A New Lease of Life


We take a look at the role of design within wet-led venues, sharing how subtly refreshing your interiors can offer a plethora of benefits to your business.

Interiors play a huge role in the guest experience, and can be the deciding factor in whether or not customers choose to return for another drink and share your venue as a recommendation to friends; the drinks and service could be amazing, but, if the interiors are uncomfortable, or the ambience dull, guests will always be left disappointed.

To stand out from competitors, and stay ahead of the curve, it is important for venues to consider how they can refresh and renew their interiors to guarantee an exceptional guest experience, and bring a plethora of benefits to their business. 

Speaking on the importance of design within hospitality venues, Leanne Armstrong, Creative Director at Black Ivy, explains, “It is crucial for operators to refresh their interiors to stay ahead of the game in today’s market. In a world of instant gratification and access to new trends at the touch of a button, bars need to stay ahead of the curve by capturing the attention of customers who are seeking new and bolder experiences.”

Nicky Bagga, Director of BOXX Design Studio, agrees, sharing the benefits of refreshing design aspects to venues, explaining, “Staying current and updating interiors helps a bar stand out among the competition, maintain relevance, and ensures long-term success.”

Providing valuable insight, Nicky also reveals how interiors can be a powerful tool in communicating a brand’s identity, reaching desired demographics, and more. She says, “A bar’s interior is a huge part of its brand image and reputation. Refurbishment can provide an opportunity for generating buzz; customers love sharing their experiences, leading to increased online visibility.

“Outside of the aesthetic benefits, refurbishment also provides an opportunity for adapting to a change in demographics, ensuring compliance and safety, as well as redefining the standard/quality within a venue,” she adds. 

To effectively breathe new life into your venue with subtle design changes, identifying the ambience you want to create, your brand’s identity and your desired demographic, is crucial.

Doug Barr, Business Development Manager at Woodberry, urges venues to keep in mind the function of their establishment when considering design changes, and states, “You know your customers and venue best. What is the most important factor that will keep attracting guests into your venue and spending more of their money with you? 

“If you’re a sports bar, the function and comfort of your furnishings might be more important than the look – can they see the screen? If you’re a higher-end cocktail bar, then your furnishings and interior design are so important to differentiate your venue and attract new customers in,” he adds.

But where do you start in breathing a new lease of life into your bar? Leanne from Black Ivy explains that, “Subtle changes can be made without breaking the bank or altering the brand identity, and they can be as simple as changing the paint colour, updating the artwork, rearranging the layout to enhance the customer experience or adding more covers. 

“These simple things can be done to breathe new life into a venue without altering the original character or charm.”

Tequila Wilson, Senior Account Manager at Cult Furniture, agrees, stating that subtle interior changes are the way to go. “It’s all about the understated design changes. Whether it’s updating your lighting, adding some new artwork, or rearranging the layout; these small tweaks can breathe new life into your space while still staying true to your brand,” she comments.

Lighting plays a crucial role in setting the mood in bars and, with an endless possibility of different styles and colours, updating your lighting system is an effective way of breathing new life into your venue.

Director and Designer at Fritz Fryer Lighting, Simon Wallis-Smith, shares the importance of appropriate, yet effective, lighting within wet-led venues, and says, “A well-conceived light scheme is essential in this super competitive industry. The lighting scheme sets the tone and mood of any venue. Get it wrong, and it will kill the atmosphere. 

“You want your clients to feel relaxed and comfortable and, along with other interior elements, the lighting is a key factor. Sometimes, simple additions and changes can make all the difference,” he adds.

When it comes to lighting, it is not necessary to change the whole light fitting to achieve a brand-new look; simply swapping out the bulb with an alternative wattage, filament style or colour can completely transform venues.   

Simon reveals, “It is possible to refresh a scheme by simply changing lamps to create the right mood, for example 2200k-2700k.”

Looking further into simple, but effective, lighting swaps, Simon advises venues to introduce different lighting styles to create a layered-effect that can add to the overall ambience, and further ‘illuminate’ your brand’s identity.

