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How to add entertainment to your pub experience

Getting Started

What can I do to increase the number of people coming to my pub, the length of time they stay, and the amount they spend while they’re here? It’s a question on most pub operators’ or licensees’ minds.

With 37% of British adults visiting pubs once a fortnight, and 9% reflecting that they visit a pub once a week according to a recent Statista survey*, how can you make sure your pub is on the shortlist when people are considering what to do, where to go, and how to spend their money?

There are a lot of creative ways to get more people through your door. Let’s take a look at entertainment. It’s one of the things that successful operators do to create a more attractive pub experience at different times during the week.

The business case for entertainment.

Creating more reasons to visit, beyond great drinks, delicious food, and a quality service will no doubt boost your bottom line. Particularly if you have quieter days or evenings that could do with more footfall. With customers looking for experiences and occasions when deciding if and where to go out, hosting entertainment can serve to satisfy demands and create a livelier atmosphere at the pub. And that’ll help strengthen your pub’s position and profile within the community.

We caught up with one of our great Just Add Talent operators, Felix at The Two Bridges in London. He’s spearheading entertainment at his pub, seeing it as one of the core strengths of his longer-term sustainable business plan. In addition to showing a range of sports and hosting weekly events, according to Felix, “we can now punctuate our quarters and our years with specific events that we can run every year. And really big up those events on social.”

Tailor the experience.

With entertainment, you’re tapping into people’s passions. Whether it’s sport, music, board games or comedy, or more, providing entertainment for people and creating a space for people to meet other people who share their passions, is extremely valuable. I’m sure we all recognise how easy it is to feel disconnected from our passions as we go through the week!

“This is the community living room. So, this is where everyone comes to kind of meet each other. And we're here to facilitate that. That's the main thing.”

Of course, every pub is different. But if you want to explore how you can introduce more entertainment, start by doing your research. Evaluate your customers, the community around you, and the types of entertainment offered by pubs and bars in the area. Take a look on the internet, out in the community and on social media to see what’s popular in your area.

For The Two Bridges, Felix needed to create reasons for his office worker regulars to stay in central London after work. And look for occasions to attract people to the pub from across the city. Having spoken to people and observed hospitality trends, he recognised that people were looking for events. They were looking for things to do when they choose to stay out or specifically go out for after working from home. He and his team has focused on music, sport and comedy primarily, offering events that could punctuate peoples’ weeks.

In terms of sport, having a big enough space at The Two Bridges means his team can show sport without it dominating the pub experience. Being able to show a few different sports and cover all major sporting tournament enables the pub to cater to different tastes and attract different customers.

The Two Bridges is a fantastic two-story venue, meaning it is perfect for hosting entertainment nights. Felix works with UK Open Mic community, listing the pub on UK Open Mic night website, Eventbrite and social media channels to increase visibility and promotion. Working with an established community means the evenings are organised according to the set format. No surprises or additional organisation! There are a few different communities out there, so just gauge what’s the most popular in your area. Currently, Felix has two Open Mic nights each week – every Monday and Friday – and appetite for the nights remains strong.

Get creative with the entertainment.

There are so many options when it comes to entertainment. From weekly events to tapping into community, local or national events, there’s something for every operator to consider. Here are just a few that are successful with some of our current operators:

  • Open Mic sessions
  • Pub Quizzes
  • Sporting events
  • Comedy nights
  • Sip and Paint sessions
  • Singles’ nights
  • Bingo nights
  • Board Games tournaments

Make the most of the opportunity.

If you’ve put effort into organising entertainment, don’t fall at the final hurdle. Clear communication and promotion of the entertainment and key events is critical. Once you’ve got your plan in place, here are a few tips to help make it a success:

  • Promote the entertainment within the bar.
  • Communicate with your team and make sure they’re promoting the entertainment throughout the week.
  • Use social media to market the entertainment and key events. And boost any promotions with a little budget to target people in your local area.
  • Leverage established communities like UK Open Mic.
  • Wrap around food and drinks offers to the entertainment.

Ultimately, what’s the point?

According to Felix, the point of including entertainment as part of the pub experience is pretty fundamental.

“This is going to keep us relevant, keep us full. And that's ideally what we want.”

To consider investing or hosting entertainment in your pub, the best thing to do is discuss it with your BDM, your staff, and your regulars. They’ll give you great insight and can act as a sounding board for any ideas. Because the success of any pub entertainment really depends on your pub, the location, and the community around you.

The Two Bridges is just one of the pubs on our Just Add Talent, management agreement. Check out our operator Felix’s full story here.

About Just Add Talent Check out available Just Add Talent pubs