Give more reasons to visit a pub, says Fugitive Motel boss

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Building a brand: Fugitive Motel co-founder David Burgess outlined how to connect with a community
Building a brand: Fugitive Motel co-founder David Burgess outlined how to connect with a community

Related tags Community

Pubs must adapt to the needs of modern communities to stay relevant, according to David Burgess, co-founder of Fugitive Motel.

Building a brand as a prominent social hub in an area is essential to the survival of a venue, he told attendees at The Morning Advertiser​’s MA500 conference today (13 February).

The company operates its flagship site in Bethnal Green, east London, but is looking to move shortly as part of its growth plan. 

Burgess pointed to Amazon lockers – kiosks in public spaces that can be used as a shipping address for parcels – as a way to open up a pub to more potential customers, by housing such lockers at their sites.

He explained: “I know you want to keep the lovely ambience of a pub but [you want] anything that can drive essentially what a pub was centuries ago, a social hub.” 

Reasons to visit

Burgess continued: “Create a reason for people to come that isn’t just simply consuming alcohol.

“We were never going to be a ‘Coach & Horses’ because we were a new-build unit in Bethnal Green – but if you can give your brand meaning, you can drive customer loyalty that way.

“Work some community or sustainability initiatives into your core operation to make it a more appealing place to visit.”

Fugitive Motel has also organised ‘plogging’ sessions, where joggers pick up litter as they go. This not only helps cement the site’s place and reputation in its community but has also led to participants staying in the pub for lunch afterwards.

Other ideas the company is keen to explore include a ‘grow your own’ herb garden and becoming a food bank collection drop-off point.

Busy space

Burgess said, as a relatively new company, it was crucial that the east London site pushed hard to make the most of its space, having recently expanded its food offer to include brunch.

He said: “We need our place busy morning, noon and night.”

The founder highlighted the success of experiential-led sites such as Flight Club and Bounce, and said: “You need bar games and competitive socialisation. Drinks are not necessarily now enough of an experience.”

“It’s a great way to get bookings up front: get them in the diary, charge for them. It drives dwell time.”

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