“Pubs offer a different experience,” says Dominic Lavan of Pub Tokens, “Some people are more comfortable in a pub setting and pubs have a number of benefits: they tend to be sociable, informal environments where people can relax; they have different areas, such as the bar and the dining area, for people to move in and around; and they come in many forms, from family pub, to country inn to gastro pub.
“A pub presents a much more flexible, socially fluid environment, designed to help people socialise with each other, which makes them a much better setting than restaurants for events such as a team night out.”
Dominic Lavan, managing director of Pubtokens.com, which supplies gift vouchers and works with pubs across the UK, says there is a need to make sure that the original offer is profitable, because the customers who are attracted through heavy discounting will dine out elsewhere depending on the best offer.
Lavan says: “Once consumers get used to eating for half price, it is very difficult for them to switch back to paying full price and so long as pubs and restaurants continue to offer these promotions there are a growing number of consumers who may be lost entirely as full-value customers. I am not convinced that these consumers are suddenly going to revert to previous behaviours once the economic outlook improves.”
Pubtokens gift vouchers service attracts 250 more pubs
Pubtokens, a service that provides gift vouchers for use across the UK pub market, has added 250 more pubs to the scheme, taking the total number of redeeming outlets to nearly 1,400.
Participating managed pub chains include Greene King, JW Lees, Marston’s, Shepherd Neame, Daniel Thwaites and Young’s, as well as a growing number of freehouses, tenanted and leased pubs, according to Pubtokens managing director Dominic Lavan. “We targeted the big boys initially to get critical mass,” said Lavan. “But we’re looking to partner with more and more pubs of all types all the time, so that when someone receives a Pubtoken they will always have a pub round the corner at which to redeem it.”
Marston’s is the latest pub company to sign up to a voucher scheme designed solely for use in the on-trade.
Pub Tokens, which come in £10 and £20 denominations, will now be redeemable in 90 managed Marston’s pubs as well as at other companies including Greene King, Young’s and Thwaites.
The first ever voucher scheme designed for use solely across the on-trade is set to be launched next month – and pubs are being urged to get involved.
Pub companies Greene King, Young’s, Thwaites and Hall & Woodhouse have already signed up. Their pubs will be among more than 1,000 outlets where the tokens can be used when the scheme launches on November 12.
Dominic Lavan, managing director of the company behind the new scheme, Pub Tokens, said it will allow pubs to cash in on the £3.2bn spent on gift vouchers every year in the UK. “This is an opportunity for the first time for the on-trade to have a multiple retailer scheme,” he said. “And it gives consumers another option rather than buying vouchers for the high street.” Customers will be able to buy vouchers from the Pub Tokens website in £10 and £20 denominations. These can be spent on food, drink and accommodation at pubs listed on the site. Pubs then redeem the vouchers with Pub Tokens. There are no up-front costs for pubs that join the scheme.
For pubs taking part it is a way of attracting new trade, Lavan said. “These are a great gift for Anniversary, Valentine’s Day, birthdays or any other occasion, and it encourages people back in the pub for special occasions,” he said. “People will not only redeem the vouchers but they are always going to be inclined to up-spend in cash while they are in there. If we are going to compete with the high street we have to have a scheme supported by a wide variety of pub operators.”