It’s no secret that SMEs have faced a strenuous year filled with uncertainty and turbulent times. However, with the government preparing to lift COVID-19 restrictions and summer in full swing, SMEs can now capitalise on the return of live events.
Even though there’s still an enormous amount of uncertainty surrounding some festivals, sporting events and restrictions, there are a few things SMEs can do now to prepare for the unknown in the future.
In this article, we explain how you can make the most of live events this summer — whether they go ahead or not — and explain how merchant cash advances can help sustain your business no matter what may crop up.
Summer Events to Keep an Eye on
The global pandemic has meant that businesses have had to deal with unprecedented difficulty in every aspect of their work. Between temporary closures and ever-changing restrictions, it has been a stormy sea to navigate. Summer 2021, however, seems to be back on track, so it’s time to start planning ahead for what people are predicting to be “the best summer ever”.
With the return of festival season, live football matches, and the re-opening of pubs, shops and restaurants, here’s how you can make the most of these live events — no matter what your business is.
Live Sports Events: The Return of a British Staple
There’s huge anticipation for sport in 2021, with a recent survey among regular pub-going sports fans revealing that 75% of them are excited about this year’s upcoming sport. Furthermore, Brits spend a billion more hours watching sports than actually playing them — it’s ingrained in British culture.
With 1 in 2 sports fans saying that watching sports is what they’re looking forward to the most about returning to pubs this summer, televising sports is a great way to get those cash registers ringing. In fact, the average pub enjoys sales of over £30k from broadcasting live football games.
As communities have missed gathering around screens and watching their favourite teams playing, this summer’s sporting schedule is the perfect opportunity to get Britain back into pubs.
The UEFA Euro Finals
Euro 2020 (rather confusingly taking place in the summer of 2021) is the biggest sporting event to take place since the first lockdown last year. It comes as no surprise that 6.9 million football fans will watch at least one Euros match in a bar or pub — that’s 13% of UK adults.
The finals take place on Sunday 11 July, and regardless of who’s playing, pubs all over the country can expect an incredible turnout. But what can you do to stand out from the crowd?
We’ve put together a Euros must-have list so that pubs and bars can make the most out of this momentous sporting occasion:
1) Euro-themed Deals and Merchandise
Lager tends to do especially well during the Euros, with 80% of Euro 2020 fans considering a pub’s lager range to be important and 74% asking for a specific brand.
Sports consumers, in general, are also willing to spend 7% more per pint or bottle of lager than the average consumer. To capitalise on this trend, invest in your lager stock and create special deals to keep fans coming back for more.
As fans tend to get patriotic during the Euros, handing out flags or incorporating them into your decor is a great way to make your establishment stand out against the competition.
2) Set Up Your Viewing Area
It may seem obvious, but it’s critical that you have enough screens to make the most out of the space you have. Position these in strategic places for optimal viewing and make sure there are no “blind spots”.
3) Use a Booking System
There’s nothing worse than travelling to a bar just to be refused entry at the door. Selling tickets in advance to watch a live sporting event can help to create buzz around the big day. It also secures some upfront capital to cover the requisite marketing costs for the event.
4) Optimise Table Service
Catering to football fans means one thing: Crowds. Make sure you have enough staff on hand to quickly take orders and encourage people to spend more. Streamline your ordering process as the quicker customers can order, the quicker they can re-order and spend more money.
5) A High-quality Sound System
Part of the atmosphere around football matches is the sound of the fans when their team scores a goal or the commentators bickering about a red card. Keep your customers engaged and satisfied by checking the viewing and sound quality before each match.
6) Implement Effective Zoning
Chances are some general customers will find their way into your establishment during the Euros. It’s wise to split the dining/drinking area so fans can enjoy the atmosphere with fellow supporters, and those in for a quiet bit of lunch can hear each other over the football excitement.
(Sports consumers, in general, are also willing to spend 7% more per pint or bottle of lager than the average consumer.)
Other Live Sporting Events
Although the Euros are a huge sporting occasion, don’t forget that the summer's jam-packed with rugby games, tennis tournaments, and even the Olympics. It’s critical that UK SMEs look beyond football to make the most of other popular live events and attract all kinds of sports fans.
The Wimbledon Championships is the biggest and oldest tennis tournament in the world. This summer, it will take place from 28 June 2021 to 11 July. It’s not only a great opportunity for the area around Wimbledon itself; televising it could be the perfect opportunity to boost sales since, in 2018, approximately 26 million people across the UK tuned into the matches.
