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Will bars use digital spaces after the pandemic?

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In the Pub of the futureIn a report released in May, Heineken predicted that ads would increase in terms of the use of digital spaces, especially with a focus on games over the next decade.

The Japanese have already coined a term, on-nomi,to describe “drinking alone” on video calls while isolating themselves, and with 40% of consumers interested in make-at-home cocktail kits according to Nielsen CGA data, it looks like more will follow.

Evidenced by Zest Mixology, which began hosting digital cocktail classes for businesses during the lockdown: staff were given boxes of cocktail ingredients individually before joining a zoom call where mixologists would learn how to put the drinks together.

The company has five recording booths, each with a green screen and HD cameras to look like other parts of the world. By circling around the stands in different sub-committee rooms, participants learn how to prepare different cocktails.

the spirit of christmas

Managing Director Murdo Macleod said: “As Christmas approaches, a lot of organizations are deciding, ‘you know what, we’re just going to use the virtual’.

“It’s safer in terms of a pandemic, and it’s actually more effective in terms of reducing the carbon footprint and bringing people together efficiently and quickly. “

Despite declining sales in spring and summer, Zest Mixology has seen an increase in Christmas party bookings: the company plans to ship 15-20,000 boxes of cocktails in November and December compared to 10,000 last year.

To combat “zoom fatigue”, the company uses green screens to transport attendees to the top of The Shard or Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands hotel, creating experiences that contrast with the “drab” monochrome of standard Zoom meetings. .

“We are all focused on engagement, dynamism and interactivity. There is a lot of interactivity in the chat or in the polls; there are people who make cocktails in different countries. This is how we keep it alive, ”Macleod said.

This reflects Bacardi’s 2021 Cocktail Trends Reportwhich predicted that consumers would seek pleasure, nostalgia and escape from drinking when Covid-19 restrictions were relaxed.

Macleod added that unifying the global teams was an important part of the business, with staff always choosing to meet virtually rather than fly to be together.

He said: “This is something that has never slowed down since the lockdown and is part of the business that is growing.”

High cost

Soho-based Phoenix Arts Club co-owner Kenneth Wright said digital spaces are key to funding artists and engaging a global audience.

During Covid, the club maintained a strong online presence, keeping more than 300 performers and performers in paid employment through live broadcasts.

The club now continues a free weekly live broadcast on Thursday evenings that draws around 100-400 viewers from as far away as Australia, and also broadcasts monthly live broadcasts where 800-1002 viewers pay to watch an artist showcase their talent. .

Wright said, “We’re two-thirds full at the moment, but a number of our traditional audiences are still missing and we need to stay in touch with them.

“There are very few tourists in London, and we still have a considerable number of people there who are isolating themselves.

“It’s important that they have the opportunity to participate and watch live performances from the comfort of their own homes. “

However, Swan volunteer in Windsor, Berkshire Ken Sutherland pointed out that maintaining digital spaces costs money.

As a community-funded pub, all money raised goes towards maintaining the pub and paying rent, with few resources for technology; even Zoom costs more than half an hour.

Unless the rules of Covid change, there would be no return of virtual bingo nights, music events, or coffee mornings at the Swan. Sutherland said: “We don’t have the money for this.”