Operators who don’t do digital could miss out on the next generation of drinkers
PUB operators must embrace digital technology or risk losing out on younger customers in years to come.
That was the conclusion of the ‘Pub of the Future’ report by Casio, which said consumers currently aged between 16 and 24 expect pubs of the future to increasingly utilise digital technology.
According to the study, developed in partnership with the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) and pubco Punch Taverns, many operators have not fully engaged with the digital revolution.
The report claims three quarters of UK pubs do not provide customer loyalty schemes, 78% do not offer individually tailored discounts, 91% do not offer personalised digital marketing communications, and over two thirds (67%) do not offer their customers wi-fi.
It advised licensees to get to grips with technology and social media to avoid losing the pub customers of the future, claiming 15% of those currently in the 16 to 24 age group say pubs need to “understand their customers better”.
Operators contacted by SLTN agreed that technology and social media is playing an increasingly important role in the licensed trade.
Gerry Tartaglia, manager at Maggie Mays in Glasgow’s Merchant City, said the bar has moved away from more traditional methods of reaching out to customers.
“Physical PR is dying,” he told SLTN.
“We don’t even do it anymore. It’s all social media now, that’s massive for us.
“Every day I go on Facebook, Twitter and the app. It’s all free so it’s a big saving.”
The Maggie Mays app, created by Connect 5 Media, is available free on both Apple and Android smartphone devices and allows customers to book tables, view the venue’s events calendar, connect with it via social media and receive promotional deals.
Physical PR is dying, we don’t even do it anymore. It’s all social media now, that’s massive for us.
Tartaglia also highlighted the importance of offering wi-fi to customers, but stressed that this wasn’t only expected by younger consumers.
”We’ve had free internet since day one,” he added.
“We get office folk using it and younger folk using it.”
Digital technology and social media have also become an increasingly important focus for pubco Star Pubs & Bars.
“Today’s customers expect to be able to go online in social spaces; the pub is a key social space,” said Chris Moore, property and strategy director at Star Pubs & Bars.
“It’s not just the young but customers of all ages who want to go online and it is very important that pubs cater for this need.
“We believe installing wi-fi, digital jukeboxes and other digital technology does attract young adults to venues, but also a wider audience.
“All customers are looking to enrich their entertainment experience, which these technologies do.”
Moore also stressed the importance of digital communication for operators looking to communicate with consumers.
“It is critically important for operators to engage with customers through online channels,” added Moore.
“Social media is fast becoming the primary method to tailor and communicate effectively with customers.”
Franceska Brown, head of new business at karaoke provider Lucky Voice, pointed to wi-fi as the driving force behind the changing place of technology in the pubs.
“Wireless internet in pubs is driving all the latest technology – jukeboxes with Spotify compatibility, for instance, which allow customers to access their own music library in the venue,” she said.
“This is a really exciting proposition – it makes customers feel at home in any site and promotes conversation – two important aspects for any pub wanting to develop their trade.”
Kate Nicholls, strategic affairs director at the ALMR, said operators looking to future-proof their business must consider the needs and expectations of 16 to 24 year olds.
“It’s clear that young people use social media to inform their going out behaviour – and these customers have remained resilient and have gone out to eat and drink throughout the recession,” she said.
“Put simply, outlets who ignore these findings and do not build relevant digital marketing into their commercial planning will not only be missing a trick, they will be missing customers.”