With more competition for the leisure pound than ever before, the ability to offer customers something they can’t find anywhere else has become the holy grail for licensed premises.
While the importance of factors such as quality food and drink can’t be overstated, there are other options open to licensees who want to set their premises apart.
A number of firms specialising in technology and entertainment for pubs have argued that a strong entertainment offer in a venue can help to set it apart from local competition as well as increase revenues.
“You can extend the shoulder months and create an all-year-round business that builds your brand and generates substantial additional revenue in food, drink and accommodation,” said music promoter David Mundell of Mundell Music.
But creating any entertainment offer isn’t a “quick-fix”, said Mundell.
He advised licensees to think carefully about the entertainment offer they are considering, and even recommended speaking to other pub and bar operators with established entertainment offers for advice.
“They need to evaluate exactly what they are trying to do then visit and talk to some operators who have actually made a name for themselves within this field and then put together a sensible business plan based around their entertainment programme,” said Mundell.
You can create an all-year-round business that builds your brand and generates revenue.
With a music offer, in particular, establishing the right ambience for the venue – at the right time – is essential, according to Andy Hill, chief executive of music and quiz technology firm Startle.
“The style, tempo and volume of music allows customers to develop an immediate perception of the venue and can be a deciding factor in whether they stay for a long period of time, or even return in the future,” said Hill.
“Therefore, it is crucial that a venue’s music choice captivates its customers.”
He also advised licensees to tweak any music offer they might put in place at various times throughout the day, with quieter background music helping customers relax during the afternoon and louder, more up-tempo tunes creating a livelier atmosphere in the evening.
“Being aware of the audience, and adapting the music offering accordingly is also an effective way to entertain consumers, increase engagement in the venue, boost sales, and inspire repeat visits,” said Hill.
“The ultimate aim of technology in the hospitality industry is to create an unforgettable experience for customers, while increasing dwell time, encouraging spend and ensuring customers repeat their visit.”
An out of date listing suggests you don’t take this part of the business seriously.
The importance of technology in delivering a quality entertainment offer was also stressed by Richard Konig of AudioZone, a firm specialising in beaming audio directly to customers’ earphones via their smartphone, removing the need for loud speakers in a venue and ensuring that several audio feeds can be broadcast within the same venue (if, for example, several matches or programmes are being shown simultaneously).
Konig said that, when live sport is the focus of an entertainment offer, quality HD TVs and/or projectors can make all the difference to the customer experience.
These should also be positioned in such a way that provides every customer in the venue a clear view of the action, said Konig.
Technology isn’t just about delivering the entertainment itself, however.
Tech such as social media can also be crucial to getting the word out to a venue’s customers of what will be happening, said Konig.
He advised licensees to consider using a digital service such as Matchpint – an online pub-finder tool that tells consumers which local venues are screening particular sporting events – as well as making use of mainstream social media channels to market any entertainment offer.
“These apps are sophisticated marketing tools, are easy to use and are generally very good value,” said Konig. “If you have gone to the trouble of setting up a dedicated web page, Facebook page or Twitter feed highlighting your sports offer, ensure that your online sports listings are up to date.
“An out of date listing suggests that you don’t take this part of the business seriously and it’s likely to discourage people to arrange to meet at your site.
“Equally, advertising an event and then not showing it is something that will live long in the memory of the disappointed customers.”
Mundell also stressed the importance of technology in marketing an entertainment offer.
“Once an operator has decided to generate an entertainment programme they need to create their database and use an email marketing platform to market from,” he said.