March 2010

10 Steps To Safely Selling Alcohol At Events



Having alcohol available at your event can be an important incentive for patrons when deciding whether to attend. Not only that, but It can also provide you with an additional income revenue stream. However, it can also be your worst nightmare unless your preparation for the sale or serving of alcohol is carefully thought out. These guidelines apply to both indoor and outdoor events.



Make a plan.

How many serving stations? Hours of operation? Beer and wine only, or a full bar? Cash or drink tickets? Alcohol-free zones, or better yet, a single alcohol-zone (such as a beer garden)? Rules for handling an obvious intoxicated person (we suggest you let the police handle).There's a lot that goes into the planning. Your liquor license will dictate some of these decisions.



Get a license.

Most jurisdictions require a license to sell/serve alcohol. Make sure you are legal. Start with your local police station or liquor control board for guidance.



Make sure you and all of your servers have alcohol management training.

There are organizations (TIP, TEAM, among others) that teach techniques on how to serve and sell alcohol responsibly. This includes training on how to recognize and handle potential intoxicated persons, proper procedures to check identification and techniques to effectively intervene and prevent drunk driving.

You could also consider hiring a caterer or other experienced third party to run your serving operations. In addition to getting trained servers, you can also transfer liability to them utilizing standard indemnification wording and requiring them to provide liquor liability insurance naming you as an additional insured.



Make sure your insurance covers you for the sale or serving of alcohol.

Most policies do not automatically provide coverage for alcohol operations. Talk to us when you are in your planning stage.



Step up your pre-event site inspection.

Although always a priority, finding and eliminating trip & fall hazards is especially important at events where alcohol is served. Statistics show these types of claims increase at events with alcohol.



Post signage in your serving area discouraging drinking and driving.

Encourage the use of designated drivers and other alternative transportation options such as taxicabs. Your liquor distributors are an excellent source of material and ideas. Remember, while your event may be a one time only affair, the distributor has done 1,000's of them. They have almost as big a stake in people getting home safely as you do.



Consider stationing a local uniformed police officer at the bar areas.

This tends to discourage patrons on their way to becoming intoxicated from trying to purchase additional drinks.



Avoid "Open Bars".

The average person tends to drink more when alcohol is flowing freely than they would normally. If you must have an open bar, limit its duration, serve smaller portions (half-shots and low alcohol beer), and plan on closing the bar at least an hour prior to the conclusion of your event.



Head them off at the pass.

It's hard enough preventing patrons from becoming intoxicated at your event. Make sure they aren't already intoxicated when they arrive! Intoxicated persons should be denied entry. Security should make certain patrons don't bring alcohol into the event (Confiscate the alcohol, don't allow patrons to bring it back to their cars). Events where tailgating is present should be especially cautious. Security guards and/or law enforcement officers should patrol the parking lots.



Consider having an alcohol-free event.

Not always a popular suggestion but one that dramatically reduces risk and usually results in a more family-friendly experience.