Why do some pubs pull in more patrons, and have a higher average spend per patron than others? Could the answer be in clever design?

As with any venue, if patrons feel welcomed and comfortable then they’re likely to frequent more often and stay longer – thereby spending more. So how do you make your venue more enticing than your competitors? Here are our top tips, and best of all they don’t have to break the bank.

Branding – make you brand clear and enticing. The brand of your venue should reflect your tone and style, and be the welcome to your venue. Each element to your brand should be reflected in every aspect of your venue – the bar, dining area, exterior, website, social media sites. Each element should work in unison, have the same look feel, colour palette and tone so people understand what your brand means, and you develop brand equity.

Entry – make the entry welcoming, uncluttered and clear and make it easy for patrons to come inside. Ensure your staff are positioned close enough to the entry to welcome patrons, if they’re welcomed they’re more likely to stay. If they’re ignored, they may choose to leave.

Parking – plenty of off street parking is key to ensuring patronage, if you’re limited, offer a courtesy bus service. Review how far afield your clients are travelling from to ensure your courtesy bus services meet your market need. A quick survey asking patrons what suburb they live in when they order is a good litmus test. Your POS system may be able to capture this data to make analysis easy.

Layout/flow – your pub layout should flow so patrons can move freely between different areas, and can find everything they need. Layout and flow is critical to patron comfort. Ensure patrons can comfortably get to and from the bar service areas and this area isn’t also a thoroughfare for wait staff. Ensure your staff can service your dining area easily without interfering with seated patrons. Restrooms should be accessible and functional.

Gaming – gaming areas should be segmented off to protect the remainder of the venue from light and noise, and staff appointed to specifically manage these patrons. Comfortable chairs, good gaming machines which are well maintained and updated regularly, and technology such as TITO will make it easy for Gamers to frequent your venue and keep them coming back. Look after your gamers, and keep them well serviced, they’re worth a lot to your business.

Fixtures – in your dining area, square and rectangular dining tables are better than round as they can be pushed together for larger reservations, and smaller tables give more flexibility as they can service as little as 2 people or join together to cater for large groups. Comfortable chairs will ensure patrons stay longer in your venue. Avoid cold hard surfaces and straight backed chairs, and ensure any fittings are well maintained. Table legs should be adjustable to allow for uneven floors. Make sure the seat and table/counter height is compatible, with at least 15-20cm space between. Ensure your furniture and fittings are commercial quality as it will last and look good for longer.

Bar Design – The design of your bar can greatly impact your bottom line. A linear bar is faster to work, and gives bar staff optimal face to face time with guests. Horseshoe and oval shaped bars require constant movement on the bartender’s part to give good service to guests, and they’re the most labour intensive, requiring more bar tenders during peak business hours to provide the same level of service, they’re also the most difficult in which to adequately position equipment and inventory. That said, curved counters tend to be more appealing than straight lines, so you may attract more patrons. Mirrored walls behind the bar have two advantages – it lightens the space, gives patrons the opportunity to see behind them without turning around, and enables bartenders to keep an eye on patrons while mixing drinks. In any respect form should follow function, and the space should be workable for staff as well as appeal to patrons.

Mood – Creating a mood in a venue is very important to ambience. Mirrors are an inexpensive way to transform and lighten a small space, and a variety of pendant lighting and wall lighting creates a great atmosphere and softens a space. If they’re not in your budget, table candles are a great way to create the atmosphere you’re after, just ensure they’re housed into lanterns for safety. Paint colour is an inexpensive way to change the mood of any venue, and wallpaper is a great way to cleverly transform a space to give it character – and it’s very on-trend. Every successful venue has something different for patrons to remember – known as the Wow factor. Does your venue have one? Keep this in mind when reviewing your venue.

Small changes can make a big difference to how patrons perceive your venue. Look at competitive venues and see if there’s something they’re offering that you are not, it could be small changes could bring patrons back and keep them staying for longer.

If we can assist you with reviewing your venue, please contact your hotels specialist advisor for a confidential discussion today.