Once upon a time, operators relied on dartboards, pool tables and the noisy fruit machine gathering dust in the corner to entertain their punters. But, as with everything in the modern age, it’s out with the old and in with the new.
As New Year’s Eve approaches, operators need to push the boat out to draw in customers and give them a reason to stay. But that doesn’t have to mean keeping your customers outside in the cold watching the fireworks – the new year is the time to get inventive.
Operators across the country are taking a second look at their empty spaces and tailoring their entertainment provision to t with current trends and wow the crowds.
Shufl marketing manager Samantha Catford says: “Dark winter days make new year and the festive holiday season the ideal time to focus on your indoor gaming offer and ensure there is a compelling reason for customers to visit your pub or bar.
“Social gaming or competitive socialising isn’t new but authentic analogue games like shuffleboard are enjoying a resurgence.
“They’re being embraced by next generation customers because they offer an interactive, memorable experience that meets the demand for less alcohol-centred nights out.”
Innis & Gunn director of retail operations Steve Drew agrees: “We introduced shuffleboard because it’s brilliant fun for customers as they enjoy a beer and competitive action.
“It really comes into its own at this time of year as it’s a great idea for Christmas and new year office parties.”
But it doesn’t end there. Find out what operators are up to this New Year’s Eve.
The Caledonia, Liverpool. Licensee Laura King
What’s the plan? – Alchemy Collective are performing, they’re a local, contemporary jazz group.
What does NYE mean for your pub? - NYE is a round-up of our year and a celebration of our community. We are usually full of locals and regulars who are looking to have a meaningful, wholesome, moderately rowdy good time where they’re comfortable and safe.Three top tips
Quality: Don’t be afraid to spend a little extra to book something extra special
Be yourselves: Do something that’s typical and reflective of your establishment
Prepare: Have a contingency plan – this way you can confidently host events without the potential for drama.
The Nags Head, Abingdon, Oxfordshire
What’s the plan? – Our customers will have front seat action for Abingdon’s biggest (and best) fi rework display at their perfectly positioned pub. The DJ will also be on the decks throughout the night, bringing the new year in with the best bangers to get the party going.
What does NYE mean for your pub? - We’re all about bringing the community together. It’s one of our busiest nights of the year for trade so it’s really important we ensure everyone is having the best time.Three top tips
Listen to your locals: simply ask returning customers how they spend their NYE. What makes it so special? Is it the food, the people, the music?
Get creative: we wanted to give locals the best fi rework display in the area and our pub is situated in such a stunning spot, how could we not do it?
Book yourself a top notch DJ: you need to soundtrack your evening just right for your audience, so securing the right DJ who will play the most memorable party anthems throughout the night is vital
The Turks Head, Hasketon, Suffolk. Managing director Jemima Withey
What’s the plan? - For the first three years, we had party with a live band, food and fizz at midnight. It was ticket only. This will be our second year of having live jazz in the bar, an à la carte menu plus specials and no tickets. For us this works much better.
What dose NYE mean for your pub? - The band is much cheaper, people spend more on supper, the bar is very busy and we have no obligation to keep everybody entertained until midnight. If they want to have supper and head home that’s fi ne. Our turnover was 25% higher than having a party. We don’t like closing our bar to the public, so ticket entry doesn’t really suit our style.Three top tips
Make sure someone oversees counting down to new year
Keep your regulars happy
Make them feel welcome
The George & Dragon, Holmes Chapel, Crewe. Pub representative Martin Barnes
What’s the plan? - We host a ‘dress to impress’ seven-course, fine-dining tasting menu with entertainment from a four-piece band. Every year we are fully booked for the next NYE event by New Year’s Day, before menus or prices are even released.
What does NYE mean for your pub? - The repeat business is incredible, there are customers who have joined us for NYE every year for the past 10 years. It seems we have a good recipe and it’s one of our best nights over the festive season.Three top tips
New Year is a special occasion, it makes people feel special. Little touches can make all the difference
Customers all want a good time. Give them the chance to spend, it’s a night when you can potentially offer better wines and Champagnes by the glass
Organisation prior to our event is key
The Dog at Wingham, Kent. Owner Marc Brigden
What’s the plan? - We have a DJ this year but, in the past, we’ve used a magician and live music.
What does NYE mean for your pub? - NYE is one of the most challenging nights of year for us – it is all dependent on guests playing their part in the night too.Three top tips
Keep the Champagne flowing
Host an incredible dinner
Glitter cannons (are a must)
The Sheep on Sheep Street, Stow-on-the-Wold
What’s the plan? - We’ll be waving goodbye to 2019 from our gorgeous garden party marquee with a mouth-watering four-course meal. For just £55 per person, we’ll whisk you into a whirlwind of live music (from 8.30pm to 12.30am) and for those looking to soak up the party vibes without the feasting, we will be making room at the bar for just £10 a head.
What does NYE mean for your pub? - Being based in the Cotswolds means we can really play upon our beautiful surroundings. Hosting a New Year’s Eve garden party is the perfect opportunity to bring something extra to a small market town. We may not have the larger populations other pubs have the luxury of, but how could you not want to see in this new decade in such a beautifully picturesque region?Three top tips
Innovation: coming up with fresh ideas year upon year for NYE parties can be a challenge. By offering something a bit different and dynamic will ensure your night is a success
Utilise your local suppliers: we’re blessed to have some fantastic producers on our doorstep and we make the most of it, our NYE four-course feast is going to really delight our guests
Produce something for everyone: not everyone has loads of money at this time of year and we don’t want to exclude our loyal locals so we’ve got bar tickets for £15 for them to soak up the atmosphere as well as our £55 garden party feast.