As well as attracting regulars, major sporting events like the 6 Nations provide an opportunity to “encourage first time visitors back on future occasions”, according to Jim Grierson of Maxxium UK, the firm behind Ginger Grouse.
“The 6 Nations is the highlight of the domestic rugby union calendar and the match days can prove extremely beneficial to bars,” he said.
With the pull of the 6 Nations attracting more than just regulars to the pub, Adam Pickles of bar supply firm Kellyseye.com encouraged licensees to take the opportunity to show off the different aspects of their business.
“Make sure the busy time becomes a marketing opportunity by giving all your additional customers an experience to remember for all the right reasons,” he said.
“Food can be a great up-sell potential for lots of operators due to the kick-off and finishing times of the games being ideal eating times for customers.”
Marketing a venue and its offer before and during the 6 Nations tournament is key to bringing in a crowd, said David Scott, director of brands at Carlsberg UK.
And he highlighted social media as a way to advertise a venue as well as build a rapport with customers.
“A Tweet, Facebook message or email at lunchtime can have a significant effect on the success of your event,” said Scott.
“Try getting your customers involved; if you are showing the rugby then why not put up a Facebook message asking what they think the score is going to be? Or ask which pint they’re most looking forward to drinking during the match.
“That way you are reminding people of the event, building the anticipation and getting people to comment, which is also then shared with their friends and social followers.”
To make the most of busy match days, Christopher Wooff of Guinness highlighted ways to extend dwell time beyond the full-time whistle.
“Offering music and entertainment directly after the game are obvious ways to extend the occasion,” he said.
“Also think about your food offering and discounts for later on in the evening. Generally, sustaining the overall experience will encourage punters to stay for longer.”
Although all pubs could stand to benefit from the 6 Nations, Ian Risby of Wells & Young’s, the firm behind the McEwan’s brand, reminded publicans that identifying their audience is key.
“Setting up for the 6 Nations will very much depend on the type of outlet,” said Risby.
“Pubs which aren’t traditionally sporting venues can still make the most of the event, but should be aware not to isolate their existing customers who won’t want to enjoy a relaxing meal or drink in the midst of cheering, so we would advise creating separate areas wherever possible for diners and rugby spectators.”
For all venues looking to score points throughout the 6 Nations, getting the basics right is key, according to John Gilligan of Tennent Caledonian.
“Our advice to operators and licensees is to keep things simple over busy match weekends and plan ahead,” he said.
“It’s a good idea to anticipate an increase in footfall and ensure your cellar is well-stocked.
“Getting the basics right, too, is essential, such as clean glasses and lines so customers can enjoy their favourite pint, served perfectly, while watching the match.”