Redefining the future of the pub experience: Convenience is king as punters keen to stay digital beyond the pandemic


After a year of lockdowns and ever-changing restrictions for the hospitality industry, new research commissioned by Flipdish reveals how the pandemic may have changed our pub experiences forever, with only 27% of Brits wanting to avoid crowded bars exclusively due to health concerns. Signalling a change in attitude towards getting a round in, splitting bills on dates, popping for a swift after-work pint and maximising time with loved ones instead of queuing at the bar, the study indicates that digital ordering is set to shape the future of British boozers permanently. With 80% of Brits keen for digitalisation to stay not only because it keeps them safe, but because it enhances their experience, it’s clear that convenience is a by-product that we don’t want to lose.

According to the study commissioned by Flipdish almost half of singletons (49%) are keen to keep payments via smartphones, indicating that when it comes to dating they want to avoid the awkward bill moment at the end of the meal. Additionally, 1 in 4 (26%) 18-24 year olds are keeping an eye on their bank balance, preferring digital ordering and payment options so they can consume at their own pace or avoid getting tied into rounds, highlighting how especially badly this age group has been financially hit by the pandemic.

In a nod to the inevitable onslaught of packed-out bars and pubs, 55% of Brits want to keep menus digital and ordering online a permanent change to avoid lengthy waits at busy venues, and 50% of forward-planning women feel that easy online booking of pub tables has made their social lives easier, and helps avoid wasting valuable time trying to find a venue with space to accommodate catch ups, after work drinks and pub lunches.

Other key stats of interest include:

– Despite being most likely to have had the vaccine, 43% of over 55s are nervous about being in crowded bar areas, compared to only 14% of 18-24 year olds

– One in four (26%) think viewing menus digitally should be here to stay in a bid to be more hygienic and cut down waiting times after they’ve been seated

– 26% of people in Wales are most excited about eating pub food indoors from 17th May

– Catch ups with loved ones is the most exciting thing about restrictions lifting for 62% of people in Northern Ireland

Fionn Hart, UK Country Manager of Flipdish said: “Whilst digital ordering was originally implemented to keep customers and staff safe after the first lockdown lifted, it’s become evident that it has a whole host of additional benefits. Pubs are such a vital part of UK culture, and helping Brits maximise the enjoyment of the time they spend in them is important for the future of the hospitality industry.

We’ve witnessed the resilience of pubs and bars around the UK during the pandemic as they launch delivery boxes and transform car parks to dining areas, and this innovation has been key to the survival of the industry. With punters declaring that they want ordering online to stay to feel safer, avoid long queues and get manage their spending better, it looks like Covid-19 may have reshaped the future of the industry.”

Steve Wynne, Licensee of The Hand Inn in North Wales said: “Digital ordering has made a huge difference to our business and enabled us to quickly get back on our feet when reopening after a year of lockdowns, and our punters have easily got to grips with using their smartphones to view menus and order directly. Whilst customer service remains at the heart of The Hand Inn and staff continue to interact with our customers, this digitalisation is great for those who prefer to stay seated and maximise the time they have with their loved ones.”

Interestingly, It is not just drinkers that are benefiting from digital ordering, with staff preferring it too, according to David Johnston, owner of The Paper Mill and The Craigie in Scotland, who said: “Digital ordering has helped our staff focus on providing an amazing customer experience and spend less time trying to work out who should be served next, how much change they should be giving and remembering difficult orders. We built our own-branded app that removes those obstacles for us, and allows our team to focus on excellent service and building great relationships with punters who don’t want to lose that in-person experience.”

A British Beer & Pub Association spokesperson said:
“Supporting the reopening and recovery of pubs is our priority, and innovations and services that help elevate the customer experience and increase footfall for pubs are a welcome boost to our sector. For pubs looking to grow their customer base and appeal to a wider range of pub-goers, the digitalisation of ordering is well worth exploring.”