“If the vibe is industrial, and there are exposed cable trays and conduit, pendants and wall lights can be introduced fairly easily to create the all-important multiple layers of illumination. If suitable, the introduction of free-standing lamps with soft fabric shades will help to create that club/lounge feeling for your guests. None of these additions need to be complicated or expensive,” he explains. 

While visually-striking design features are effective in creating exceptional guest experiences, what about the other senses – how can these be targeted to offer guests something exceptional?

EcoScent specialises in elevating wet-led venues’ guest experience, driving foot traffic, and increasing revenue streams through the strategic integration of fragrance and scent delivery systems. 

Targeting guests’ olfactory sense, EcoScent products offer a plethora of benefits to wet-led venues, creating a lasting memory in guests’ minds, enticing new customers and ensuring repeat visits.

John Mendes, Marketing Manager at EcoScent, explains, “EcoScent’s cutting-edge scent systems can be wireless, wall-mounted, battery or mains-powered and Bluetooth-enabled, offering a hassle-free solution to enhance bar ambience and guest experiences. With customisable fragrances, advanced controls and efficient distribution, our scent machines craft a memorable environment that keeps customers returning, whilst also offering a solution to common odours at bars.”

Adding a layer of fragrance to your venue can offer a new dimension to the overall drinking experience for guests, and fully customisable EcoScent products are the perfect subtle design change to stand out from competitors. 

John continues, “Our successful collaborations with bars include: infusing Lucia Wine Bar & Grill with Jasmine, Sandalwood and Citrus; instilling an Oudh & Sandalwood luxury fragrance at Inca London; fresh Bamboo at KU Bar Soho and infusing Zocalo Soho with Lemongrass. Scent marketing can influence customer behaviour, stimulating appetites with food-associated scents and fostering relaxation with calming aromas, thereby enhancing overall guest satisfaction and engagement.”

Looking to where all the magic happens, the main bar and backbar – this is a crucial area to consider when looking to revamp your venue for the better.

Matt Summers, Head of Design Sales at Shine Catering Systems, advises venues to consider swapping out bar systems with more functional and efficient options, by saying “Give yourself the option to make changes for a new lease of life in your bar by choosing modular configuration for the bar system, which means you can easily swap out ice trays, drip wells, sinks, basket holders and storage as required.  

“Investing in a new bar system is a big decision but, with modular configuration, you can change to suit new menus, or based on feedback from staff members; if you feel you need fewer ice trays and more storage, for example,” he adds.

As we enter the new season, it is also important to allocate some thought to your venue’s outdoor space – just in time for the increased footfall that the warmer months bring.  

Doug at Woodberry reveals the importance of outdoor terraces and rooftops to venues and, subsequently, why these should be areas to consider when revamping. He states, “Outdoor spaces maximise your hospitality capacity, and can give you competitive advantage when customers seek alfresco venues. 

“Create an easy flow between indoors and outdoors, use indoor/outdoor furniture that can be easily moved where needed, being conscious not to block exits or cause bottlenecks to get outside. Provide shelter over your space and it can be enjoyed no matter the British weather!”

How often should you be making these design changes? Well, this depends on the venue! Tequila at Cult Furniture explains, “When it comes to how often you should update your interiors, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. But, staying on top of trends and making periodic updates can keep your bar feeling fresh and exciting. As for furniture replacements, it’s all about maintaining comfort and aesthetics, so don’t wait until things start to look tired before making a change.”

Leanne advises venues to keep a close eye on interiors, and make changes when they see fit. She also believes that monitoring revenue, and adopting new interiors when there are dips, is an effective way to attract new custom. She states, “Major refurbishments should be every 10 years, but refreshes need to be done when certain areas are looking tired and revenue is dipping – which may seem counterproductive, but a refresh can draw in new customers!”

Ultimately, when it comes to revamping your bar, subtle design changes are key. From lighting to fragrance, these additions, though small, can have a huge impact on your venue’s ambience, and are crucial in providing guests an unparalleled experience. 

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