A clever way to make your establishment stand out from the crowd is to add some Wimbledon summer delights to the menus, like Pimms and strawberries and cream.
In 2016, 45 million tuned into the Rio Olympics on the BBC. Why not have it streaming in your establishment? Having been starved of the incredible atmosphere last year, people may be more keen than ever to join friends and watch the Olympics together in pubs.
If you’re planning on broadcasting the Olympics (which will be available on the BBC), you could also decorate with flags or serve cocktails from around the world as a special deal. Remember to advertise this on social media to build up more interest.
The Lions Tour
Rugby fans won’t want to miss out on the Lions Tour action this summer. Running from June to August with most matches taking place in South Africa, bars and pubs can stream the coverage from Sky Sports. Make sure to advertise this appropriately, with signs outside your establishment and at the point of sale to garner the attention of these fans.
Miscellaneous Sporting Events
Here are some other summer sports events to add to your calendar:
- 26 June to 18 July: Tour de France
- 29 June, 1 & 4 July: England vs Sri Lanka ODIs
- 8, 10 & 13 July: England vs Pakistan ODIs
- 15 to 18 July: The Open at Royal St George’s
- 16, 18, & 20 July: England vs Pakistan T20s
- 17 July: Rugby League Challenge Cup final at Wembley
- 18 July: British Grand Prix at Silverstone
- 24, 31 July and 7 August: Rugby Union South Africa vs British and Irish Lions Test series
- 4 August to 14 September: England vs India five Test series
- 19 to 22 August: Women’s British Open at Carnoustie
- 24 August to 5 September: Paralympic Games in Tokyo
- 30 August to 12 September: US Open in New York
Televising large sporting events can give your business the competitive edge it needs to thrive in this harsh economy. However, for live events to make any impact on your bottom line, you need to effectively market these games to gain traction.
(If you’re planning on broadcasting the Olympics (which will be available on the BBC), you could also decorate with flags or serve cocktails from around the world as a special deal.)
Make the Most of Local Sporting Events
While pubs and restaurants will see massive turnouts during the Euros and other summer sports events, shops and other businesses in the area should prepare for increased foot traffic. This is especially the case if they’re located near to where the games are being played.
Despite operating at reduced capacity, tens of thousands of fans will descend upon Wembley Stadium for the Euro finals. The Wimbledon men’s and women’s finals will attract 15,000 spectators. Regardless of the event, businesses in the area must plan ahead and schedule these games and matches into their calendars.
By being proactive, you can add extra staff to the rota during these events to help manage peaks in consumer traffic and invest in your marketing to reel in these fans. For example, you can promote sports-related deals on social media and in-store or expand your stock to include themed items.
Summer Festivals 2021: What They Mean for Your Business
The UK is internationally known for its love of music and festivals. In fact, Mintel estimated the value of the UK music festivals and concerts market to be worth just over £2.6 billion in 2019.
Summer 2021’s festival season will look slightly different from other years. Sunscreen will go hand-in-hand with hand sanitiser and masks, and there’s still a lot of uncertainty as to whether they’ll go ahead.
However, businesses need to be prepared for whatever comes their way this summer, as it’s a crucial time to make up for lost seasons. Whether you own a clothing store or work in hospitality, festival season brings a great deal of opportunity to the places they’re located.
Government-tested Events: Negative Tests Show a Positive Sign
The government’s Events Research Programme is aiming to get large audiences back to live events this summer in a safe, practical way.
In early May, Festival Republic hosted an outdoor gig at Sefton Park in Liverpool as part of the Events Research Programme. It was hailed by culture minister Caroline Dinenage as a milestone on the path to the return of full-capacity live events.
In order to attend the event, fans had to take a lateral flow test at a community testing site 24 hours before the gig and produce a negative test to gain entry. Those attending were also encouraged to take an at-home test on the day of the event and another one five days afterwards. Scientists then used this data to track transmission and advise the government on the safest way to hold outdoor events.
Other events were also held in Liverpool around this time, with more than 13,000 people attending four live events in total (a music festival, a business conference and two nightclub events).
The result? No detectable spread of the virus.
Overall, five people were unable to attend the event after testing positive, four were identified as potentially having the virus at an event and seven had the virus four to seven days after they attended.
