AS I write, the Olympic torch is slowly making its way around the UK – a journey that will see it come within ten miles of 95% of the population over a 70-day period.
Heads will be sore in Edinburgh and London following the wild celebrations that greeted famous cup wins for Hearts and Chelsea.
On the face of it, the Olympic countdown, the Scottish Cup and the Champions League finals have nothing in common.
But what unites them this year, alongside the forthcoming European Championships in Poland and Ukraine, is that they form a ‘summer of sport’ that could well mean the difference between a great season and an average one for pubs across the country.
Throw in next month’s Diamond Jubilee and there’s a further event to leverage for commercial advantage, for some venues at least.
Of course, it is not enough to merely be open during such events.
As operators and brand owners have been emphasising to SLTN in recent weeks, the trick is to make your venue the place to be to catch the action, whether it’s for Europe’s best football teams matching up in Warsaw and Kiev, or Usain Bolt burning up the track in London’s Olympic Stadium.
There’s nothing quite like watching football in the pub.
Let people know you’re serious about sport and they will come – that appears to be the message.
Hoist the flags, pick a team to follow or run Olympics quizzes – use any hook you can to ensure your place is front of mind for people deciding where to watch the big events.
That said, not everyone is convinced the summer of sport will amount to much for pubs, notably because both the Olympics and the Euros will be on terrestrial television.
There is no doubt many consumers will prefer to enjoy these occasions at home, either in living rooms or in back gardens if weather permits, meaning it’s the off-trade which stands to benefit most from the sales opportunity.
History shows that World Cups and European Championships have been better for beer in the off-trade than pubs. Wine suppliers have also expressed similar views in recent weeks.
But, in my opinion, that shouldn’t stop operators from getting behind such big events.
It needn’t cost that much to buy in some bunting, organise some theme nights and market the events on social media websites, so why not give it a punt?
As Euan Venters, boss of brewing and brands at Belhaven, told SLTN last week, there’s nothing quite like watching the football in the pub and I agree – short of being at the game, there’s no better way to enjoy it.
So dust down the screens, unfurl the flags and buy in the half-time pies, you know it makes sense!