Getting your venue on-trend for summer

How to take advantage of the summer months - whatever the English weather throws at us

How can you make the most of the busy summer period and get your venue in tip top shape to attract more customers, rain or shine?

It is never too early to start the preparations to ensure your outlet is ready for the months ahead. Whether that’s fresh plants and colourful flowers in the garden or a new lick of paint to make the inside of your pub a bit brighter, this is the time to make those changes.

Although we are all wishing for the hot sunshine this summer, it’s important to prepare for those summer days when the weather isn’t so glorious too. We all know that the British climate can be extremely unpredictable, so make sure to prepare for all scenarios. For example, do you have a marquee you can pop up in the garden which means that people can still sit outside without getting wet? Also consider which of your summer events can be moved inside if the heavens do open. Read on for advice on which summer events you should be running to drive your sales.

52% of visits to pubs and bars now start before 8pm. 9 out of 10 of these visits happen in just one place  – giving you a great opportunity to make your site an ‘all-in-one’ venue this summer.  

(Kantar 2019)

Use your outdoor space effectively

Your outdoor space is essential to attracting customers over the summer season. They will want to sit outside and enjoy the beautiful weather. Whether you have room for a pub garden, or a nice area at the front of your venue, there are many ways you can get this ready for the busy season ahead.

Plan ahead if you have a garden area, some fresh flowers can make a real difference. It can be a game changer – both for the “Instagrammable” appeal for Gen Z and millennials, but also just being in a nice, fresh and beautiful atmosphere. The thought of enjoying an ice cold beverage in a beer garden fills most people with joy – make sure your outdoor space is well lit, inviting, and colourful.

Suitable seating is vital to give your customers somewhere attractive to spend their afternoon and evenings in the summer. Your seating should look inviting and match your venue style. As well as looking great, it needs to be able to stand the test of time so that you don’t have to replace it every year. Upcycling materials is a growing trend and allows you to put your own personal stamp on your outdoor area. Consider spray painting your furniture to give it a new lease of life, or stamping branding onto your tables and parasols or planters. This will give your outlet a personalised and slick look.

Heaters are a great way of enticing customers as they then know they can sit outside and socialise well into the summer evenings and not have to move inside when things get a little chilly. You can use the heaters well into the colder months too and create a snug space for your customers, providing that moment of experience.

Create long summer occasions in your beer garden with J20 Spritz – effectively upsell and recommend that your customers pair their food with J20 Spritz to help drive sales

One of the biggest bug bears for customers is the need to go to the inside bar to buy a drink in the summer months – this can easily be rectified. Create an outdoor pop-up bar so that they can order food and drink without having to leave the sunshine. You could use this bar to promote your summer special menu as well as bottled beers and wine, or even a ‘burger and drink’ deal to keep it simple for them.

If your establishment doesn’t have an outdoor space, then bring the outside in. Open all of your doors and windows on sunny days to match the feel of being outside.

Have summer menus with seasonal specials

Creating a summer specific menu is a great way of enticing your existing customers with a new and fresh offering, but also encouraging new customers to visit. Start by asking what your existing customers want to see on your summer menu. Don’t just consider updating your food menu, change the drinks menu to be in-keeping with the warmer weather too – update it regularly throughout the summer to keep it fresh. Try offering a “special” cocktail which changes daily to pique your regular customers interest.

Link your food and drink menus together and offer food pairing recommendations – as well providing your customers with additional ideas and encouraging them to try new things, this is also a great way to get your staff to upsell effectively.

Customers will often visit the pub in the summer months with friends and family as a social occasion. As well as offering a fresh drinks menu and specials, offer larger format drinks that they can share as well as a sharing or tapas menu. Why not try pairing a Pimms jug including fresh garnishes and paper straws with a Mediterranean mezze board? Always cater for the designated drivers too with sharing mocktail jugs.

Providing a sharing or tapas menu for those that are spending the afternoon and evening with you will help increase dwell time, and therefore spend.  

Don't forget to remember your kids menus for the summer too. Kids holidays are six weeks long, so you can expect an increase in family visits. Kids want to feel like adults. It’s important that your you offer them some of the same items as the adult menu but just smaller portions to make them feel like they are getting the same as their parents. Offer mid-week deals to encourage visits in the week and turn your quieter days into busy ones.

Take advantage of sporting events

We all know from the summer of 2018 that sporting events can bring the nation together – did you know, the Russia World Cup was a key reason for the 4.4% increase in beer sales compared to 2017 [1]? Don’t miss out on the number of upcoming sporting events this summer and be prepared.

It’s not just football that can help to drive sales in your venue – there are a number of niche sporting events that you can take advantage of. We are lucky to have Wimbledon every summer, a tournament that the whole country gets behind. The BBC’s Wimbledon viewing figures for 2018 were 26 million people [2], a huge proportion of the UK. An easy win would be to televise Wimbledon at your outlet encouraging further visits during the tournament. Create a special food and drink pairing menu with links to the tournament and famous players.

[1] British Beer & Pub Association – Beer Barometer Data
[2] www.wimbledon.com | Facts & Figures

If you have a TV in your venue, or are planning on installing one to take advantage of extra sales, make sure you promote this on social media and with visible signage. Making your customers aware of the matches/sports you are showing is a great way of driving footfall into your establishment this summer.

You will know your customers best, but always ask what sports they want to watch. Your customer, ultimately the sports fan, should be at the centre of any sports offering.

Organise summer events

Summer events give operators a great way to appeal to wider audiences. Promoting a schedule of summer events which includes fetes, kids games, quizzes, family days and themed nights via social media and other marketing techniques will be sure to increase visits from the locals.

Think about types of events that you could put on this summer:

  • Gin/Beer Festival with local distillers/breweries
  • Summer fete with local sellers from the community e.g. local ice cream van, jewellery makers
  • Family days including games/activities e.g. giant jenga, bouncy castle
  • Sports day
  • Live music events
  • Live outdoor play
  • Outdoor cinema
  • BBQ
  • Quizzes
  • Themed nights e.g. Ibiza night/white party

It may not always be events that you are putting on yourself either, but consider if there are any other local events taking place. Are you on route to a local music festival? This is a great opportunity to increase your signage outside your venue and encourage festival goers to stop on their trip for a quick drink or snack.

Is your local village having a summer fete already? Set up your portable bar and encourage people to visit your outlet either then or in the future. Be friendly and welcoming and show off the great assets that your venue has. These events are a great way of marketing your business with the locals and also being a familiar face for your regulars. Get a live band at your venue to do a set when the fete has closed for the day to keep the party going for visitors.

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