A friendly atmosphere and quality food are the two key factors when it comes to customers choosing a pub, according to a new survey by the Mystery Dining Company (TMDC).
The survey of 350 pubgoers found that the type of clientele a venue attracts was the third-most important consideration.
It also found that two thirds of pubgoers were likely to spend as much time researching a new pub as they would a restaurant before selecting where to eat out.
Sally Whelan, of TMDC, said: "The fact friendliness rated so highly when asking what element makes a great pub really does speak volumes. Pubs, perhaps even more so than restaurants, are about the overall customer experience; that is often a combination of being made to feel welcome as well as feeling as though food and beverages are of a fitting quality, either meeting or defying expectations.
"Consumers are carefully evaluating how and where they are spending their money across all aspects of their expenditure and, therefore, they are applying the same logic as they would their car insurance or electricity bill in choosing where to eat out. Pubs need to be aware that punters are also researching to see how their venue compares to other pubs and indeed restaurants on offer in the same area.
"If potential customers are trying to find out more about your pub then the first thing is to understand what they will be likely to find, and then ask the question about whether it will be enough to encourage them through your doors rather than someone else's."
"Monitoring and participating in social media forums really is becoming an important part of the reputation management and marketing mix for pubs. Our own social advocacy programmes, whereby we collate and analyse feedback generated by genuine customers and help to feed results back through social media channels, has been receiving strong levels of interest from pubs who are looking to up their game in this respect," she said.
The survey suggested that seven out of 10 consumers felt that the standard of customer service received in a pub was of equal importance to that of a restaurant, while 21% found personable and memorable service to be even more important when visiting a pub.
By Neil Gerrard
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