IN a summer that’s seen some of the biggest names in football dumped out of tournaments by minnows coming on the back of Leicester City’s Cinderella season in the Premier League, expectations among fans will surely be running high ahead of 2016/17.
With this in mind, firms with a focus on live sport in the on-trade have offered some top tips on what publicans can do to take full advantage of a football season that promises much, from the return of regular Old Firm fixtures to the rebirth of Jose Mourinho at Manchester United.
Katerina Podtserkovskaya, head of Guinness activation in the on-trade at Diageo, said providing an excellent viewing experience is key to on-trade sports success.
“Research has found that fans want to see the game more than anything else – other elements are important but secondary to the viewing quality,” she said. “Making sure you have clear lines of sight to screens and keeping the paths to the bar clear is essential to keep viewing at its best.”
Podtserkovskaya suggested that a customer’s visual experience could have a big impact on match-day sales.
“Licensees need to provide a great experience for their customers,” said Podtserkovskaya.
“Make sure that there are plenty of screens, and they all are visible from a distance, the view is not obstructed and the service is smooth.”
Alison Dolan, deputy managing director of Sky Business, also reckons the viewing experience should be central to licensees’ live sports offer.
Dolan suggested operators with multiple screens implement a ‘zoning’ strategy to keep a variety of customers satisfied.
“By finding a separate area of the pub to put screens you can keep sports fans happy while allowing other customers to enjoy food or drink away from that area,” she said.
Getting screens in the right place may be essential but it isn’t a simple case of ‘plug and play’, Dolan suggested, as setup can also affect the quality of the customer experience.
“Make sure you have enough screens in place and turned on for the major sporting events,” said Dolan.
“Test your volume, can commentary be heard from all areas of the pub that has visibility of the screen? Can customers see screens from the bar? This may help encourage sales throughout the match, rather than a surge at half time.”
The right setup will go a long way to ensuring customers have an enjoyable viewing experience, but a perfectly positioned screen isn’t much use if the picture quality is poor.
Craig Straton of Sims Automatics said the best way to ensure an outlet makes the most of its sports offer is to “ensure their visual screening equipment is up to speed and offering the customer the next best thing to being at the game themselves”.
When both purchasing and positioning equipment, Straton also suggested operators consider the layout and dimensions of their venue.
“Take ceiling height into account, if the ceiling allows then think about projector screens, alternatively plasma screens can accommodate all different sizes within even the quirkiest of premises,” said Straton.
“Outside viewing is not common practice due to our climate, however there are options available as screens can be fitted to wheel-based stands etc thus allowing a multi-function option.”