By Paul Leybourne, Head of Sales at Vodat International
It’s a sad fact that the pub, for so long the centre of British life, is coming under increasing threat, besieged by soaring costs and squeezed by shifting consumer behaviour. This unforgiving environment causes an average of 15 pubs to cease trading every week, with numbers plummeting from 60,000 in 2000 to fewer than 50,000 in 2015.
The demise of the pub isn’t carved in stone yet, however. By harnessing the appropriate tech and the right digital network backbone, publicans can create truly customer-focused experiences, transforming their businesses by giving customers what they really want – perfect beer and unprecedented connectivity.
Harnessing the power of social
Pubs have always been the social hub of the local community- a place where people meet, socialise and share news. In modern times however, this role has been usurped by social media – but that doesn’t mean publicans can’t use technology to tap into this trend. Great customer Wi-Fi enables customers to keep their social media timeline up to date and also gives them the opportunity to share the great customer experiences they are having on your premises with an unprecedented audience. Time spent using on-premises Wi-Fi also directly translates to longer on-premises dwell time, giving publicans increased opportunities to sell.
It’s time for pubs to get personal
It now makes great commercial sense to collect customers’ personal details during the Wi-Fi sign-up process. This opens a treasure trove of data collection opportunities, including tracking how often customers visit a premises, for how long and also the websites and apps they use while logged in. Armed with this information, publicans can target customers with personalised promotions and discounts via email and online loyalty schemes to boost both spend and repeat custom. Repeat custom is especially valuable as regular customers are known to spend up to 67% more than new ones. Research also shows that half of consumers are willing to share personal data if it means they receive tools helping them make better buying decisions.
The power of beacon-based marketing
Pubs are often located in prime positions with high footfall. The beauty of beacon-based marketing is that customers can be automatically sent pop-up messages to their smartphones when they are nearby. These messages can be a simple notification of offers and promotions taking place or, with the right data, they can be personalised to the individual. For example, offering a customer a free drink on their birthday as they walk past.
Customers must download a beacon-based app and sign up to the scheme, giving some personal data in the process, but customers are generally willing to do this as long as they are promised real value in return.
Beacon-based marketing can also help enhance traditional loyalty programmes by sending up-to-date loyalty point reminders to customers. This function can be particularly valuable as customers are often unaware of the exact number of points they have accumulated.
Next generation pub entertainment
Gone are the days when a conventional jukebox and pool table were the height of pub entertainment. Modern juke boxes put millions of music tracks at customers’ fingertips via a free play or credit system that they can access and queue tracks from their smartphone. The customer-facing juke box apps that make this possible dovetail with Wi-Fi login and loyalty schemes. Add to this state-of-the art 4K Ultra HD television, with directional surround sound for big sporting occasions and publicans can raise entertainment to a new level making their pub a standout venue.
Digitised pub management
The benefits of so-called smart bar technology may not be immediately noticeable to the paying public, but it can nevertheless transform pub operations.
Solutions such as Vianet’s iBar, for example, give publicans all the business-critical data they need, beamed straight to their mobile phone or tablet via Wi-Fi, helping them streamline their business. Smart bar management systems provide data on cellar conditions such as temperature, logs line clearing dates, average pour yields and the temperature at which beer enters the customer’s glass.
Armed with such data, publicans can harness the power of predictive analytics, enabling them to accurately forecast the correct numbers of products to order ahead of major trading occasions, such as this year’s Rugby World Cup, as wells as more accurate staff scheduling. Such developments put greater efficiency and profitability within the reach of a vital segment of the hospitality sector, which is crying out for a lifeline during difficult times.
Vodat offers the solutions to ensure your hospitality business is fully connected and your network is scalable, flexible and can be fully managed with 24/7 service and technical support. Get in touch to find out how we can help you grow and protect your business.