Last weekend I had the pleasure of spending 3 days and nights with the great and good of the industry at the Drinks Trade Regatta. Now, yacht racing wasn’t exactly something I was taught growing up in Caterham (pres de Croydon, as we learnt un-ironically to say in our French lessons), and it’s fair to say I’m not a natural, but a great time was had by all. After I’d stopped crying my way through my fear of sea/boats/the expectation of certain death.

The Isle of Wight itself was a revelation to me; having not visited since the standard school trip apart from a couple of weekends at the world-famous IOW Festival, I was pleasantly surprised at the variety of pubs, bars and restaurants- of which we visited many.

A highlight for me was “That 60’s Place“, a themed bar that promises to bring its customers the best of the era through music, memorabilia and attitude. Focussing on the days when the Beatles dominated the charts, when Doctor Who was the most watched television show and Bond was cock-of-the-walk, That 60’s Place is a great example of ‘themed’ executed well; highlights included tonnes of signed photos (see below), newspaper articles, a full sized Tardis, and even some hidden away 60’s “men’s magazines” discussing the most embarrassing time people… oh, let’s leave that there.

I also liked the inventive use of the prettier of available gin-bottles on tables throughout to display flowers and foliage in (apologies for the terrible picture, but I did also get a little glimpse of our team uniform included!)

On the right below you will see a picture which, for me, is what hospitality is all about- a request for customers to let the bar staff know if their favourite drink isn’t available- our latest research report, Ontrade Outlook tells us that 51% of customers would like bar staff to know their name and be able to make their favourite drink. Personalisation and great service are a cracking team.

The team also spent more time than was necessary in The Anchor, a great community local which also catered perfectly for nautically-focussed visitors, great beer, great service and live music (I have team dancing footage and am open to bribes) and a real focus on “local”. I loved the pint by pint countdown for Fuggle Dee Dum, possibly the best ever named beer, seen below- a great way to encourage customers to ‘buy local’ without cable-tying them to the local beer pump.

goddards brewery the anchorOur crew finished in a respectable 7th place (out of 19), and the only thing I should have done was send a postcard home telling them of our fabulous trip and unlikely achievement, but I forgot. Maybe I wouldn’t have if there had been a postbox, free postcards and stamps available at the bar- as in the below picture in The Barley Mow in London, spotted on my return. A great way to encourage extra customer dwell time and spend!

The Barley Mow pub Post BoxAfter spending the whole of last weekend trying to work out if I had sea-legs and avoid being hit by the boom (a challenge that not all of us managed) each day on just a few hours sleep and a lot of Jagerbombs, this weekend will be tame in comparison. The (majestic) Manic Street Preachers in London tonight, then down to take my Grandma to lunch tomorrow (“do you like your hair like that/you do like dressing casually don’t you/when are you having a baby, you’re not getting any younger”). And finally, lunch with my Glastonbury buddies on Sunday to get planning for the weekend of the year!