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When occasion demands - Ed’s letter


Time was, when the occasion for a frosty glass of something was dictated by the clock. Small hand past five? Don’t mind if I do. Times have changed, as the increase in sales of no-alcohol drinks can attest, and our livers rejoice, but what does this mean for wet-led outlets, other than a rethink over what’s in the fridge?

Data this month from CGA by NIQ found that there was still enthusiasm for getting out of the house and getting a few down - if occasion demands it. Or, as Jonathan Jones, CGA’s managing director, UK and Ireland, said, when “given a good reason to do so”.


This summer has seen a number of reasons, most notably the Ashes series, where all-day outdoor drinking has been embraced, both alcoholic and less so. As CGA by NIQ commented, the return of the Premier League has delivered a seasonal boost.


But in the current climate of evolving habits and pinched purses, pubs and bars will have to start thinking more like destination management companies. The hotel sector has been joining the dots on this in recent years, as the need to drive ancillary revenue and not just look to heads in beds has bitten.


Hotels have been encouraged to come up with special events, driven by happenings in their locale or of the traditional sporting variety. They have been encouraged to think about the SMERF. In this case less blue and more standing for:


Social

Military

Educational

Religious

Fraternal


Or other reasons people might wash up in hotels. What are known as ‘orphan markets’ - not as natty as the cold pressed coffee posse, but often more loyal.


Pubs are used to the idea of putting on a pub quiz (sadly now requiring additional policing due to the advent of smart phones) but they can also look to pick up the slack where others may have fallen by the wayside. Issues around noise and property prices have cost many music venues their licences - alongside the pandemic - creating a possible return for the pub knees up.


Another thieveable idea from the hotel sector is the loyalty programme. It may feel a little like something the local coffee house has to do, but when people are considering whether they should stay in or go out, the promise of reward is an attractive one.


An occasion? Maybe not, but in this environment, saving money is just the sort of event to stick in the mind.


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