UEFA Euro 2020 is ‘biggest pub sales driver since Christmas 2019’

By Stuart Stone contact

- Last updated on GMT

Big opportunity: ‘Euro 2020 is the first opportunity for the UK as a whole to come together and put the pandemic behind us,’ according to MatchPint’s Dom Collingwood
Big opportunity: ‘Euro 2020 is the first opportunity for the UK as a whole to come together and put the pandemic behind us,’ according to MatchPint’s Dom Collingwood

Related tags: Sport, Football, Europe, England, Pub, Beer, Heineken, Coca-cola

As operators make final tweaks to drink line-ups and prepare pre-match team talks for staff, The Morning Advertiser (MA) discusses tournament tactics with industry experts.

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As restrictions ease, mobile Order & Pay plays a crucial role in helping pubs manage demand and increase sales.  

The technology is a game-changer during busy periods, like match days. Onvi has found its operators see around a 30% increase in sales vs. traditional ordering.   

One-touch reordering means customers can keep topped up with food and beverage throughout the game - ensuring the drinks keep flowing and maximising sales off each table.  

Digital menus allow you to create match day promotions, such as pre-game platters, or tap into new revenue streams like opening for collection, to service customers both in your pub, or those who may choose to watch at home.  

Staff no longer need to spend time taking payments or logging orders. Instead, they can spend their time serving more food and drink with maximum efficiency - with more time to engage with customers and join in with the sporting banter. 

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(Image: Getty Images/RidoFranz)

According to data from MatchPint and KAM Media, 41% of operators believe that UEFA Euro 2020 will be most profitable sporting occasion for their venues this summer, ahead of the final weekend of the Premier League (33%) and British & Irish Lions Rugby Tour (7%). 

As such, almost nine-out-of-ten (89%) operators plan to show games from the European Championships – with half of those claiming they will screen as many games as they can, according to the same dataset. 

“Euro 2020 represents the biggest opportunity for pubs, bars, and restaurants to drive sales since Christmas 2019,” MatchPint co-founder Dom Collingwood says. 

“Having been denied the opportunity to connect, to enjoy, and to celebrate each other’s’ company for more than a year, Euro 2020 is the first opportunity for the UK as a whole to come together and put the pandemic behind us. 

“Nothing brings people together more than cheering on their country together, and there is no better place to do that than in the pub.”

‘Important milestone’ on return to normality  

John Gemmell, on trade category and commercial strategy director at Heineken UK, tips Euro 2020 to be one of the most important sporting events ever to drive footfall and revenue following the long-awaited reopening of pubs, bars and restaurants under the Government’s roadmap. 

Euro 2020

“Some 12.9m people said last year that they were planning to go out to watch UEFA Euro 2020 and, coupled with the current pent-up demand for on-trade experiences, it’s likely the tournament will attract a large audience this year,” he tells The MA​. 

“Over a third of consumers go to pubs and bars to watch sport, staying 25 minutes longer but spending 30% more,” Gemmell adds. “Football is the most popular on-trade sporting occasions and attracts a younger crowd, so simply showing UEFA Euro 2020 presents a major opportunity to boost footfall, dwell time and sales." 

Though ETM Group’s London heartland poised to host more Euro 2020 fixtures than any other European city this summer – including the final at Wembley – owner Ed Martin believes the tournament will play a game changing role in the step towards on-trade recovery nationwide.  

“With wider lockdown restrictions being lifted mid-tournament, the Euros will be an important milestone towards the return to normality, and we can’t think of a better time, with the nation caught up in the wave of football,” he says. “For us, it’s a real light at the end of the tunnel and one we plan to maximise.”

Euro 2020: a game changer 

When quizzed by Matchpint, 44% of sport fans say watching live events is what they are looking forward to most about returning to pubs this summer, with 6.9m (13%) UK adults intending to watch at least one match from this summer’s postponed Euro 2020 in a pub or bar.

By comparison, 12% planned to watch the final weekend of the Premier League in the pub, 11% the Europa League and 10% the Champions League Final – while 9% hope to watch the Lions Tour and the Olympics at their local. 

“We have already seen hundreds of bookings go through MatchPint for pubs showing Euro 2020,” MatchPint’s Collingwood says.

“On the one hand, customers are more likely to book ahead than they were before Covid-19,” he adds. “On the other hand, with a number of operators falling on hard times, consumers face uncertainty over which pubs will be open and where the best places to watch the games will be.” 

