The survey, undertaken in conjunction with Heineken, found that a third of licensees are dissatisfied with their website, have no effective management of TripAdvisor and other review sites, and are ignoring the significance of fast-growing social media channels such as Instagram.
The good news is the vast majority of licensees surveyed (93%) had embraced Facebook as a marketing tool, and two thirds were keen to receive further training on the platform.
Also, more than 70% believe that providing Wi-Fi is crucial for customers with only 4% describing internet access as ‘not important’.
But fewer than a fifth of survey respondents use Instagram — the second largest social-media platform in the world — and only 20% wanted training for this channel. In terms of Twitter, just over 60% of licensees use the platform, but only 18% felt like they needed training on the social media platform.
Alarmingly, licensees presented a chaotic picture when it came to customer review sites with no single opinion formed on how best to approach sites such as
TripAdvisor. And as many pubs said that they ‘didn’t bother’ to respond as those that said they ‘always respond’ (see infographic).
The news was equally poor for how pubs use and collect customer data. Only 40% actively maintained a database, and a third of that — just over a sixth of licensees — said that ‘creating interesting consumer content’ was the biggest barrier to utilising the database to drive sales to their pubs.
The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) welcomed the findings, and insisted that ‘a lot of effort’ was going into helping licensees tackle the challenges of the digital world.
Chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “There are some very positive figures here in terms of awareness, and it is fair to say that publicans appreciate the challenge that there is more to be done to make the most of online promotion and digital. As far as our members are concerned, I know there is a lot of effort going in to helping and advising pubs.”
Simmonds also referenced the work being done by some large tenanted pubcos that offer a wide range of help, including bespoke pub
websites, as well as social media training.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, added that the importance of social media ‘cannot be overemphasised’ and a lack of awareness could lead to problems for licensees.
She said: “Hospitality businesses need to make sure they don’t leave their marketing strategies to chance. Increasingly, we are seeing evidence that licensing authorities are also monitoring social media and poor practice may lead to additional problems that jeopardise licences.”
For more on the digital survey results and how to make the most of the online world, visit http://bit.ly/1PJq0vn