2020 vision: Pub & Bar's new year predictions

2020 vision: Pub & Bar's new year predictions

As the on-trade peers into another new year, what are the key operational elements for pub and bar operators to consider in 2020? In no particular order, here are five fundamentals to work on after the festive season.

Quality control

At the end of the year, the Pub & Bar team bought tickets to a Greatest Showman-themed bottomless brunch experience in a west London pub (yes, you read that correctly). While the entertainment was top quality and the mimosas flowed non-stop, the quality of the food was poor – it dented the enjoyment. No matter the occasion, if a customer has come to your venue with the intent of ordering food, make sure you’re happy with every plate that leaves the kitchen (even if it is served alongside 50 drunk women screaming along to ‘This is Me’). The quality of food in the on-trade is being scrutinised more than ever before, with expectations and documentations only set to increase next year. Top class sourcing, sustainability, consistency and aesthetics are where it’s at – make sure you’re ticking all the boxes.

Green with envy

Yeah, yeah… we know that CSR and being environmentally friendly is a hot topic, but should it really dominate operations as much as people say? Yes. The answer is yes. While running a sustainable business can help lower costs, operators should remember that public perception of your set-up is also altered by your green credentials. Based on that perception, in 2020 your pubs and bars are going to be scrutinised more and more when it comes to food sourcing, food waste, plastic use, plant-based meals, energy consumption… the whole lot. High profile chefs are now pioneering the 100% zero-waste business model, meaning that more consumers are aware that it is possible to eat and drink on the high street while supporting these eco warriors behind the pass and lowering their collective carbon footprint. One such restaurant, Silo in east London’s Hackney, has been dubbed the ‘restaurant of the future’ based on its zero-waste approach. Look Silo up and take a peek at what the future may hold.

People power

Some research was sent our way at the end of the year that looked at the mental health of those who work in the hospitality industry – it didn’t paint the prettiest picture. According to the findings, six out of 10 felt lonely in the workplace. What’s more, according to further research carried out by Hospitality Action, 80% of those in the hospitality sector find their job is stressful sometimes or most of the time. However, in the same survey, 56% of respondents thought that employees are more likely to discuss their mental health with employers than previously – this is an encouraging statistic that needs to be built on over the next 12 months. Never before has mental health been so high on the agenda within the UK, so the on-trade has to do its part when looking out for those who work within it. The more you look after your teams, the more likely it is you’ll retain them and their passion for their work, so reach out, ask questions and keep the conversation going.

A healthy outlook

We heard a new term this month – athleisure alcohol. It was a new one for us, but makes total sense for drinkers across cities in the UK. Years ago, Pub & Bar attended a drinks launch for an isotonic, alcohol-free beer that was aimed at athletes who needed a drink that would help with recovery after exercise. Back then, the market wasn’t ready, but next year we could see a real uptake in demand for such products – alcohol-free, CBD, mocktails and the like. Mid-week gym goers who are keen for a drink after a session; five-a-side football teams; parkrun participants… the younger generations are taking their health more seriously, but still need a hospitable environment to socialise in even if their alcohol consumption is less than their predecessors. Beyond drinks, meat consumption is falling (based on health and environmental consciousness), which means pubs and bars need to offer superior plant-based meals alongside top quality meat options. Make sure parts of your menus are looking healthy next year.

Teching the boxes

According to ComScore, 50% of all online searches will be done through voice-activated technology by the start of 2020. Can that be right? Alexa, can you check that stat for us, please? It does sound unbelievable, but this is something that the on-trade should be keeping an eye on. Where are your sites appearing when it comes to customers asking robots for recommendations? Artificial intelligence doesn’t always spring to mind when it comes to running pubs and bars, but there is more of this coming next year through almost every area of your business, so make sure you don’t get left behind. Also, with the new Google Maps view leaving almost no part of the high street hidden, you’re on show 24/7. It may appear dauntingly complex, but tech-based operations and marketing can be an operator’s best friend if managed effectively. Speaking of which, in the US, influencer marketing is predicted to increase to a whopping $10bn in 2020 – will we see more of those influencers trickling into pub marketing budgets next year? You would think so.