BBPA outlines pub tactics ahead of UEFA Euro 2020

As operators count down to UEFA Euro 2020’s curtain raiser on 11 June, the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has produced practical guidance for pubs in an effort to assist safe and successful screenings this summer.

With live sport a hugely important part of the pub experience, and UEFA Euro 2020 the first major sporting tournament aired in pubs since their reopening from the third Covid-19 lockdown, the BBPA has drawn up guidance for operators looking to screen any of the competition’s 51 fixtures. 

The tournament tactics have been developed by the BBPA alongside the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII), UKHospitality (UKH), the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the Local Government Association (LGA).

What-rules-do-pubs-have-to-follow-during-UEFA-Euro-2020_wrbm_large

Read more here

The guidance for pubs is free and available to all publicans and operators as a PDF download here​​.​​

(Image: Getty Images/MH) 

‘A taste of stadium experience’ 

UEFA has confirmed that there will be a minimum capacity of 25% for the first three group matches and round of 16 match at Wembley, while Glasgow’s Hampden Park will host between 25% and 33% of stadium capacity for its trio of group games and solitary round of 16 tie.

With thousands of fans unlikely to be able to return to stadiums this summer, hordes of supporters will more than likely head to their local for their footballing fix. 

When asked “which of the following, if any, do you agree makes watching sports on TV in a pub better than watching at home?” by MatchPint, 56.5% of fans responded “the atmosphere created by watching with a big group of people” – the top response.

Other important factors included the opportunity to chat with other fans (33.6%) with 20.8% believing it’s the next best thing to actually seeing it live. 

Euro 2020-3

However, according to Ed Martin of ETM – which operates sports bars including Greenwood and Redwood in London, “the best atmosphere” doesn’t constitute loud and boisterous crowds throwing pints, but rather creating specific memories and embracing the culture of football in Europe. 

“Think specific playlists for games whatever the nation, food that brings a taste of the stadium experience, staff excited and knowledgeable about football wearing old kits and celebrating goals with guests,” he explains. “It’s all about sharing the same passion for sport that our guests have.

John Gemmell from the tournament’s beer partner Heineken adds that creating the perfect match day set-up will be crucial to delivering a great experience. 

“Balancing the unparalleled atmosphere of togetherness with appropriate social distancing, particularly as over two thirds of consumers feel social distancing will remain very important for pubs and bars even after lockdown,” he tells The MA​. 

“Research shows the quality of drinks on offer, experience and service are the top three factors for sports consumers – over-indexing amongst UEFA Euro 2020 fans.” 

Food and drink to ‘reflect fixtures’

Squad selection

While pubs usually go to great lengths to don their national colours during major tournaments, a number of drinks makers have followed suit ahead of Euro 2020.  

England supporters’ group, Block 109, has launched a beer in partnership with Portobello Brewery which they’re selling to raise money for grassroots football.  

Wembeerly fish eye

Wembeerly IPA​, which already has orders from 15 pubs across the capital, is made using exacts from the same rye grass seeds as the turf at Wembley – which will host Euro 2020’s final on 12 July – making it the first beer in the world to be made from a football pitch. 

Every time a football fan buys a bottle they’ll be donating to causes including Grassroots For Good – a community network started by Hackney Wick FC that champions the work of socially conscious amateur football clubs tackling inequality and lack of investment.  

ThreeHogsNewClip2021

Additionally, Surrey-based Hogs Back Brewery has launched a new badge for its popular Three Hogs beer ​– which is being brewed again for this summer’s Euros. 

Three Hogs was first brewed for the Euros in 2016, and again for the 2018 World Cup. It is available on draught and in 330ml bottles. 

The new design replaces the original three hogs logo with a hog, a sow and a piglet, and is being offered as a limited-edition pump clip to pubs and bars serving Three Hogs during Euro 2020. 

A 4% ABV golden ale, Three Hogs is brewed with a selection of English malts and hops including Fuggles grown on the Hogs Back hop garden next to the brewery. 

Mast-Jaegermeister UK is also distributing 5,000 football themed sales kits to pubs and bars across the country in bid to support its on-trade partners when hosting consumers during this summer’s tournament. 

The Jägermeister-branded kits include specialty country-based labels for 70cl bottles of Jägermeister​ for the tournament.

Euro 2020-4

Another key player in fans’ enthusiasm to return to the pub is “the chance to enjoy drinks and food while watching” according to MatchPint, which was flagged by a third (33.9%) of those asked to identify advantages of the pub versus the sofa.

As such, Mark Bentley, on-trade category controller at Molson Coors, believes that operators should look at how they can tailor their range to “tap into” excitement around the tournament and create a unique experience for fans to enjoy while watching the games. 

