Cost-effective ways to improve your pub’s appeal

Without doubt, one of the UK’s USPs are its pubs and their vast range of beers. With tourism growing significantly outside of London, pubs nationwide ought to maximise the appeal of their venues with enticing interiors, alfresco dining and great value-for-money menus.

As casual dining hasn’t quite hit the heights many thought it would, pubs should seize the opportunity and convince visitors that the pub is now the place to be, but they need to look worth stepping over the threshold for.

Limited on budget but want to increase your pub’s appeal? We’ve worked in the pub industry for over 10 years so know the challenges you face day-to-day. For pub owners looking to increase their venue’s footfall and profitability, we’d recommend these tips for competing in today’s competitive hospitality market.

Entrance and lobby areas invite customers to explore the venue

Your entrance needs to be inviting and guests should be able to see into the venue immediately so remove any partitions that obscure the view.

Window tables are always in demand because they offer a view and natural light so why not arrange your furniture, so people can sit in window spaces.  It might also tempt kerbside passers-by to come in.

Some of the pub’s lighting will be visible from the road so that might be part of any ‘shall we or shan’t we go in’ decision-making process. Atmospheric lighting is important for a pub but that’s different to gloomy lighting.  Lighting can also highlight your venue’s best features and so add a talking point.

Walls and ceilings

Decoration is essential as it creates the right atmosphere for your pub. Colours help determine an overall feel; light colours > light & airy especially helped by natural light; statement walls can look stunning and help differentiate areas in the pub. Whatever the colour scheme, it needs to be well maintained – no flaky paint or peeling wallpaper.

Flooring – does it look dated? Explore what you can do with these simple renovation tips:


Fixed furniture – seat backs don’t generally need recovering as often. So just recover the seats – they don’t need to match…

Tables – Table tops need to be in good condition. Ring marks and stains only work in a shabby chic type of venue.  Refinishing need not be expensive and can be done on-site, so tables can be used again after a couple of hours.

Make your bar work for you

  • Bar counters should always be uncluttered, dry, attractive and well-lit.
  • Interesting back bar designs and lighting make your products look more appealing. 

The pub garden

  • Your outside area has probably been one of the most sought after parts of the pub this summer. Does it do the pub justice? If it’s visible from the road, it is particularly important as first impressions do count.
  • Sweep hard surfaces & ensure no trip hazards. Keep any grass cut, the garden well-tended, the tables cleared. If the outside looks good, it gives the impression that the inside is the same.
  • Furniture must be attractive, in good repair and probably more exciting that just picnic tables.

Customer service, however, is one of the most important aspects of running any hospitality venue. Motivated staff will move easily from serving customers to cleaning/clearing tables, picking up rubbish & checking toilets (someone has to)! Motivated staff may also have brilliant ideas of cost-effective improvements and their involvement makes them feel valued, especially if there’s an incentive.

All the above implies some effort and the right attitude. It really boils down to what results you are looking to achieve. Would viewing it through the eyes of a ‘mystery shopper’ offer any big surprises?

This blog was co-written by Keith and Annika Hobbs, directors at Fresssh Image.

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