Recovery in the hospitality sector in 2021 will depend on venues in the UK being able to make the most of key drinking and eating occasions.
Lots of us are desperate to get back to cheering on live football games in the pub or watching the Olympic athletes perform incredible feats while we eat chips and enjoy a pint of lager. We’ve put together some tips on how to get value from the huge number of sporting events that are coming up this Summer.
Take a look at our ‘winning strategy’ for making the most of sports occasions in 2021.
Select what games or events to show
With more major events this year than normal, due to rescheduled events like the Olympics, you have a wide range of live events to choose from. Picking which games or competitions to play and which to skip is an important choice given that you may lose out on customers who prefer music to Martin Tyler’s commentary.
Think about what demographics make up your customer base. Patrons across the UK are most likely to visit venues to watch football, but this depends heavily on age, gender, and other social factors. Are there any sports that dominate in your local area, that could attract groups for team outings and set your venue apart? The time when the games are happening could also be a factor. You also may want to select games or events that occur during a period that would normally be quiet for your venue anyway and make the most of the increased traffic.
Formulate a game plan
It’s important to consider your approach to organising and promoting the event. Using social media, especially targeted at local sporting and community groups on Facebook, could be an effective way to get your message out. According to research by CGA, 70% of consumers who visit venues to watch sport, or ‘sporting consumers’ get some or most of their information about new venues from social media.
It’s also worth thinking about whether you’ll require bookings for sporting occasions. With strict rules around Covid safety still in place, it might help to plan social distancing and table service if you have firm numbers before the event.
One government guideline that may take some careful planning is the requirement that venues are not allowed to undertake activities that encourage shouting or chanting. This is a tough ask of both licensees and sporting consumers. It might be worth letting your customers know when they booking that you have to discourage sustained chanting and singing to prepare them for a less rowdy experience than they might be used to
Create the space
According to CGA, 67% of sporting consumers cite atmosphere as the most important factor in enjoying live sports in a venue. Elements like audible live commentary, event-specific drink deals, and ad-free games can be included in promotional posts and materials to entice sport-lovers to your venue. Event-specific POS and decoration in team colours can help add to the atmosphere of excitement and anticipation.
Before the game or event, you may also want to consider table placement which allows for both social distancing, easy table service, and visibility of the TV. While it can feel like a bit of a game of Tetris, particularly if you have limited space, putting thought into this before the event could save you a big headache down the line.
Get the mix right
Sporting consumers, according to CGA have a strong preference for a lager, making up 44% of drinks consumed during sporting occasions, followed by cider, ale, and craft beer.
One way to both simplify your menu and maximise profit is to pare down your offering during sporting occasions. With the knowledge of what often sells well among sport lovers, you could offer a single lager, Ale, craft beer and cider along with classic mixers and some basic serves, like Pimms cup or Aperol spritz. Physical menus and promoted drinks specials sitting on the table are a powerful tool to prompt sales, especially when table service is in action. Use this to drive customers to the products in every category that offer strong margins for your business.
It’s also worth keeping in mind the event itself when choosing your menu. Tennis fans watching Wimbledon games might like to indulge in sparkling wine garnished with a strawberry, while football fans watching the Spain v. Sweden game during the Euros could enjoy a festive jug of sangria.
For any event ordering the right amount of stock to meet demand is a challenge. Requiring customers to pre-book does make this process a little easier, as does looking at similar events in previous years. CGA data shows that 1 in 4 consumers in the UK planned to go out to watch a live game for the Euros in 2020, suggesting that with the event finally able to go ahead demand will probably be strong.
But with Covid 19 and lockdowns for most of the last year, predicting how customers will behave in venue is still difficult. There is strong data showing that many consumers plan on treating themselves when they return to trade. This notion of ‘revenge spending’ could translate into more pints during a game, or simply choosing a more premium lager or spirit. The effect that enforced seating and table service will have on sporting occasions is also unclear. Will customers feel the pressure to move on more quickly once the match is finished or settle in for a longer session? Either way, in the lead up to game days keep an eye out for promotional offers from suppliers that will help you keep costs low and maximise the profitability of your sporting occasions.