“One way of doing this would be to highlight some of the European beers that reflect the fixtures taking place, like Czech-inspired lagers such as Staropramen and Pravha in the run up to the Czech Republic’s fixtures,” he explains. “Or customers might enjoy a pint of Madri Excepcional while watching Spain, and a refreshing Rekorderlig cider during Sweden’s games. 

“The Belgian Witbier-style Blue Moon is an ideal accompaniment when watching Belgium’s team, as well as being a great choice for drinkers looking to try something different. And, of course, Carling will already be as familiar to England football fans as penalty shoot-out disappointment.

“Highlighting your different range of European and World beers throughout the tournament can be a great way to engage fans,” he summarises. “Encourage them to try something different and create a point of difference in your venue.”

With this in mind, however, Paul Robertson, head of on-premise at Coca-Cola European Partners also warns operators not to sideline soft drinks given the increasing popularity of low and no serves during the pandemic.

“Soft drinks will play an important role as fans look for refreshment during the game,” he says. “With increased demand for soft drinks in retail, which we expect to transfer into hospitality sales, getting the right soft drinks range is more important than ever.

“Prior to Covid, 69% of soft drinks sales in license were in colas, lemonade and mixers, so make sure these all feature in your core range.”

Staff tactics

Euro 2020-2

Interestingly, a number of the steps that fans believe pubs should take to make watching games on site more enjoyable tie in with likely social distancing regulations, according to data from MatchPint.

For example, when asked “which of the following should pubs be doing to make watching sports in pubs a more enjoyable experience?” fans responded more screens, so you’ve got more chance of a good view (37.3%), table service (33.4%), being able to pre-book tables for a guaranteed view (27.1%), being able to pre-order food and drink (27.1%), and table ordering via mobile phones during games (21.7%). 

“To ensure everything goes smoothly, invest time to fully brief your staff on new processes and offers,” Heineken UK’s Gemmell adds. “It’s worth assigning specific roles like glass collection or prompting repeat orders at table, particularly during the game itself to ease bottle necks before kick-off, at half time and at the final whistle.” 

ETM’s Martin adds that table service will naturally become prevalent as dictated by the restrictions. 

“We have seen a great uptake in the use of apps in our venues, with guests adapting to technology and embracing it, so we feel a step ahead already,” he says.  

“For this Euro campaign, worrying about losing your space to grab a pint will be a thing of the past.”

Gavin Peters, CMO of Onvi, goes as far as to claim that ahead of sporting events, one of the most cost-effective things pubs can do is get themselves set up with a “decent mobile order and pay solution”.  

"I'd urge pubs to really make the most of table service,” he says. “Customers don't want to lose their seat to go and order when engrossed in the game – or worse, have people walking in front of the screen to get to the bar. 

“Mobile ordering makes managing table service more efficient. Without taking orders or payments, staff can focus on getting food and drink out to manage demand, especially at peak times like half-time. 

“Where there may have once been slow times at the bar - when it goes to penalties for instance – digital ordering means customers continue to place orders throughout the entire game. Our operators see around a 30% uplift compared with ordering at the bar.” 

‘Tap into excitement’ 

Ultimately, operators should focus on giving their customers a unique matchday experience and create an atmosphere which will encourage them to watch games at your pub or bar and return for future fixtures, according to Paul Robertson, head of on-premise at Coca-Cola European Partners.

“This can be done through football-themed displays and special offers to really help create a point of difference,” he explains.

“Operators should look for ways to engage fans and tap into excitement in the run-up to and during the tournament by giving fans the chance to leave their pub as a winner – even if their side doesn’t triumph on the pitch.

“We’re launching a Scan and Score promotion, which enables guests to scan their Coca-Cola in outlet and be instantly notified whether they have won one of many exciting prizes including TVs, national team shirts and Coca-Cola branded merchandise,” he offers as an example. “The promotion can easily be set up in pubs or bars by requesting one of our 10,000 scan and score activation kits which will be ready for 1 June.” 

Ed Fryer, Drinks Category Manager at Fuller’s adds that the operator has teamed up with suppliers and will be offering a range of supporting games and activities with prizes for lucky pub goers.  

“Just by booking a table and watching the Euros in a Fuller’s pub, you could win pairs of tickets to a Euros game to complete your Ultimate Matchday Experience,” he explains. 

“In addition, we will be running prediction competitions with a range of rewards on offer including match tickets and free pints.”

Related topics: Sport

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