In an era of Instagram and high-flying social media posts, cocktail bars have pushed their way to the forefront of the hospitality scene, offering consumers sparkling decadence, unrivalled sophistication and quirky experiences. They can distinguish the best hotels and restaurants from the downright ordinary and offer a luxurious outing that captures the senses. With cocktails considered as the pinnacle of modern finesse, those who can establish a unique customer offering will be sure to see their business thrive. The bar experience therefore should not be underestimated and the design and ambience plays a key role in enhancing customer satisfaction. These are some key ways in which you can truly capture a great customer experience in your cocktail bar.
Strike the balance between comfort and elegance
The look of a cocktail bar is extremely important and will initially wow customers when they walk in. However, the experience that follows is equally as important and the design of the bar must be fit for purpose whilst fulfilling the customer offering. Seating will be crucial to obtaining repeat business and must offer comfort whilst complementing the food and drink services. For example, if the bar is intended to be merely a stop off point to get drinks, perhaps consider utilising tall bar stools without arm of back rests, this will encourage a flow of customers throughout the establishment as they move to more permanent seating. Additionally, if the aim is to encourage customers to stay for a long-term visit, offer comfortable seating – perhaps with cushioned upholstery – to make their stay enjoyable. If customers feel comfortable in their surroundings, they are more likely to return.
Capture the senses
In a saturated marketplace, customers are presented with a plethora of social settings, sometimes making it difficult to distinguish between bars. Cocktail bars must therefore go beyond standard offerings and utilise multiple sensory factors to entice customers and turn the bar into a popular drinking spot. This can be achieved through design when considering the fabrics, textures and patterns used in the space. Bars can ignite the senses through using contrasting upholstered seating, from velvet to leather. Moreover, recent trends have seen these textures move away from the furniture with flower walls, raw brick walls and inside water features bracing the scene. Further accompanying this with aromatic and uniquely flavoured drinks will be sure to differentiate the bar from competitors.
Opt for a theme
If you are not sure how to make your cocktail bar truly stand out, perhaps consider creating a themed offering to spark interest. Some of the world’s most successful bars have incorporated themes such as 1920s, underwater and Brazilian and reap the benefits of tailoring the bar design to fit the theme. This offers an opportunity to capture the authenticity of a 1920s bar with delicate golds and old fashioned spotlighting or perhaps a beach theme with indoor plants and raw wooden materials. This can offer customers something a little different which can intrigue visitors and even lead to enhanced marketing opportunities.
Use outdoor space
Cocktail gardens and rooftops are a guaranteed opportunity to bring in business during the warmer months and will really enhance the cocktail drinking experience, allowing customers to feel closer to the outdoors and whilst taking in breathtaking city views. If opting for an outside experience, consider using durable furniture that is weather resistant and stands the test of time – this will reduce the need for refurbishments later down the line and keep furniture looking appealing for guests. Additionally, opting for outdoor heaters can make guest feels more comfortable outdoors – particularly with the unpredictable UK weather. Additionally, bars must make sure service extends to the outdoor area, with guests sitting outdoors receiving the same staff attentiveness as indoor customers. This presents customers with multiple seating options whilst adding more unusual and interesting elements to the market offering.
Complement design with drinks
Although design can enhance the customer experience and generate repeat business, the cocktails on offer must compliment the interiors, generating a comprehensive synergy throughout the entire hospitality establishment. This can be achieved through getting experienced mixologists on board to complete this vision. For example, if you are opting for a themed cocktail bar, offer a drinks menu that embodies this theme as it will demonstrate the authenticity of the setting.
So, don’t hold back when it comes to the cocktail bar and incorporate a unique range of design features to achieve a beautifully balanced, fit for purpose space that has customers returning again and again.
by Liam O’Donnell, the director of Valdivian Furniture, a British furniture manufacturer that specialises in bespoke, hand crafted contract furniture