Winning Ways: Longboat Inn, Penzance

In awarding the Best Marketed Pub title to The Longboat Inn in Penzance, the judges were particularly impressed by the hard work of Martyn, Lynda and their staff.  The panel also loved The Longboat Inn’s unique offering, which includes its very own 16 seat cinema and conference facility. Competition from the other 1,343 pubs in the Star Pubs & Bars' estate was stiff, so what’s the secret of The Longboat’s success? We asked Martyn and Lynda for their top tips.

1 Know Your Market – “When we took over twelve years ago, the pub had a reputation as a bit of a ruffians’ place but we knew the people of Penzance would support a proper pub that did more than pull pints. All we had to do was create the right offer and tell people about it!”

2 Make the most of your location – “To create the right offer, we began by looking at our location. We’re opposite a large shopping centre and the railway station, whilst the ferry terminal is also nearby. Good access to these facilities, and our proximity to West Cornwall’s tourist attractions, meant we could cater for the local, tourist and business markets.”

3 Get the basics right – “You can’t market what you don’t have, so we always make sure we have what our key customer groups want. For business people we offer free Wi-Fi in our 17 en-suite rooms, for locals we have regular events such as quiz nights and film shows and for everyone we offer home cooked meals from breakfast onwards.”

4 Go the extra mile – “Many pubs have great offers, so we have to do what we can to stand out. For example, when the local Tourist Information office closed, we started a left luggage service. The £2 charge doesn’t make a huge difference to turnover but that’s not the point. What matters is this simple service gives customers a reason to choose The Longboat Inn over our competitors.”

5 Try to find something unique – “We’re very lucky to have the space for our own cinema, which we can also use as a small conference centre. We charge for the conference facilities but not for films, which we consider to be a way of driving trade by maximising the use of the space. As just a conference centre it would be underused in the evening and as just a cinema it would be redundant during the day. By combining the roles, we get more customers to come more often.”

6 Adapt your offer to the time of year – “Families are very important to us so we offer a free Kids’ Club during the school holidays and use the cinema to show children’s TV shows, cartoons and films.  During the holidays, children can also eat free with every adult meal purchased.”

7 Make the most of the internet – “We advertise our letting rooms through the big booking websites such as booking.com and trip-advisor. We also use our own website, Facebook page and Twitter account to let customers know what’s going on at The Longboat.”

8 Don’t be shy – “It’s important to keep people interested, so we are happy to shout about our awards and other news wherever possible. Besides Star Pub Awards, we recently received Platinum Status in the National Loo of the Year Awards, so naturally this went straight onto our website!”

9 Get involved – “I know it’s a cliché but winning is not the main reason for taking part in things like award ceremonies and competitions. Just being nominated for an award creates interest in the pub, so win or lose we always have something to put on our website and tweets.”

10 Make your marketing fun – “With so much advertising and visual marketing assaulting customers' senses, it really helps if you can think of new ways to reach people. I know not everyone can have a giant Oscar statuette outside their own cinema but we also do things like printing our own staff t-shirts, using our own printing machine, with ads for upcoming events.”