Turn Trivia into Weekend Gold

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Mike Alevras of the DJ Solution has been producing trivia nights for years. The Hopewell Junction, N.Y.-based jock has found that they’re useful beyond just filling weeknights, however. Rather, they’ve been a rich source of referrals for his DJ business.

Alevras spoke at the DJ Expo in Atlantic City, N.J., this Aug. 15 about how to turn weeknight trivia events into profitable weekend revenue. We asked him some questions in advance of the seminar:


How did you start leveraging trivia to get bigger events?

You start by getting to know your trivia audience. You spend time every week to chat with them and start to build a relationship. This helps foster confidence in you as a trivia host and entertainer.

You also use trivia as a showcase for your talents as an MC. I always explain to potential clients that “yes, it is true you are not seeing me perform a wedding or mitzvah… but you are going to see my personality, how I prepare a successful trivia event and how I work a crowd.”

What do I need to do to get started?

Simple: you need a speaker, wireless mic, some kind of music playback (control deck, CDs, laptop, tablet) and, of course, questions. You also need an outgoing personality.

What’s the secret? Knocking ’em dead at the trivia event to get referrals?

The secret is to be prepared. Your trivia show should be a performance without looking scripted. You should be ready to inject humor—especially at yourself. When your trivia players applaud at the completion of a trivia night—you are on to something that makes the evening an event. And guests will remember that for their weddings, mitzvahs and corporate events.

Are trivia referrals more solid than others?

They certainly are. We invest time in producing a fun trivia show. We spend time getting to know our trivia guests and cultivating them to become regulars. This turns them into future clients that don’t ask us how much we charge for a wedding; rather, they ask how much they need to give us to hold the date. When it comes time for the contract, they never have sticker shock. They are excited to have us at their event.

You say that you can also use trivia as a showcase for your talents as an MC. What are the similarities? 

At a wedding showcase, you would feature your MCing skills, your intros and such. When we run a trivia night we are constantly on a microphone. We don’t just ask questions; we perform. We have intros, make announcements, obviously ask questions and are interacting with the crowd.

How do you prepare a successful trivia event? 

It starts with writing our own questions. This helps with muscle memory and a smooth presentation. Trivia is never hosted sitting down. We move around and engage the crowd. We design questions that are purposely written to create humor and fun. We have additional games and activities that can be done without a dancefloor to add additional fun and interaction. We also are prepared with prizes that will keep people coming back. This is done through corporate sponsorships and through our venues.

What are two tips to working a trivia crowd?

Know how to make fun of yourself and the trivia teams without being mean-spirited. There is a fine line and you need to hone your craft to do this well. Also, write questions designed to elicit a funny answer. This injects humor into the game.

Can you give us an example of writing a question to elicit a funny answer?

Sure: “According to studies, one in three men do what while driving a car?” This question can get a lot of funny, even made-up answers. But it does have a real answer: One in three pick their nose while driving. There is nothing better than humor and laughter during a night out.

When did you start doing trivia and when did you realize it could be leveraged to make money?

We started in January, 2011. I realized they could be leveraged very quickly. Within the first three weeks of trivia, I had a client ask at the end of a meeting if there was a way to see me perform at a wedding. I politely told her that she could not attend or “look in” on someone else’s private event. And I give them the usual reasons: We wouldn’t do that to their wedding, it is frowned upon by the venue. I am there for that particular bride and groom.

But… you can come see me in person at a trivia event. I explain they will hear me on a mic, get a feel for my personality, see how prepared we are and how much fun we and the guests have. I explain to the potential client to imagine what we can do for your wedding. When the client came to trivia they were planning on only staying for 30 minutes. They ended up staying the whole night and, as they left, the client said, “I know you do not have the contract with you now, but here is a check for the down payment. Send me the contract ASAP.” Right then, I knew what I could do with trivia events.

What percentage of your gigs are generated through trivia?

About 15- to 20-percent now can be connected to trivia—either directly as clients cultivated from the trivia guests or from clients cultivated elsewhere that come to see us perform and then close on the booking.

You say to be prepared. How?

For anything. Knowing that your questions and answers are accurate; how to spot cheating and how to eliminate it without starting any trouble; how to tease the teams without insulting them; how to encourage new guests to participate and understanding your venue’s needs and how to keep them happy.