Close Menu
db Reader

Four tips to help publicans fill their beer gardens this summer

Summer is short-lived in the UK and is often met with bouts of unseasonal rain which is why the public try to make the most of the sunny weather while it is here.

This can mean that venues with gardens or outside seating experience a high volume of customers during the hottest days of the year, but with so many venues competing for the same customers, such as rooftop bars and hipster cafes, how can publicans ensure that their beer gardens are full this summer?

Rob Straathof, CEO at Liberis, gives us his four tips to help publicans stand out this summer and fill their beer gardens:

Win at Social

The way people engage with brands has changed dramatically over the last decade. Social media has replaced customer helplines as people turn to platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to contact and connect with companies. It is important then that brands accept and embrace this change, joining the customers on social media and taking the conversation to them.

Social media is a fantastic tool for publicans to use to update their existing audience on recent news such as the re-opening of the beer garden for the summer: but, it can be used to do more than simply communicate with customers, it can be used to draw them in.

Competitions are a great tool to attract new business, allowing potential customers to find and engage with the brand in an exciting way, and with social media it is easier than ever to reach the masses.

An example of a competition that would inspire urgency would be to offer the prize of a free drink to the first ten people to take a selfie in your beer garden and tagging the pub’s page in the post. You could also create a unique hashtag that entrants will need to include in their post to enter, you can then use this to track entrants. This type of competition would have an immediate affect and would have people sharing pictures on their own social accounts, tagging the pub and widening the reach.

To gain some initial traction you may consider sponsoring the posts for the local area, this will allow people beyond your intermediate network of fans to see your post and join in with the competition.

Although a fantastic business tool, competitions should be used sparingly as they can appear too salesy when used in excess. Meaning you shouldn’t run one every day.

Make an event of it

Summer is the season of festivals which is a great excuse to invite live entertainment into your beer garden. Before you start to panic about the price of hiring entertainers, there are cost effective options that would suit even the smallest of budgets.

You could advertise frequent local acoustic ‘open mic’ nights (or afternoons) which would give local musicians the chance to showcase their talents in front of an audience, and also gives you a means of putting on live entertainment for your patrons for free.

There is the opportunity to charge for tickets, but to ensure that high numbers attend, it is probably best that the events themselves be advertised with free entry and a return be gained in increased drink sales.

To promote these nights create a Facebook events page and invite all your Facebook fans to get the ball rolling. This is time-consuming but eventually the events should attract interest through reputation.

Some establishments take these live events a step further and hold their own festivals. For example, the Vic Pub in Hitchin hosts Vic Fest every year during the summer. This event invites local bands to perform at the pub while offering food, beer and free entertainment to their patrons. It has built a great reputation over the last few years and is always an event the locals look forward to.

Embrace Summer

As seasons change so must the pub. It is true that a frosty pint, at any pub, will go down well all year round, but making some other adjustments to your pub’s offering will make your establishment stand out from the other locals during the hotter season.

When you think of summer do you picture a Sunday roast? Or does the thought of a summer roast cause you to break out in an uncomfortable sweat? It is likely your customers will think the same. Tucking into a large stodgy roast when it is 25°c+ outside will not inspire the appetites of many. If, like most of the British public, that summer feeling is instead brought on by the smell of meat sizzling on hot charcoal, it may be time to make a change to your Sunday carvery option.

Try swapping your carvery for a Sunday barbeque and make it family friendly. Sundays are still traditionally a time for families to have lunch or dinner together, so offering family deals will help persuade them to choose your pub in which to spend their time: offering value for money will give that extra push to convince them to take a trip out instead of hosting their own barbeques at home.

Summer also presents the opportunity to spice up the drinks menu. Introduce original seasonal cocktails to the drinks menu and offer it at a special price during happy hour. Original cocktails also give you the opportunity to create original content.

Sharing videos of the cocktails being made on social media will entice regulars into trying the new addition and will keep your social channels fresh with engaging, seasonal content.

Be a Good Sport

You may already have a TV inside your establishment, on which you show the popular football matches which will draw the regulars inside even on the sunniest of days, but appealing to more than just the football fanatics in a summery environment is guaranteed to draw a larger crowd.

Consider showing sports in the beer garden with a screen and projector. As well as showing football ensure that other sports are shown on the screen. Every summer there’s a great variety of different sporting events on television including Wimbledon, cricket and the Olympics (every four years). Unlike football matches that occur on a weekly basis, these sporting occasions are usually annual or even occur only every 4 years, meaning that they can be turned into an event, rather than just a viewing. Consider hosting a sport bingo, such as the Hertz Wimbledon bingo in 2015.

Creating your own competition doesn’t need to be complicated, a simple bingo sheet that can be shared on social media and with printed copies in the pub, will entice customers to choose your pub to watch the tennis matches. To make the incentive greater, small prizes can be offered for winners of the tennis bingo.

This set up will require some initial investment, as projectors are not cheap, but the return on investment will be great and long lasting. Although the initial aim will be to provide sports in the summer the screen could also be used for winter movie nights as well. A quicker way get the investment needed would be to opt for alternative finance, such as a business cash advance, crowd funding or a non-bank loan option for a business with bad credit.

These ideas, used together or individually if resources are restricted, will let the locals know about your beer garden during the summer and will make it the busiest year yet. If we ever get the weather!

It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No