Pub event ideas leaving you scratching your head? From cider showcases and partner takeovers to meal deals and meet-ups, here are our top nine.
Did you know? A beer garden is the British drinker’s preferred place for a pint away from home, according to a new opinion poll by CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale). Could your pub capitalise on its pint-perfect beer garden with our marketing plan?
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Pub event ideas (our top 9)
1 Themed nights
It’s an oldie but a goodie, especially if you go with something topical or seasonal. Maybe a strawberries & cream party with Wimbledon on the big screen? Or a cider showcase with a Glastonbury playlist request night? Check out our 5 tips to drive more business to your pub this summer.
Whatever you go for, keep it light, easy to deliver and festive. Punters love a reason to congregate, especially if there’s a deal to enjoy.
2 Partner up
Which local brands are in sync with what you do? Do you have a similar clientele? If so, partnering up can be a great way to pass business to and fro. For example, you might have a local butcher who could advertise steak night for you, and supply the produce.
Work up a simple, eyecatching flyer, stash them prominently on the bar, and get your partner to do the same. Don’t forget to mention the event to your punters, and hand out free product samples from your partner.
You’re still partnering up, but a takeover usually involves hosting another like-minded business in your pub for a limited period, or at least their product.
This can work nicely with a particular brewery or brand, as it gives them a platform and you a ready-made fanbase or following to tap into. Do you like a particular British vineyard for example? Could you get them in to offer samples and cover the wine list for a weekend?
It doesn’t have to be pool or table football, or the classic pub quiz (although old favourites definitely have their value). The important thing here is to get a sense of your customers and what they like doing, and build a competition around them.
If it takes off, give it a regular slot or make it an annual highlight. A great pub with a brilliant quiz can take you a long way by word of mouth, especially on quiet nights of the week.
5 Meal deals
The classic is a set menu, or kids eating for free, but you can get as inventive as you like with this straightforward tactic.
If you’re keen to try our partner or takeover ideas above, look at joining forces with a local brand. A free local cheese board with every bottle of red wine, for example, or 2-for-1 steaks from your local farmer.
Speaking of local, why not reward your customers for choosing your most locally sourced options? We’ve seen a couple of ‘locivore’ points cards popping up for customers who go for the local beer, for example.
6 Throw a birthday party
Been open a year? 50? 100? Throw a party for your punters, partners and local suppliers, keeping things fun but simple. Food carts, hog roasts, prosecco taps and raffles all work well for one big event, and you can get creative without over-complicating things.
7 …or someone else’s
Even better, get known for hosting amazing parties.
If you’ve got a space that’s geared up for it (separate, but still part of the fun, maybe with its own bar), and are equipped with enough staff, music tech, catering options, event insurance etc, hiring out for parties can be a great earner. It also introduces lots of new people to your pub, who’ll hopefully come again.
8 Family-friendly stuff
Depending on your licence, during the day, pubs can be a great place for families to meet up, especially if you have an open area or safe beer garden.
It’s not for every pub, and you may decide that regular customers won’t be too happy about kids running about or babies crying (which they will!) But if your pub is popular with families and there’s a suitable space, holding a new parent meet-up or kids pizza-making in the garden gets people in, buying drinks and coming back for more.
Equally, pubs give frazzled parents a great venue for a night off. Offer 2-for-1 drinks on your own ‘tired parent night’ and get known for providing a sympathetic space. 2-for-1 drinks on NCT or new mum/dad group meet-ups, for example, could really make your pub a destination point.
Finally, speaking of meet-ups, make your pub a beeline hit.
From fishing and cycling to the local vintage car enthusiast group, market out your pub as the meet-up spot of choice with subsidised fish and chips, for example. Easy to plan and cater for, but again, a way of getting people in and aware of your pub.
Pub marketing ideas
Here’s a quick round-up – check the list above for more.
You’ll know best which platform works for you and your customers. Instagram is simple to use, popular with lots of different groups, and makes a visual impact, as is Facebook.
Pubs will need a business profile and someone to keep it updated with lots of eye-catching, current content and event details. They’ll also need to answer and direct messages and comments, complaints or feedback.
A monthly or quarterly email newsletter can be a great way of keeping in touch with your customers, supporting any events you have on and sending out offers and summer marketing campaigns.
Make sure you know your data protection responsibilities though, if you’re collecting email addresses.
Check out our events tips above, and collaborate on the marketing to make the most of the new fans you’ll both acquire. Design a flyer and hand them out in both locations, doing the same digitally on social media too.
No event planned? Visit all the local companies and brands you work or share a customer base with, and discuss opportunities for co-marketing. If you’re stocking their products, have some information on your menu or their branded materials to hand. In turn, they can advertise your pub as a recommended partner in their guide book or notice board, etc.
From dining and lifestyle magazines to town guides and radio, these often have lots of space for advertising. It depends on your budget and you’ll need to create a professional advert, but paid-for advertising space does work for lots of pubs.
Google search and reviews
The world has moved on and nine times out of ten, people will search online for an immediate idea of good pubs, bars and beer gardens in their area.
Get in a trusted pub guide
From The Good Pub Guide to the AA Pub Guide, CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide, countless walkers guide books, boutique pub/b&b lists and more, there are lots of well-used sites and books to get your pub listed in.
You’ll need to impress an adjudicator and earn your pub’s quality stripes, but a profile in one of these can get all sorts of visitors through the door, from wedding guests needing a place to stay/eat to beer enthusiasts and holiday-makers.
Be known for something
It might sound obvious but having a niche or unique quality can get your name far and wide.
Whether it’s the friendliest staff in the UK, local-only produce, a world-famous dish or historical feature, or just being truly family-friendly, get known for something. It gives you the perfect starting point for all your marketing and event ideas.
Word of mouth
We’ve saved the most important for last, and it really is the make-or-break tactic. It’s no good having an incredible chef and menu, if service isn’t great and your customers tell their friends. And trust us, they will.
When it comes to pubs, positive word of mouth is vital. One bad anecdote can knock whole WhatsApp groups, families and loyal customers off your books. Keep your reputation squeaky clean, and address all issues quickly and respectfully.
A drink on the house is a small price to pay, if you’re in danger of losing a great punter, or five.
Insurance, health and safety
Before you get going, make sure you’re clear on your legal responsibilities, from pub insurance (you’ll almost definitely need employers’ liability insurance, by law) and pub-specific health and safety, to holding correct licenses.
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