Insights

Sports and licensees – A match made in heaven

When summer and sports collide, they create the perfect opportunity for pubs to drive revenues harder. But these days, it’s not just a case of turning on a television in the bar. More customers desire an experience-led visit to their local to bring them closer to the onscreen action.

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It is a great British pastime; a visit to the pub to watch the match with family and friends. For many, the atmosphere is better than watching it in real life, while the pub also provides the advantage of a wide drinks and food offering, as well as being a place to gather and socialise pre- and post-event.

Some 6.9 million consumers planned to watch the men’s Euros in a pub or bar last year, while 4.7 million said the same about the Olympics, with 22% of consumers considering big sporting events as an occasion to go out to a pub or bar. This shows there is considerable sentiment and demand for pub visits when a sporting element is attached.

Top tips for busy periods:

• Stock up on packaged products, such as single-serve glass bottles of Pepsi MAX® and London Essence mixers, which can be sold in ice buckets with a bottle of spirits at a fixed price


• Provide bottomless refills on soft drinks or serve soft drinks in pitchers


• Take complicated drink serves and dishes off menus to speed up service


• Create meal deals for groups that consist of quick-serve dishes such as BBQ-style food and soft drinks to speed up service


• Encourage guests to book tables and spaces prior to a televised sporting event to give a better understanding of numbers to help with ordering

Driving customers to venues is predominantly the atmosphere that awaits them during a big screened sporting event, with the majority choosing pubs over watching at home for this reason. Others say it is a great chance to enjoy drinks, engage with other fans or gain a greater sense of the event, which they claim ‘is generally more exciting’.

Although, it’s not just the customers who look forward to a stellar line up of a summer of sports. Three-quarters of publicans say sports could play a significant part in attracting more business during the summer.

Expand your trading footprint

• For pubs with big gardens, hire marquees during busy sporting periods to create a new trading space


• Serve packaged drinks from fridges in temporary outdoor areas and portable bars to free up the main bar


• Hire or buy large screens or projectors and sound systems to show sports outside or in temporary structures


• Create or utilise permanent garden pods or huts by installing TVs and mini fridges to be hired out exclusively to guests at a premium

Although consumers need few excuses to go to a pub to watch sport, there are circumstances that will keep them home. Some 40% say bad weather will stop them from crossing the threshold and 20% say takeaways are more tempting.

Tempt customers out with special deals and dedicated spaces for them to book in advance, possibly with a holding deposit, to give them more incentive to turn up. Deals on food and drink are important, with 34% of those asked saying special deals on food would help tempt them out, and a quarter adding special drinks deals would encourage them to leave home for the pub.

The pub is a natural choice for sports fans to come together to enjoy an event under one roof. But there is more pressure on pubs to provide a point of difference. Customers are looking for more from their pub visits in general, particularly around premium with a third of consumers looking for higher quality drinks and experiences following the pandemic.

This means even at sporting events, customers could be looking to trade up to something more expensive as they seek elevated experiences. This could be a No and Low alcohol consumer, looking for an option beyond a long soft drink, such as a house soda or mocktail. Or, a spirit and mixer consumer might seek a more premium tonic, such as London Essence, to go with a higher-quality spirit.

With a big season of sporting events on the horizon, licensed venues should get ahead and plan activities to ensure they maximise the revenue opportunities available to them.

Big sporting events of summer 2022:

July:
• Tennis Grand Slam: The Championships Wimbledon: 27 June–10 July
• F1 Grand Prix: 1–3 July
• Tour De France: 1–24 July
• UEFA Women’s Euro: 6–31 July

 

August:
• Commonwealth Games: 28 July–8 August
• British Grand Prix MotoGP: 5–7 August
• English Premier League: 6 August
• Tennis Grand Slam: US Open: 29 August –11 September

 

September:
• The Hundred – The Eliminator: 2 September
• The Hundred – The finals: 3 September
• Rugby World Cup Sevens: 9–11 September