Why pub landlords are great innovators

If you are innovative and open to new ideas, then being a pub landlord could be your ideal career move.  Successful pub landlords are great innovators, always looking for new opportunities to promote their businesses, appeal to new markets and increase their profits.

There are ways you can innovate in your pub without needing the level of investment a distillery requires. Heidi Lane, of the Crown & Anchor in Eastbourne, has adopted a very different approach by sponsoring the local university sports teams. 

She comments “I have a strong belief that a pub is part of its local community and I have set about making sure that we are actively involved in local life. I realised that there were many university students nearby and decided that I could encourage them to use the pub by sponsoring their sports teams. Everything from boxing to rugby – even the cheerleaders!” 

Where the teams go for a drink, other students invariably follow.  It creates a lively atmosphere, a regular clientele and a constant topic of conversation.

Spotting Opportunities For Innovation In Your Pub Business

Pub landlords are in a great position to innovate.  They are constantly talking to their customers and hearing what they want.  As part of the community they notice local trends, and have the opportunity to develop innovative ideas that will appeal to their customers. 

Pubs don’t just have to pull pints. Landlords like Patrick Fisher are innovating by expanding their offering to include gin distilleries and microbreweries to meet customer demand for different experiences.

While a distillery might not be suitable for you pub, there be other ways you can expand your business and meet customer demand.

Changes In Drinking Habits

Landlords who look for trends can often turn them to their advantage.  One of the most notable changes in recent years has been the fact that younger people are drinking far less than their parents.  There are reports that one in four 16 to 24 years olds do not drink alcohol at all. 

Innovative pub landlords see this as an opportunity rather than a threat to their business.  Young people are still willing to visit pubs - and regard them as a great place to socialise and enjoy a meal – all you have to do is provide them with suitable drinks. 

Nor is it just soft drinks.  Many landlords are beginning to take account of the growing trend for mocktails – cocktails minus the alcohol. The most innovative landlords even create house specials that immediately attract attention and encourage people to try.  As these drinks are more expensive than a plain soft drink, they offer good margins too.

Social Media Innovation

Landlords who are social media savvy often turn this to good account by developing their pub’s social media presence. The Crown & Anchor Eastbourne regularly promotes events such as sports nights and quiz nights on Facebook, encouraging users to post reviews and tell everyone what they think. 

Other landlords are using Instagram – taking pictures of meals or special drinks - and promoting their business on new listing guides on apps and websites.  The big advantage of having an active social media presence is that promotions can be undertaken at short notice if trade is a bit slow – and stand a good chance of attracting the attention of customers.


Pubs have always been a centre of entertainment within a locality.  It is where people have naturally gravitated for a relaxing evening, to meet friends, or enjoy a meal. Pub games such as darts are very much a feature of British pubs.  But why leave it at that?  With the trend towards retro and vintage so strong, providing some old style pub games like dominos can be a talking point, as can board game evenings.  It encourages people to stay longer and provides reasons to visit a pub on quiet weekday nights.

Live music is also a popular draw, and many pubs are holding small local music festivals during the summer months.

Community Hubs

As the experience of the Crown & Anchor proves, becoming a community hub can be extremely beneficial, especially when bringing in people who might not otherwise have visited your pub.  Being inventive and innovative can make a tremendous difference. Many pubs are now filling the gap in their communities by providing local services such as a shop, library, IT hub etc. While these may not directly increase profits, they do encourage people through the door and build a loyal customer base.

So how should landlords approach the subject of innovation in their pubs?  After all it does have to be done carefully since you do not want to upset regular customers.

  • Discuss your ideas with loyal customers and get their feedback and support. If you’ve just taken over a pub, it helps to find out what has been successful before.
  • Keep yourself abreast of trends and new ideas by reading trade publications, attending hospitality trade shows, and exploring what other pubs are doing successfully.
  • Partner with other local businesses. Talk to other local pubs about joint promotions such as beer trails. Get involved with local community events and think about how you can create partnerships with local organisations.
  • Get advice from your Business Development Manager. They have lots of experience to share and can tell you about what other landlords are doing successfully.
  • Think outside the box. Just because you’re running a pub doesn't mean that you can’t also run a microbrewery or a shop as well.
  • Experiment. Trial low cost ideas to see what sticks, keep tweaking the good ones to make them better and more profitable for your business.

Being innovative definitely has considerable trading advantages.  Pub landlords with a taste for innovation can prosper and create a very successful business.  Quite apart from ensuring the success of your business, it is an attitude that will challenge you and provide personal satisfaction. 

Seeing a busy pub, overflowing with customers is a great reward for your innovation!