How to Prepare Your Business for Large Sports Viewings & Gatherings

Showing live sports: the essential guide to maximising floor space in sports bars and other venues showing televised sports and live events.

Disclaimer: Nothing in this article should be construed as legal or public health advice. Please always consult a knowledgeable professional advisor.

Summer may be over, but the sporting fun is only just getting started. In particular, the World Cup will be kicking off in November. That means leisure and hospitality businesses around the UK can expect football fans to flock to their large-screen TVs.

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What the World Cup means for pubs, bars and restaurants

According to figures from Barclaycard, the last World Cup (2018) boosted customer spending by 5.1%.

Pubs were major beneficiaries of this. For example, when England matches were shown, pub takings increased by almost a third. This is great news for the leisure and hospitality sector, which sorely needs it. There are a couple of points it’s vital to note.

What the World Cup viewers statistics mean in practice

An estimated 5 billion people will tune into the World Cup. In the UK specifically, around a third of the population can be reasonably expected to tune in. The majority of this viewership comes from people wanting to see England games. This means that the extent to which businesses in the UK benefit from the World Cup is likely to be linked directly to England’s performance.

What the date change could mean for pubs, bars and restaurants

Currently, ‘When is the World Cup?’ is getting quite a lot of search traffic. This suggests that quite a few people are aware that the World Cup is due to start soon. They are just not quite clear on when. Realistically, when the event is close to kicking off, the media will make sure that everyone knows about it.

This means that lack of awareness of games is unlikely to be an issue. On the other hand, the change from summer to autumn/winter could pose challenges. In the UK, summer is generally a time when people are quite happy to be outdoors for extended periods. If anything, they are more interested in shade and cold drinks than heating.

In autumn and winter, by contrast, the weather is often cold, windy or wet. This does not rule out the use of outdoor seating. But it does mean that businesses need to think carefully about how to ensure that customers are protected from the elements.

How to maximise indoor and outdoor seating for viewing

Pubs, bars and restaurants advertising big-screen viewings for pay-per-view events are likely to find their customer numbers increase. People will be eager to find places that can offer a great view of the key games.

Being able to make the most of your indoor and outdoor space for larger gatherings is key. If your seating is flexible, you can accommodate different seating arrangements. By using furniture that can be easily moved, you can reconfigure your seating area for bigger groups.

Remember the need for heat

If you’re planning to use outdoor seating, think about how to keep people warm. This is essential to keeping them happy. The first step to keeping people warm is keeping them dry. It’s therefore great if you can rig up a temporary shelter. If that’s not possible, see if you can provide large, free-standing umbrellas so people have protection from the rain.

Ideally, have outdoor heaters. Realistically, these may be too big an investment for a relatively short-term event like the World Cup. You can offer blankets. If need be, take a deposit against their safe return.

Definitely make it clear what facilities people can expect from you. As long as people know this in advance, they’ll prepare accordingly. Remember, your customers may already be used to standing on terraces at the coldest time of the year.

Success is all about the atmosphere

During major events like the World Cup, most of your customers are going to be invested in the action to some extent. Leverage this to build engagement. At a minimum, put up some affordable decorations such as bunting and flags. Consider running some themed events such as quiz nights, which can be great ways to get people through your doors between matches.

At the same time, make sure that everything stays reasonably orderly. Ideally therefore, get people to their tables quickly. The best way to do this is to have at least one member of staff dedicated to crowd control. That staff member’s job should be to get people in and seated quickly. At the same time, they should still make all customers feel welcome.

Once you have your customers seated, keep them in their seats as much as possible. There are two steps to doing this: the first is to make sure that their needs are attended to as quickly and efficiently as possible, and the second is to keep them entertained while they do have to wait.

Speeding up service

When major games are on, it’s all hands on deck and full steam ahead. In other words, bring in all the staff you can and help them out with technology. If you’re thinking about implementing QR ordering, you probably still have time to do it. Even if you do miss out on the start of the World Cup, you can have it in place for later games and the festive season.

Be on top of your payments game. Consider investing in at least one Square Terminal. Square Terminal solution is affordable, easy to set up and straightforward to use. It allows staff to take payments quickly, accurately and with minimal contact. What’s more, it works both online and offline. That means an internet outage won’t send your business into disarray on a busy night.

Bring in the crowds

An online digital booking system does more for a business than managing bookings. It also acts as a useful customer database for information. This can then be used to influence marketing.

Letting people know live sporting events will be televised at a certain venue has the potential to draw in a lot of customers. This is especially likely if the venue is showing matches that are behind paywalls.

Social media is your ally when it comes to getting the message spread as far and wide as possible. Connect also with local influencers who can share news of your events with a wider audience.

Even something as simple as advertising televised sports on Facebook, Instagram or other social media networks can help to boost your business. It lets as many people as possible know where to go when they want to watch the Wimbledon final, the Olympics or any other global sporting event.