Keep it entertaining to pack your pub

A varied and relevant programme can pay dividends, suppliers say

• Karaoke, live bands and jukeboxes can all add to the atmosphere in a venue.

IN a competitive marketplace it’s arguably never been more important for operators to make their outlet stand out from others.

And a strong entertainment offer has been cited as one way for publicans to enhance the customer experience and steal a march on the competition.
Franceska Brown, head of business for karaoke firm Lucky Voice, told SLTN entertainment can be a big draw for operators.
“Quality entertainment draws footfall, which suggests to regulars and passers-by that the venue has something special to offer – that someone behind the scenes is investing time and effort to deliver something special,” she said.
“Footfall breeds more footfall, which generally means more money in the tills.”
Making the most of your entertainment options doesn’t need to stretch resources, according to Brown, who said a return to classic pub entertainment is currently proving popular with customers.
“There has been a resurgence in traditional pub activities like darts and quizzes as customers seek out that community vibe at their local,” she said.
Customers aren’t mind readers, however, and Brown stressed the importance of marketing any entertainment offer.
She highlighted current forms of marketing, such as social media, as being the best way to attract and retain business.
“Of our licensees, those who see the most traction from their marketing campaigns use social media along with more traditional in-venue advertising,” said Brown.
“A venue can never know its customers enough; understanding their behaviour and media consumption habits will dictate how best to reach them.”
Brown wasn’t the only entertainment specialist to extol the virtues of digital media.
Brian Harvey, managing director of specialist music supplier Open Ear, also pointed to digital marketing as a cost-effective option for operators.
“Today, social media has had a huge effect on the way licensees market their entertainment offering; enabling them to target a large number of people, in a cost effective way,” he said.

There has been a resurgence in traditional pub activities like darts.

Entertainment can do more than just bring customers through the door.
Chris Black, managing director of jukebox supplier Sound Leisure, said a strong entertainment offer can also encourage consumers to stay in licensed premises for longer.
“People who play on the machines, listen to music on the jukebox or take part in quizzes and bingo will stay longer in the venue and this means a greater profit for the site, not only from the machine revenue but also in wet sales,” said Black.
And allowing customers to select their own music via a jukebox can pay off for outlets, said Black.
“By letting customers choose from a huge but restricted catalogue of music and getting them to pay for it, you get the right music, customer interaction and revenue,” he added.
“It helps if licensees understand how the machines work and the features on them. In sites where the managers and staff know the machines well, we find this has a positive impact on profits.”
Laura Ferguson, of music licensing organisation PPL, agreed that recorded music has an important role to play in the on-trade.
“Music is hugely important for bars and clubs as it can contribute to the overall success of a venue,” she said.
“MusicWorks, our joint research initiative with PRS for Music, has shown that playing recorded music can also have financial and emotional benefits.”
Ferguson said music can “create the right atmosphere” in an outlet, as well as help to drive repeat business.
“All we ask is that any business using music is legally compliant by obtaining a PPL licence, ensuring that the performers and companies who create and invest in the recordings are paid fairly for their work,” she said.
Recorded music is not the only option for operators looking to create ambience in their outlet, however.
David Mundell of consultancy Mundell Music advised operators to consider booking live performers.
“Live music is more than just a duo playing guitars to backing tracks in a corner of the bar,” he said. “Different genres bring a different following, so keep the genres across the board and do not stay in one particular field.”

Live music is more than just a duo playing guitars to backing tracks in a corner.

For operators looking to go down the live performance route, getting the marketing right and making the right bookings is crucial, said Mundell.
“I believe that you have to specialise in a particular activity to make you stand out against your competitors and once you have made a decision to commit to an entertainment programme, stick with it,” he said.
“Creative, niche marketing is the key in this often widely misunderstood field of incorporating live music within a hotel or inn.”
Whatever the entertainment, it is vital that operators consider their timing, said Craig Straton of gaming and leisure equipment supplier Sims Automatics.
Straton advised venues to identify “key days of the week”, such as Champions League football matches, to avoid clashes.
“It is vitally important the entertainment profile is carefully tailored not to clash with certain times,” said Straton.