ONCE an added luxury aimed at business people, wi-fi is now a staple service for many pubs.
Indeed, for Ken McGown, operations director at leasing firm Scottish & Newcastle Pub Company, it’s now “critical for pubs” to offer the facility.
“People everywhere use wi-fi, especially near transport hubs, colleges and offices,” he said. “After all, they [pubs] are competing for the leisure pound with retailers, bars and coffee shops, all of whom are reaping the benefits of offering wi-fi.”
The association of pubs and wi-fi is such that it’s become the most popular of S&NPC’s Bar Booster options – which allow lessees to offer a range of services to their customers, from takeaway pizzas to dry cleaning.
McGown said publicans can make the most of free wi-fi access with coffee and snacks, as the bulk of wi-fi usage occurs during the day. “It also attracts new customers, bringing with it incremental income. 71% of wi-fi users in McDonald’s, for example, say they spend more because wi-fi keeps them in the outlet longer.”
In order to meet demand S&NPC has linked up with to wi-fi provider the Cloud, which means its lessees can subscribe to the service for £1 a day.
The Cloud was bought by BSkyB at the beginning of the year and the broadcaster now offers the service to its existing pub customers and non-customers alike. Ian Holden, managing director of Sky Business, described the service as “the biggest and most exciting product launch since Sky 3D” and the company has been promoting it accordingly. “We offer pubs free point of sale material, which includes window stickers, posters, table talkers and bar signs to let their customers know they have the service,” a Sky spokeswoman said.
And having a wireless network managed externally has another advantage. Offering wi-fi does require that the publican abides by certain rules and regulations – rules that might not be covered if the publican chooses to set the network up by themselves.
“Many pubs can provide wi-fi access via a home network already set up in the flat above or a neighbouring property but this ‘DIY’ access could breach data protection laws,” McGown explained. “Licensees are required to store personal information from customers using the free wi-fi service provided on their premises. Not doing so would leave a licensee liable to prosecution for any illegal downloading done on their premises. “The Cloud, however, manages legal compliance on behalf of our lessees.”