favourite local pub quiz runs a side game called card bingo. Quiz patrons pay £1 per pack for five random cards from a standard deck, and you can buy as many as you like. The landlady shuffles a deck of cards, then calls them out in turn. The first person to have all five of the cards in their pack called shouts bingo and wins a small prize.

It's the highlight of the night. Also they give each team a free plate of chips at half time, which is very much appreciated.
posted by terretu at 10:04 AM on November 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

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