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Technology is having a big impact on the pub sector

Technology is disrupting the pub and licensee sector. New technologies are changing the way that people visit and use pubs. It is also changing the ways in which pubs are being run and managed – technology is even changing the way that pubs brew and store beer.

Customers demand technology in their pubs

Although we are still a long way away from pubs that will take your order automatically, accelerating technology change has had a big impact on both sides of the bar. In a 2015 survey, 52% of people reported that technology improved customer experience in pubs and bars. That figure rose to 67% for the 24-35 age group making technology a necessity for young metropolitan pubs. Technology has always been a draw for customers. But the quality of the technology now needs to be much higher if it is still going to impress. Think about the humble Sky HD box. This piece of kit has been around for years now, but high-definition football is still a big draw for some customers. Similarly, having free Wi-Fi in pubs can attract individuals who might want to check emails in the afternoon. As well as those who want to check their Facebook feed over a cold pint with friends. But now people expect more. Pubs can attract passing foot traffic if they provide free-to-use charging ports and plug sockets for customers. Pubs in high footfall areas like near train stations will be impressed by how many additional customers this simple measure brings in. Free plug sockets and powerful Wi-Fi is also a good way of attracting a different class of customer who might want to sit and work through the afternoon or hold a casual meeting on your premises. The next big thing for hospitality venues is likely to be wireless phone charging facilities. These eliminate some of the security concerns associated with phone charging. And can be a draw for people who don’t carry a charger with them all the time. McDonalds has already announced that they will start offering wireless phone charging ports in 50 of their restaurant locations. Soon, we can expect to see these wireless charging stations in all the major high street coffee shops and we think that high-volume pubs will not be too far behind. It’s also not just what’s on the inside that’s changing. How people book their hospitality venues and decide where to go is changing too. Websites like Design My Night allow people to find, review and book nights from one handy platform.

Technology is also changing the way pubs are run

Technology isn’t just affecting customer experiences. It’s also making things more enjoyable for people on the other side of the bar. Every bartender and stock controller will know the benefits of digital payment systems like EPOS. These retail systems improve sales, stocking and re-ordering. They also help speed up transactions which is beneficial to that bar and the customer. An example of where this technology is improving is through things like contactless payments and Apple Pay. This new mode of payment lets money change hand quickly and cleanly. It also improves transaction times and limits the negative impact on a busy bar. But technology is changing in different ways too. Recently the Morning Advertiser revealed what it described as the ‘Tinder for licensees,’ which matches pubs up with local street food vendors interested in a more permanent residence. With the microbrewing trend now well and truly established in pubs, the technology is catching up. So much so that you can now buy automatic brewing machines like Brewbot, which uses sensors to monitor the brewing process and can be controlled from your smartphone. ‘Smart kegs’ seem to be on the horizon as well. In the United States, the iKeg system collects information about what it is storing and relays this to the pub manager through a cloud-based mobile app. Sensors can work out how quickly the liquid is being drunk and so can also help to automate re-ordering and post to Twitter or Facebook when a particular brew is about to run out. Utility Helpline is part of Sidney Phillips Ltd. We work with hundreds of pubs and pubcos helping them reduce their energy spend by, in part, using technology to cut consumption. For more information please call: 0800 043 0423.

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