The Premier League is underway and with 32 extra matches to be broadcast live this year it's a good time to focus on getting more sports fans into your pub (and keeping them happy once they're in).
This article looks at how you can make your pub appeal to sports fans and maximise the uplift in revenue this can bring with it.
Provide a mix of sports for all fans
While the Premier League is a big draw for many pubs, showing a good range of sports will help increase traffic beyond just those fans. Research has shown that pubs can see a significant boost in traffic during international football, rugby tournaments, and even American football games.
Providing a mix of sport can be great way to bring customers in throughout the day, rather than just at peak times.
The rugby world cup is just around the corner and with the tournament being held in Japan means matches will be broadcast in the morning in the UK - a time when most pubs would otherwise be empty. Boxing fights are frequently broadcast late in the evening when many pubs would usually be closed or starting to lose customers.
Show what they don't have at home
With many fans now having Sky and BT Sport at home, few people have needed to visit the pub to watch a match in recent years. However, this season Amazon has secured 20 Premier League matches. With only 30% of sports fans having Amazon at home, showing these matches is a great opportunity to bring people into your pub.
The same applies to pay per view boxing fights. While these can be expensive, they can also draw a large crowd, often at times that would otherwise be quiet.
Make sure your customers know you will be showing events they may not be able to see at home. You can use your website, social media, mailing lists, and in-venue advertising. MatchPint can also be a great way to help sports fans find your pub.
Create the right atmosphere
Atmosphere is one of the top-cited reasons for fans to choose to watch sport in the pub. Fans want to be able to cheer without feeling self-conscious, they want to be able to find other fans to connect with, and they want to feel like their passion for sport is taken seriously.
You don't have to go all out and display every team's colours, but a few decorations here and there can make your pub feel like the right place to watch sports, rather than just a pub that happens to show matches on a TV. If fans feel truly welcome, they'll make plans to watch more events at your pub.
Let everyone see and hear
This goes along with creating the right atmosphere. There may be many pubs showing a big match, but they may just have it playing on a small screen that only a few customers can really see.
By having multiple screens, placing them strategically, and investing in a good sound system, you'll ensure that all of your customers have an optimal viewing experience for their favourite sporting events.
Promote smaller events
It may be relatively easy to draw fans in for the big headline events, but to keep your pub's traffic consistent, you'll want to bring people in the door for smaller events, too.
You can do this by running promotions that entice fans to enjoy every sports event at your pub. Try a happy hour that runs during all events, or a special food and drink offer while a match is on.
Provide quick and easy service
Being able to get served quickly and easily is a big reason fans choose one pub over another. It's also a big factor in securing loyal customers who make your venue their top choice for sports in the future.
Ensuring you have enough bar staff on shift is essential. Offering table service is a big plus.
To provide a really seamless experience you could offer iPad menus and self-serve beer taps so customers don't have to miss a minute of the action to go and queue at the bar. This concept was the main driver in taking The Thirsty Bear in London Waterloo to the finals for the Best Sport Pub in the 2017 Great British Pub Awards.
As you can see, it takes more than just installing a television to truly maximise trade from sport at your pub. By offering a mix of sports, properly advertising the matches you'll be showing, and ensuring a fantastic customer experience, you can bring in sports fans and turn them into loyal pub customers.