Summer of Sport

Becoming the fans' venue of choice this summer

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Make sure you see your business as a customer would and ensure customers get a good view of the match
Make sure you see your business as a customer would and ensure customers get a good view of the match

Related tags: Customers, Sport

Whatever type of sport you are planning to show at your pub, making sure you are prepared — like our sportsmen and women — is essential. Whether you need to get the internal layout right, make use of that neglected function room, or focus on keeping customers staying for longer, there are good opportunities to cash in on this summer of sport. But customers are fickle and will find another venue if their viewing experience is below par. Here are five tips to help you get your venue match-ready.

1. Take the customer journey

Sally Huband, director at furniture supplier Pub Stuff, advises licensees to view their venue as a customer would. “Licensees need to come in their front door sometimes instead of through the bar. A lot of publicans could do worse than walk through their front door and see what their customers see. It is amazing how many don’t,” she says.

Euro 2016 business boost

  • Two thirds of licensees think the Euros will lead to an increase in like-for-like sales of more than 10%
  • One in five think it will boost sales by over 20%
  • A quarter plan to invest in their equipment by upgrading TV screens and AV equipment 

As the majority of pub goers will be looking for a good view of the match, licensees need to ensure their screens are well-positioned and not hidden away in dark corners. Many people like to stand when watching sport, so higher tables can meet that demand and are good space savers as they can fit a large number people around them – allowing you to accommodate more paying punters.

“Tall and poseur tables are heavy duty and good for standing with high stools,” she says. “It helps the licensee get more people in and creates an environment that is conducive to watching sport.”

For customers who prefer more comfortable seating, Huband suggests a modular sofa that allows pubs to utilise underused space and add capacity for events.

2. Look inviting

While having the right furniture and layout to maximise sport is essential, licensees still need to ensure that their premises are tidy and inviting. “Sometimes just new barstools will do it. If they are all ripped and worn it is not a great first impression,” Huband says.

“People are often scared to refurbish because of the price, but it can transform your pub into something that looks ready for sport. The pubs that do immediately see a sustained uplift in sales.”

And if you are building your business on your sporting credentials, then maybe utilise that theme in the look of your outlet. The venues of US-style sports chain Bar Sport are decorated throughout with authentic sports memorabilia, from original promotional posters to title-fight boxing gloves and autographed kit.

3. Cater for groups

Bar Sport offers customers a range of different areas to enjoy the action. Founder and managing director Scott Murray says that each venue has a range of zones catering for customers watching different events. The bars also offer a range of seating areas, games areas with pool tables and table football as well as different sports simulators.

Table football pub

Each site caters for groups, allowing people to book and watch a sporting event together. It also provides a premium option for those who want to enjoy the action in luxury, with private booths with their own TVs, and VIP areas for private parties.

Another option that can be explored is that under-utilised function room. Could you place some table and chairs in the room and show the sporting events to even more paying customers?

4. Machine location

The additional income from machines and games tables can also be beneficial, but their location needs to be planned and positioned to utilise their full potential, according to Helen Wade, marketing manager at gaming supplier Bob Rudd. “It needs to be in line of sight of the bar, but equally a lot of players don’t want to be in the middle of the bar with people around them watching,” she advises.

Often a gaming machine will be positioned within wooden barriers, with a plug socket and a ledge for customers to put their drink. If you aren’t refurbishing then just making the customer feel comfortable with a stool nearby and a little table for their drink is good enough, she adds.

5. Post-match entertainment

Chess table pub garden

After a big sporting event it might be that offering something different in the pub garden keeps customers on site drinking and eating for longer. Concrete Sports offers a range of hard wearing outside tables including football, chess and table tennis. The tables add some theatre to the often-neglected garden area allowing customers to enjoy a range of sports games, according to Ralf Ganza, founder and director. 

“If you have free activities in your beer garden, customers will come and stay. It is about offering them social engagement,” he says. 

Related topics: Sport, Events & Occasions

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