How do operators think pubs will change in 2019?

By MA Editorial

- Last updated on GMT

Transformative time: operators forecast that AI, social support and political activism will become more prevalent in pubs this year
Transformative time: operators forecast that AI, social support and political activism will become more prevalent in pubs this year
The Morning Advertiser asked three pub operators to look ahead and forecast what changes we could see in the on-trade over the next 12 months.
Emily Kolltveit

Emily Kolltveit, the Chandos Arms, Colindale, north London

“In my imagination I see the red flag of revolution flying above my pub packed with people discussing the overthrow of a society where equality and justice have ceased to matter!

“This of course is a direct reflection of my own personal political views, but it would be foolish for the industry not to recognise the significant interest that young adults are showing in campaigning for a fairer country. Last year’s People’s March in London attracted more than 700,000, many of whom were in their 20s and 30s.

“It is time to remind everyone that all the great revolutions started in the taverns!

“Pubs have always been a place of debate. Political parties meet regularly at my pub and I’ve seen a growth in the attendance of younger adults.

“With the scent of a new general election in the air, the disastrous bid to make Brexit happen and a growing appetite for change, I can foresee the tavern once more may become a centre for political debate in 2019.

“Much of this discussion now takes place online through social networks but there is no substitute for a face-to-face debate.

“We have an opportunity to gather and encourage groups to meet and by involving yourself in the future of this country, you might well find a growth in your volumes.

“We achieve nothing by standing on the sidelines. It is only by being at the heart of our communities and what drives them that pubs will find a secure future.”

Claire Alexander, co-owner, Cotswolds-based Yubby Inns

Claire Alexander

“Social media will continue to play a key part in our marketing. There’s a whole new world of communication with our customers across various platforms.

“People want more than a website or a road sign, they want to see you on Facebook and Instagram before they commit to spend. 

“They’re not satisfied with the dying breed on TripAdvisor – they want to read reviews, hear about awards, and ideally by word of mouth.

“Social media is a long game but having focused on it in the past year, I’ve built 14,000 followers on Instagram and more than 11,000 on Facebook across two pubs. This engaged following brings me a lot of new business, and often better business, and we communicate the whole Cotswold experience.

“We have also added a lot of organic dishes to our menu.

“We’ve spent the last year making our own beers, Yubby bitter, Goldie and Yawnie, organic.

“We use a local company - Ecotricity - for 100% renewable sources, our oil is converted to biodiesel to fuel trucks, and we use timers and motion sensors to reduce our carbon foot print. We make our own beers (draught and bottle) but predominantly we are a tourism and food business in the Cotswolds.

“But, we’re also a venue that helps combat social isolation in old people – some of my customers wouldn’t see anyone without us being open all day.

“And we need to support our young people with social anxiety problems, both in the workplace and by making them realise that pubs are great places to thrive.

“As for Brexit, who knows, but I don’t see a future with Theresa May in it. We need someone who will finally make the supermarkets pay VAT - the hospitality industry could do with paying less - being able to employ more taxpayers would more than make up for it.”


Calvin Dow

Calvin Dow, the Castle Inn, Skipton, North Yorkshire

“I know it’s been said a few times already over the years, but I expect rum to be big this year. 

“I also think we’ll start to see better and more modified games machines and AI such as machines to charge mobile phones etc, as well as more pub-related mobile phone apps for ordering drinks/food and reviewing service.

“I can see food offerings moving more towards vegetarian and vegan dishes, healthy and calorie-counting options, as well as allergy awareness. 

“I predict there will be yet more craft ales and lagers on the market and more alcoholic canned products in the fridges. I'm also confident the major brewers will release more alcohol-free and low-alcohol products. 

“I expect there will be a larger coffee selection hitting pubs, as we already have customers asking for things such as skinny lattes and flat whites, rather than standard coffees and teas, as well as a ‘to go’ option.

“I can also see pubs will be applying to open earlier than the traditional 11am, for breakfasts and coffees, and start straying away from opening late.”

Related topics: Events & Occasions

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