HOW TO… run a successful Pub Quiz

Who doesn’t love a pub quiz? It’s become one of the nation’s favourite pub experiences, appealing to pubgoers young and old, who enjoy pitting their wits over a beer or two. For most, it’s a bit of light-hearted fun, but there’s also a sizeable contingent of serious quizzers who’ve accumulated a wealth of knowledge and are out to win! The successful quiz host will make sure the evening satisfies both groups and leaves them wanting more!

Quiz Night at The King & Queen, Caterham
By Ros Shiel, Director, ShielPorter Communications

08 May 2022

PubAid has put together the tips below - with thanks to the pub companies and licensees, especially Fuller's, who have contributed.

Which night is best?

Many pubs put their quiz early in the week, to entice people out of the house on a quiet night. On the other hand, running it on a busy night could make it more fun, meaning more customers return the following week. Also to factor in are whether other pubs in your area have a regular quiz. There’s no right or wrong of course, and only you will know what’s going to work best in your pub. Once you’ve settled on your night though, try and stick to it so customers know they can bowl up every Tuesday.

What sort of questions should we ask?

It all depends on what your customers want. For many, a traditional General Knowledge quiz with rounds on history, music and sport is perfect - with a picture round, of course. If you have a broad age range of quizzers, make sure the questions reflect that and enlist some younger bar staff to set or check them. And while it’s good to have some consistency, don’t let your quiz become stale - mix it up now and again with a round relating to something topical such as a sporting event or a landmark like the Platinum Jubilee.

Pen and paper, or digital?

Again, this is down to your pub’s demographic. Traditional pen and paper is still popular and the best option if your customers are older and less familiar with quiz apps. On the other hand, printing off question sheets takes time and costs money. Quiz apps are easy to download, all you need is good wifi, and some of the platforms offer features like live leader boards which make the quiz more interactive and engaging.

Who’s the Quizmaster?

You’re a great landlord or landlady with all the skills needed to run a pub. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll make a great quizmaster! Could someone else do the job better? An extravert team member or a popular regular? Make sure you choose someone with a clear voice and an ability to deal with question disputes!

What’s involved in running a quiz?

It really depends on how you want to run it. Some licensees love coming up with questions themselves, but if not there are plenty of ready-written quizzes you can use. As a basic, make sure that the quizmaster has read the questions beforehand to master any tricky pronunciations, and that the microphone is working!

How do I promote the quiz?

Use every channel you can to get people in for your quiz: an A-board or banner outside the pub, posters or chalkboards inside, an email to your database, social media. And don’t forget word of mouth, mention it to your customers and make sure your staff team do the same. It might take a while for people to get to know you run a quiz on a particular night, so stick with it!

How much should I charge?

Customers won’t pay a lot for a pub quiz, so just try and cover your costs – including prizes for the winners - with a small fee to play. That way you’ll get more people through the doors and that means more money spent on food and drink. If it’s a charity quiz, people will be prepared to pay a bit more to support a worthy cause. During the evening, maximise opportunities for customers to spend: a picture round before the rest of the questions, a break between rounds and before the winners are announced. Or offer a quiz ‘package’ including entry fee in with some drinks or food.

What prizes do we need to give?

For many people, it’s about the honour of winning rather than a prize, but you should still reward their success. A bar tab or gift voucher is usually sufficient, and it keeps the prize in-house. If it’s for a charity, the winners might choose to donate their winnings.


Fuller’s pub The King & Queen in Caterham, Surrey (pictured above), regularly attracts 60 people to its Thursday night Quiz.

Manager Kathy says: “I know a lot of pubs run quizzes on quieter nights, but we’ve always held it on Thursdays. The upside is that people are more relaxed, winding down for the weekend, so they probably spend more at the bar than they would earlier in the week.”

Kathy writes and reads out the quiz questions herself: “We tried outsourcing it once, but there were too many questions about TV reality shows and influencers! Most of our quizzers are over 50, so it didn’t go down well. You really have to pitch it right for your audience.”

The King & Queen quiz runs for about 2 hours, including breaks for trips to the bar. Kathy says: “We have three rounds of questions, plus a picture round that we mark separately. It’s about being inclusive, some people don’t do well on the questions, but win on the pictures.”

On prizes, the King & Queen changed its approach last year. “We used to divvy out the pot to the winning teams, but now, we’ve created a quiz league that runs for 12 weeks and at the end of it, the winning team chooses which charity we donate the proceeds to.  The winner and the runner up get bar tabs, but the bulk goes to a worthy cause and in the last year we’ve donated £4,000+. Nobody has complained – they’re here for the fun of it, and having a league has encouraged teams to come every week, as they want to win it.”

Finally, Kathy adds: “Don’t take your quiz too seriously! I’m dyslexic and mispronounce a few words, so my quizzers have to deal with that, and we’ve turned it into a bit of a running joke! Most people see a quiz night as a chance to have a laugh, a couple of drinks, and if they do well with the questions, that’s a bonus!”

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