This series of events was a promising glimmer of hope for businesses up and down the country. However, with the postponement of England’s so-called “Freedom Day” on 21 June to 19 July, businesses have once again been thrown into uncharted territory without a compass.
Despite this, the best thing that SMEs can do is be prepared. But how?
(While many festivals have postponed until August and September, it is still best to plan for every situation so your business doesn't miss the summer hype train.)
The Show Must Go On… But Will the Festivals?
The best way to overcome these uncertain times is to plan for every situation so you don’t miss the summer hype train. Festival giant Glastonbury, scheduled to take place in early summer, cancelled its show-stopping event; however, many others have rescheduled theirs to safer bets like August and September.
Keep on top of festival cancellations here and make sure you’re ready for whatever summer 2021 throws your way.
Keep on top of festival cancellations here and make sure you’re ready for whatever summer 2021 throws your way.
The UK’s biggest dance festival Creamfields is going ahead this year over the August bank holiday in Cheshire. With organisers promising the “party of the summer”, it’s no surprise that tickets sold out in record time. Creamfields welcomes 70,000 people per day over its four-day event.
Reading and Leeds
Fortunately, Reading and Leeds also takes place in late August. By this time, most adults in the UK will have been vaccinated. If all goes to plan, 105,000 people will descend upon Reading and Leeds, bringing a much-needed respite to the economic drought caused by COVID-19.
Isle of Wight Festival
With Isle of Wight festivals and live events generating over £45 million for the island’s economy each year, it’s no wonder that organisers have agreed to postpone the event to September instead of cancelling the festival originally scheduled for June.
The Fringe Festival in Edinburgh is the largest arts festival in the world. As the event was cancelled last year, organisers are keen to get the festival back on track in August this year. Depending on the restrictions in place at the time, they may adopt a hybrid approach to the festival, with a mix of socially distanced live events and other virtual events.
In 2019, over 3 million people flocked to Scotland’s capital for The Fringe. It’s estimated that the festival is worth £1 billion to Scotland’s economy — a pivotal event for businesses all over the capital city.
With festival organisers up and down the country committed to delivering safe, fun and profitable events, small businesses need to be prepared for festival season — albeit a slightly delayed festival season.
Plan Ahead for a Successful Festival Season
If you live in an area where festivals and outdoor concerts are set to take place, it’s crucial that you plan ahead in terms of stock, marketing, and staff.
For retailers, consider selling festival-inspired items, for example, festival accessories like bucket hats and glitter, and more practical items like ponchos.
Ticket-holders will need to be prepared for their trip away (even if it doesn’t happen in the end), so take advantage of this and put yourself in festival-goers' shoes to stock up on the right items.
Hair and beauty salons
Festivals are about more than just the music and entertainment — festivals are about fashion. Hair and beauty salons located near festival sites are therefore in a great position to get clients tapping their debit cards.
By offering special deals on festival hair and make-up or creating online content for DIY looks, you can stand out and position your business as a “must-visit” for any festival-goer.
Pubs, bars and restaurants
Pubs and restaurants can also take advantage of virtual festivals — regardless of their location. Keep an eye on which festivals will be live-streamed and set up a viewing area in your establishment.
An outdoor area with a projector screen could be the perfect place for music lovers to spend their evenings. This is also a good solution to draw in more COVID-conscious customers who prefer to be out in the fresh air.
(Festivals are about more than just the music and entertainment — festivals are about fashion. As such, beauty salons and retailers should plan ahead in terms of stock, marketing, and staff.)
Get Summer-Ready with a Merchant Cash Advance from 365 Business Finance
After months of lockdown and a drought of live events, consumers up and down the UK are ready for summer 2021, so you need to make sure your business is too.
365 Business Finance is a direct financial provider offering a merchant cash advance product to small and medium-sized businesses across the United Kingdom. Our cash advances offer fast, flexible funding through one all-inclusive cost without admin fees, APRs or extras, fixed terms or repayment plans.
We approve 90% of businesses that apply, and funds are usually with you within 48 hours, making a merchant cash advance an ideal option for any business that accepts credit and/or debit cards to raise capital. We are the flexible alternative to a bank loan. The repayments will mirror your cash flow, so you only pay us when customers pay you.
At 365 Business Finance, we understand how difficult it is — especially these days — to make predictions about where your business will be in the near future, which is why we won’t ask you for security or business plans.
365 Business Finance can offer £5,000 to £200,000 to support your business so that you’re in the best position to boost sales and make the most out of summer 2021.