Pom Bear May 19

What the Dickens!

Book clubs are a novel way to draw in trade. Use our national love of literature to get thirsty bookworms into your establishment.

Individual Inns has done this through its five pubs and the result is long standing, popular book clubs that create additional revenue and PR for the group. The popular reading groups started in 2009 at one pub and have now spread to all five of the group’s pubs, which are based in Cumbria, Lancashire, North and West Yorkshire.

They also run a creative writing group at their pub, The Wheatley Arms, Ilkley. Says Group host, Brenda McLoughlin, “our local library lends us the books and members choose titles in advance. They soon become friends and enjoy reading together, while their loyalty boosts our reputation and footfall.” The groups have become so successful due to word of mouth, but initial interest was drummed up via quirky promotional material on tables and in the entrances of the pubs. Staff also told customers about the book clubs. Brenda believes the concept has been so popular, due to the added value attendees get. Each reading group has 12-16 members and a waiting list, giving a combined membership of 60. In addition to the reading groups, members get priority booking and VIP seating at in-house lunches or suppers and are offered outings to the theatre and festivals. For Individual Inns, this means increased bookings at other times and increased custom at their other pubs, as they often visit other Individual Inn’s to eat on their day trips to festivals.

To make the book clubs even more special, Brenda often invites guest authors to attend. Recent visitors include Neil and Christine Hamilton. Ask what the key to the success of this format is and Brenda is quite clear, “work at giving the group extra value and members will reward you by staying for lunch after meetings, as they feel a strong connection. The idea behind the groups is making pubs the hub of the community and building a sense of inclusion.”

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