The pub of the future: the data-driven transformation of a great British institution
Like many fixtures of our lives, Britain's pubs were heavily impacted by COVID-19, with their familiar patrons unable to come in for a post-work drink, or meet with friends at the weekend. But while it was undoubtedly a difficult period for the industry as a whole, this great British institution did as it has always done, and adapted to suit its patrons' evolving requirements.
Resilience and innovation in the face of change
Think back to the late 80's, when more and more homes began acquiring satellite TV, takeouts became both affordable and widely available, and supermarkets offered alcohol at prices pubs could never hope to match… Some argued that this would mark the death of the pub, and that its days as communities' primary hub for socialising and entertainment were over.
But rather than admit defeat, Britain's pubs simply adapted, ensuring they could continue offering an experience that a case of cheap supermarket lager and a takeout pizza could never hope to match, with an increasingly diverse range of food and drinks (including craft beers, artisanal cocktails, and new non-alcoholic options), and child-friendly options available for families.
When we consider all this, it's clear that the pub is far more resilient and adaptable than it is often given credit for. So, with that in mind, what will the pub of tomorrow look like? Well, based on conversations we are having with professionals across the sector, we may already be witnessing its emergence…
The digital journey of the great British pub
Building on the success of the app-based service that was initially rolled out in response to COVID-19, the sector's digital transformation journey shows no signs of slowing down. Many pubs are actively exploring other ways in which technology can enhance their services, utilising the vast amount of data generated by customers ordering through their smart devices.
There is much to be learned here from the wider hospitality and retail sectors, where customer data is increasingly used to deliver truly bespoke experiences - before, during, and after each visit. For example, if patrons routinely order particular items from the menu, or regularly come with young children, this can be quickly identified through the use of AI-based analytics, so tailored special offers and news can be automatically sent to them. For example, someone who orders a particular spirit could receive a discount on the more up-market alternative, or patrons with young families could be notified of any particularly child-friendly events that are coming up.
This is particularly advantageous for pub chains, allowing them to offer truly personalised service at every location in which they operate, so the patron feels completely at home as soon as they walk through the door. This, in turn, will help build familiarity and brand reputation.
Offering a new breed of workspace
With hybrid working now widely adopted and the millennial generation (who typically drink much less than their elders) well-established across the workforce, more and more professionals are used to working on the move… And there's no reason that shouldn't include the pub!
By offering ports for mobile devices, secure, high-quality connectivity, and a range of world-class coffees and breakfast options, owners and landlords can offer professionals - whatever their age, and whether or not they are drinkers - an attractive alternative to coffee shops and workspaces. And, again, the data they generate while doing so can be used to further enhance the service they experience, turning them from first-time visitors to familiar faces.
From the 'pub of the future' to the 'hub of the future'
In many ways, the pub of the future is coming full circle, shifting from a place where people go for a drink to a true community hub, where people of all ages and backgrounds meet to work, socialise, enjoy a meal, and experience a range of quality entertainment. Above all, pubs are people-focused businesses, where the personal touch is just as important as which drinks are available. Far from disconnecting pubs from their patrons, technology offers a rich vein of opportunities to combine next-generation services with old-fashioned hospitality - the best of both worlds.
Don't hesitate toget in touch if you would like to explore these ideas further and explore how Exponential-e can provide the foundation for your own digital transformation, ensuring every element helps provide a better experience for your patrons. We look forward to working with you, and hope to see you down at the pub!
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