“Whether your outlet is a high-street bar in London or a country pub in Cornwall, pubs should capitalise on the consumer interest and national pride that will accompany the London 2012 Games,” believes Darryl Hinksman, Heineken’s head of UK on-trade marketing.
As Hinksman points out, outlets anywhere in the country can join in with the Olympic fever, and it’s not even necessary to rely on television.
In fact, with some creative thinking and a bit of planning the Olympics can boost sales on some of the quieter nights of the week in any outlet.
The Bungalows & Bears pub in Sheffield, for example, is planning its own Olympics to coincide with the torch relay passing by its doors. The ‘games’ will include paper aeroplane throwing, Wii boxing, staring contests, Jacob’s Cream Cracker eating and other non-gruelling events, with a £50 food/drinks tab for the winners, says events organiser Jeremy Arblaster.
According to Arblaster, each team will be allocated a country and must have at least two members, so they can compete in each event.
“The day will be accompanied by DJs playing sports-related music and generally having a laugh with the microphone,” he explains.
Other pubs around the country have already experienced a boost in visitor numbers as the torch passed by. The torch relay went past the Prince of Wales in Falmouth on 19 May, and this kicked off the pub’s summer programme of events, which will incorporate the Olympics and culminate in a beer festival and British Food Fortnight.
“We launched our treasure hunt, which will go on until August, on the day the torch passed us,” says publican Jane Martin. “Participants have to find something with links to each country in the games and the prize for the winner is a barrel of beer.”
On the day of the torch relay, the pub opened early and offered an Olympic breakfast to those who wanted to get a good seat in advance. “We were pretty busy and we definitely had more visitors than usual,” says Martin.
The Prince of Wales has also created an Olympic buffet with a gold, silver and bronze option.
“We have a lot of fish here, naturally, so the menu has a gold option, such as Dover sole, and then a more budget bronze option, such as mackerel,” she explains.
Pub companies have also been preparing their venues for an up-surge in visitor numbers. Mitchells & Butlers, for example, has brought out its Ahead of the Games programme for 66 of its restaurants and pubs located close to key Olympic venues and, therefore, well positioned to host corporate events.
The programme offers information such as distance to the Olympic venues from each pub, and what corporate group hire facilities they can offer.
“We have been looking ahead to the London 2012 Olympics since the beginning of 2011,” says a spokesman. “In fact, we have a dedicated internal committee considering all aspects of our operations, including security, staffing and the proximity of businesses to key Olympic venues — ensuring our restaurants and pubs make the most of this global event.”
Similarly, Scottish & Newcastle Pub Company (S&NPC) has produced and issued a Sport for Success guide to all of its lessees.
Tips from the guide include ordering more than usual for the period of a major competition.
“Ensure you have at least two-thirds more than your usual stock for each key sporting event or big match day,” says customer marketing manager Keith Parsons.
The guide also suggests creating ‘corridors’, so that roving servers and table servers can move about the pub freely. “Mark these ‘lager lanes’ with coloured masking tape so customers will be subconsciously encouraged to keep them clear,” says Parsons.
Other tips include installing a temporary bottle bar in your TV zone. S&NPC also recommends booking in extra staff. “As a rough guide, a minimum ratio is one staff member to 20 customers,” he explains.
Geronimo Inns has a selection of pubs close to Olympic venues, including the Cow at Westfield Stratford. To make the most of the increased footfall, the company is also introducing a pop-up bar in the shopping centre this month. The Calf is a barn-style bar that specialises in cocktails.
Enterprise Inns, meanwhile, has launched its Pubs 2012 scheme to encourage its 3,000 community pubs to support local athletes.
Enterprise will tell the pubs when and where local athletes are competing, and then the pubs can encourage their local customers to head down to the pub to watch the event.
“It’s difficult to predict footfall in the pubs — a lot of it is down to the weather,” explains commercial director Ed Cottrell. “But we have to offer fast, timely information on how to make the most of these events.”
So, whether the sporting action is local to you or not, there are plenty of novel ways in which pubs can capitalise on the Games and make this summer a truly golden one.
Heineken urges pubs: prepare like athletes
As the Official Lager Supplier and sponsor of London 2012, Heineken is advising publicans to “think like world-class athletes” in making sure they are fully prepared for the Olympics.
Head of UK on-trade marketing Darryl Hinksman says publicans should ask themselves the following:
1) How can I tap into the interest in London 2012 to make my pub busier during the games? Sports quiz nights and themed food offerings are two of the simplest and most effective ways to do this.
2) Will I need to increase my stock? Pubs near Olympic venues will have delivery restrictions in place during the period, so ensure you are prepared for these changes.
3) Should I change my normal opening hours?
4) Do I need to apply for a temporary event notice (TEN)? Licensing teams will be dealing with a large volume of TENs, so pubs are strongly advised to make their submissions now.
5) Do I need to upgrade my TV screening equipment?
6) Do I need to recruit additional staff, or increase staff training?
Coca-Cola gets with the Olympic beat
As an Olympic sponsor, Coca-Cola is running a recycling campaign in conjunction with the Olympic torch relay. ‘Recycle Beat’ is a recycling vehicle accompanying the Olympic flame on its journey across the UK.
Torch spectators are being invited by the company to recycle their empty bottles and cans into the chute of their choice on the hybrid van, and in doing so activate a musical remix of Mark Ronson’s London 2012 anthem, Move to the Beat.
Separately, pubs can maximise their Olympic support by stocking special bottles of Coca-Cola. The second series of limited edition glass 330ml bottle designs, featuring one of five silhouettes from some of the most popular sports at the Olympic Games, is now available.
The collectable bottles join the first series of designs featuring the Olympic rings logo, launched in March.