So my last post covered off why, as a consumer, I want to tap into the experience economy. I realised when writing it that I don't go to the pub much at all these days and I wondered why that was? After all, it was one of the things we missed while we were living in France - the unique experience that is the British pub. I've yet to find a really good pub on my doorstep in Ashford and I feel disappointed about this, as I want to support this very British institution. There are plenty of outstanding pubs in Kent and further field but they're destination pubs that you go to for something to eat and need a few hours out of your day.
Back to our neighbourhood, and one or two of the pubs we've frequented within a five minute drive are pretty mediocre. Lacking in atmosphere, bar staff that look like they don't care, the same old drinks offer, the same old pub grub - it's all just a bit uninspiring. I've no doubt that the great pub experience that we know exists is close at hand, we just haven't found it yet! Which begs the question what does a great pub experience consist of?
For me, it's a lot to do with the people behind the bar. Do they offer a warm welcome and make you feel at home? Do they know their drink and food offer like the back of their hand? Can they guide you through an interesting choice of craft ales , wines or spirits depending on your preference? Do they have an exciting alcohol-free drink offer for those of us that don't want to fill up on coke or lemonade? Are they passionate about what they are offering? If they're excited then you can bet the customer will feel enthusiastic too. It all boils down to how well the licensee trains their staff to ensure they've got the knowledge they need to communicate confidently with customers. If they serve food, does it use fresh, seasonal ingredients, presented in an interesting way and cooked well. Perhaps they have a USP, a particular dish or style of food that they do well.
These days, a pub has to be more than just a place to go and drink a pint in the evening. So, are they making the most of all of the opportunities there are to visit a pub - great coffee for a daytime hook up with friends or business associates, brunches for weekends, an after-school offer for the mums and dads who are weary of catering for their offspring and want a break from the kitchen?
Then you can consider things like the pub itself, is it clean and comfortable? Does it have that wholesome, authentic pub feel or stand-out décor that you can post on your Instagram feed? Does it tell a story about the pub's building? Are the toilets inviting (perhaps one of the most important things in a drinking establishment)? All of these things make your visit a more enjoyable experience.
So, if you're a pub landlord and the answer to these questions is 'yes', then you've gained our attention and interest. But how do you engage us and make us want to come back for more. This is where those added value experiences come in.....perhaps you've opted for positioning yourself as a pub game mecca - a pool table, ping-pong, a dart board, maybe even a shuffleboard just to mix things up a bit? So, you can run tournaments and themed nights to entice your customers back Maybe you're more of a quizzer, or pride yourself on being a craft ale afficionado then a tasting session or a beer and food pairing evening hosted by a local brewer might be your thing. Whatever you do, do it well and it's the kind of thing that might just attract some new footfall from those experience-hungry consumers.
Finally don't forget social media, there are some really dynamic operators out there. One great example, is a local coffee house, who do weekly promotions to win a week's worth of free coffee by encouraging their customers to post pictures on Instagram of them enjoying their coffee in their outlets. It works on so many levels. Encourages repeat visits, generates third party content on the coffee company's social media feed, encourages interactions between customer and coffee house and so on. Tick, tick, tick.
I know there are many great pub operators out there doing some or all of these things, I just wish one of them was my local.
Clare Pope, always has her head in a book - current read After the End by Clare Mackintosh