Ambience service

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The following article is brought to you by Coors Brewers.The first step to creating the right ambience is to understand what type of consumers you...

The following article is brought to you by Coors Brewers.

The first step to creating the right ambience is to understand what type of consumers you want to attract.

Many pub customers talk of the importance they attach to the ambience of the pubs they visit, and indeed the industry has long recognised that ambience is a critical factor in attracting customers to the pub. But what exactly is ambience and how can you improve or change the ambience of your outlet to attract your target audience?

The dictionary defines ambience as "the surrounding atmosphere characteristic of a particular place" (1). Coors Brewers research has shown that "atmosphere" is the reason most frequently given by customers for liking an outlet, it is therefore critical that the atmosphere you create is attractive to the type of consumers you want to attract to your outlet (2).

An outlet's ambience will be created from a wide variety of factors that can all be altered to a greater or lesser extent; decoration and furnishings, staff, customers, service standards, product range, music and entertainment, lighting etc.

The first step to creating the right ambience is to understand what type of consumers you want to attract. Do you want to attract more female consumers? Have you a busy high street location that needs to appeal to younger drinkers? Is your pub located in a city suburb and therefore does your outlet need to be attractive to customers who are looking for a quiet drink? Do you want to encourage family dining?

Once you have decided which type of consumers you want to attract it is now time to understand what is important to these target consumers and then how you can ensure that the ambience of your outlet is appropriate to this group. The simplest way to do this in a local market is to ask your target group! If you already have some customers from this group ask them why they are using your outlet. Ask them what they think are the good features and what could be improved. Coors Brewers research has highlighted that the following areas can be important in creating the right ambience and these areas should be explored in your questioning.

Seating and dècor

This should contribute to the ambience you are trying to create. If you want to encourage friends to meet in your outlet for a quiet drink then the seating and soft furnishings should be comfortable and relaxing, if on the other hand you are running a town centre entertainment led venue then relaxing seating is not going to be a priority.


This is crucial and should not be under estimated in creating the right ambience, level of light can be varied by time of day to create a different feel at key trading periods.

Music​ This is a powerful tool in managing the ambience of your outlet, take care in choosing the appropriate style and volume.

No-smoking areas

The creation of no-smoking areas within the bar will possibly help to widen your outlet's appeal.


The range of products stocked will contribute to the atmosphere within the bar for two reasons. The products themselves will indicate the type of consumer you wish to attract and as a consequence of this impact upon the ambience created. For example, an extensive range of shots and FABs will indicate to potential consumers that the outlet is appealing to, or trying to appeal to, younger consumers. An extensive list of speciality beers in another outlet will indicate appeal to a much different customer type.

Welcoming staff

Particularly important to customers across all outlet types but especially so on more relaxed occasions where the impact of friendly staff is most widely appreciated. Speed of service is again important across all outlets but it does take on particular relevance where you are trying to create a higher energy atmosphere.

Products should of course be served in excellent condition whatever ambience you are trying to create, however, there are opportunities to create real specialness in how you serve drinks and therefore positively affect the ambience of your outlet. You may consider introducing table service to heighten service standards, the introduction of branded glasses would contribute to the customers' perception of the outlet.

Having decided on the ambience you wish to create it is absolutely critical that this is now consistently applied in outlet. It maybe useful to use a pre-opening checklist before each session to ensure that all of the critical factors you have highlighted in the process above are in place, for example the correct levels of light, music etc.

Finally it is important that you constantly review the ambience you have created and the factors contributing to this. Regularly ask your existing customers for feedback but don't neglect potential customers that you may wish to target in future.

(1): Longman Dictionary of the English Language (1984)(2): Project Dragon (2002)

Ambience checklist

  • Decide what customers you want to attract
  • Find out what is important to these customers
  • Implement your findings consistently
  • Be prepared to review and change when necessary.

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