Comment: Cologne tour teaches service lessons

Related tags Bank holiday weekend Beer Beer style

Looking at how other cultures do drinks and pubs can often throw light on our own ways of doing business.Over the bank holiday weekend, I spent a...

Looking at how other cultures do drinks and pubs can often throw light on our own ways of doing business.

Over the bank holiday weekend, I spent a couple of days in Cologne, as celebrated for its Kölsch beer style as it is for its Eau de Cologne.

The city is teeming with busy bars, and they mostly worked under a simple but distinctive model of table service.

Basically, you sit down and you place your order with a waiter. There's generally only one type of beer - three at most - and trays of the stuff are circulated, ready to replace your empty 0.2-litre glass. To refuse another, you place your beermat on top of your glass. Waiters will have scribbled a tally of how many beers you've had on the beermat.

This was not a case of relying on assistance from suppliers desperate for licensees' business. There was no pushy point-of-sale material, nor price promotions on individual brands.

This is a service culture fostered by the bars themselves, and one which provided a memorable experience of an environment where drinking was a real pleasure.

There are undeniably deep-rooted differences between Cologne and here. In the German city, consumers are familiar with table service and the so-called café culture, and on-trade outlets are generally brewery taps, with small breweries owning a single bar and dictating how their produce is sold there. Nevertheless, my Kölsch tour served as a reminder that a straightforward policy on how a pub sells drinks can go a long way.

Related topics Beer Training

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